• Acknowledging my shortcomings and taking ownership in results, not blaming others
  • Accepting my responsibility to clients and colleagues and admitting my role in situation
  • Seeking accountability, focusing on self-improvement, and providing solutions


This week’s Funds For Learning® GuideMark is “Offer No Excuses.” That’s shorthand for “I will accept responsibility for my contributions to failures, shortcomings and less than perfect outcomes.” It means acknowledging the role I played in a situation, particularly with an eye towards resolving the situation and avoiding it again in the future.

“Offer No Excuses” is not easy work, in part because it involves self-discovery. Many of my excuses can be linked to blind spots: bad habits, tendencies and/or assumptions of which I am not aware. By definition, I am insensitive to my blind spots. I can’t see them. This means I am dependent on others to point them out to me, or I will need to wait for some consequence to play out in order to illuminate them. Either way, I am dependent on external sources to help me see my blind spots.

By contrast, it can be relatively easy to see other people’s blind spots. This is one of the reasons it is so easy to blame others. It is usually a lot easier to see their shortcomings than it is to see my own. (It doesn’t help that some people are so imperfect that it is almost impossible to isolate and identify the other factors that contributed to a failure.)

The bottom line is this: “Offer no excuses” is not for the faint of heart. It requires developing new-levels of self-awareness that are built on external feedback and support. If you want to be good at accepting responsibility for yourself, you have to really want it, and you have to be committed to doing it. It takes a tremendous amount of trust and commitment.

You have to trust that the people around you who provide you with feedback are doing so with your best interest in mind.

You have to trust that the feedback givers want the best for you and that they sincerely want to see you improve.

You also have to accept the reality that feedback givers are, themselves, imperfect with blind spots. The may not give you feedback in the best way and/or at the best time – and their feedback may be incorrect or off-the-mark somehow.

This is not easy stuff. But this is the stuff that is required if we truly desire to get better at fulfilling our responsibilities. And a lot of this starts when we stop making excuses or offering up reasons for our failures.


The next time you are tempted to say “yes, but…” Stop yourself at “yes”. Offer no excuses and then listen for the feedback. It will be there, and it will help you grow.


Key Words and Phrases

Take ownership in outcomes, Agree to responsibility, Accept accountability, Provide solutions, Recognize failures, Acknowledge shortcomings, Focus on results not excuses, Admit mistakes.

Opposite Terms

Rationalize inferior work, Deny or justify a fault, Offer a pretext for failure, Provide self-justification.


GuideMarks – Distinguishing Characteristics of FFL E-rate Guides

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