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The Socially Accepted Excuse

As the year progresses, we must make sure we do not allow for the same mistakes to overwhelm us. I would like to share with you something that had a profound impact on my life some 30 years ago.

In 1987, in my first management assignment, I read a book The Thirteen Fatal Errors Managers Make and How You Can Avoid Them by Steven Brown. In that book, he coined a phrase—The Failure Formula and it goes like this:

“People fail in direct proportion to their willingness to accept socially accepted excuses for failure.”

And that phrase has stuck with me ever since.

We have all heard a host of socially accepted excuses and unfortunately, some of us use them regularly. They sound like:

  • I would be successful if it weren’t for the economy

  • I would be successful if our prices were lower

  • I would be successful if someone would train me

  • I would be successful if I worked for a different manager

  • I would be successful if it weren’t for the tight talent market

Sound familiar? Unfortunately, these socially accepted excuses are the enemy of personal accountability and can drag down an office, a team or a company. If you take a step back, and break it down, what they are saying is this:

“Hey, don’t judge me by the same criteria you judge others, because if you do, I am going to fail. But as long as you go along with the idea that our prices are too high, the prices fail, and my hands are clean.”

The amazing thing about this excuse is that there are other people in the company selling with the same prices, making 100 Plus Club and President’s Club. Many people have started successful businesses in a down economy.

So, how do we ensure socially accepted excuses do not weave their way into the fabric of the company? By building a foundation we refer to in our training as The Four Cornerstones of Success®. The four cornerstones consist of Attitude, Personal Accountability, Perseverance and Habit.

Attitude: it is the start of everything. Think about it, everything we have accomplished in life or failed to accomplish started with our attitude. Attitude is the #1 predictor of success. Attitude is a better predictor of success than IQ. Attitude is a better predictor of success than education or family background. It is the gate to the mind and allows the other cornerstones to work.

Personal Accountability: this is perhaps one of the most difficult cornerstones to master. We are in an age where it is easier to play the victim than it is to hold one’s self accountable for their actions and inaction. As a sales leader, the only thing I would accept from my sales team when we lost a deal was “I was outsold…and these are the adjustments I am will make going forward.”

Perseverance: it is one part, “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” But it is also the idea of investing in your own personal development to get a little bit better every single day. The mantra for this cornerstone is, “progressive improvement is better than postponed perfection". If you can't invest in you, who can?

Habit: the difference between the successful person and the unsuccessful person is positive habits. Those habits include the having a positive attitude, holding yourself accountable for top-notch results and investing in your own personal development—every single day.

Every day, each of us makes choices:

  • To find the positives in work and life or to be beaten before we even start

  • To hold ourselves accountable for our actions and as well as our inaction

  • To invest in or not to invest in our own personal development

At Butler Street, we believe The Four Cornerstones of Success® are foundational to building a strong client development organization. Having a customer-facing organization that understands the importance of attitude, personal accountability, perseverance and habit is the first step to success. To learn more, please click on contact and let’s talk.

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