• 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

I think we all fall into a habit sometimes of making excuses. Here’s a few I’ve used in just the past couple of months:

“It was cold outside.”
[Why I didn’t take the trash to the curb and why there’s an enormous pile of trash next to the trash cans.]
“There’s always a line. He’s still alive, isn’t he?”
[Why I didn’t take the dog to the vet.]
“I didn’t want to measure all of the ingredients.”
[Why dinner is inedible.] 
“It was the first thing in the morning.”

Honestly, I use this one regularly – it could have been about anything.
Given that these are just the ones that come to mind, it’s obvious that I’m as guilty as anyone when it comes to making excuses – if not more so. (It’s also clear that, at least at times, I can be extraordinarily lazy.)
Part of the trouble with excuses is that they almost never make a situation better; in fact, the opposite is usually true. Take the above examples. Each of these situations might have gone differently had I just done what I was supposed to do. I wouldn’t have had to awkwardly apologize to the neighbors (who do meticulously maintain their home and yard and aren’t shy about asking me to do the same). The vet bill two weeks later would’ve been far less expensive. My girlfriend and I might have had a delicious – or at least edible – Valentine’s Day dinner. 
Relatively speaking, these excuses were pretty harmless, and the consequences in each case were insignificant (the dog only had some sort of rash). That’s not always the case, though. There are situations where not taking ownership in results, blaming others, and failing to provide solutions can be detrimental. And again, making excuses generally only perpetuates the problem. 
At FFL, there’s too much at stake to make excuses. 
Without a doubt, FFL employees make mistakes. I make many. But we work to avoid the tendency we all have to make excuses. It’s one of our GuideMarks. By “offering no excuses” we instead acknowledge shortcomings, accept responsibility, and focus on improvement. 
Avoiding excuses is particularly necessary to an organization like Funds For Learning, where we employ a team approach and the work of one employee is often interdependent on another’s. It is an important part in becoming a better organization. More importantly, eliminating excuses and instead focusing on solutions allows us to better serve our clients. 
I’ve seen this GuideMark on display at FFL regularly. Colleagues step up, accept responsibility, and work to improve. I’ve been reminded to do the same – to not worry about who did what or why something happened, but instead to work to be better or fix the situation. 
The above examples notwithstanding, the GuideMark has also helped on a personal level to limit my own excuses. I’m sure I’ll still try and get out household chores and things I generally don’t want to do. But I’m working on breaking the habit. 


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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