When I met Kyle Maynard, he changed my life for good. Kyle was born with arms that end at the elbows and legs near the knees. In spite of those limitations, Kyle played football in grammar school, wrestled for his high school team, wrote a best-selling book called, "No Excuses" and became the first man to crawl on his own to the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa.
Kyle was the keynote speaker at a convention I attended in California. I have heard some great speakers over the years, but no one has inspired me more than Kyle. His "No Excuses, Anything is Possible" talk was not unique. I've listened to those messages most of my adult life. I walked out of that convention center extremely impressed with Kyle; but more importantly, I felt better about myself. Given all his challenges, if Kyle could live with "no excuses," so could I.
Later that evening, I had the pleasure of having dinner with Kyle. The only thing more amazing than hearing him add to his story was watching him eat, drink and autograph his book with his elbows. I don't know how many hours Kyle spent learning to do things I take for granted every day. What I do know is that you and I can live happier, healthier, more meaningful lives by following his example. I'm not just talking about living with a "No Excuses" attitude. While that's important, it's not enough. What makes Kyle so amazing is that he has dedicated his life to maximizing his God-given talents and using those strengths to serve others in an extraordinary way. He has made a commitment to thrive...not merely survive...in spite of the obstacles in his life because he wants to inspire others, not with his words, but with his actions.
I encourage all of us to follow Kyle's lead and commit to helping others create a "No Excuses" life.
No one can live their best life if they allow excuses to be an option for explaining why they didn't do what they said they would do.
Leaders can unconsciously train others to come up with excuses by listening to "I couldn't do it because" stories as a way of determining if the excuse is valid. When this happens, their people learn to come up with more evidence to prove their failure was not their fault. The fact of the matter is something either got done or it didn't. The story is really irrelevant to the development of the person you're leading.
You don't want to be a pushover or a bulldozer when it comes to coaching someone to give up their excuses. Saying "Don't worry about it" or demanding action does little to change the excuse habit. Helping someone analyze what they can do differently next time is much more effective.
To create a "No Excuses" culture, it's also important to listen for where someone might be afraid. Behind most excuses is a fear of failure. When you find the fear, the excuses start to disappear.
Another way leaders and parents accidentally teach co-workers and children to make excuses is by being too good at solving their problems. When a team or family member makes an excuse, the leader smells smoke and they know a fire is starting to burn. Being a good fire chief, they take responsibility for putting the flames out. When the leader makes a bad situation better, the other person walks away from the opportunity weaker and more likely to pull the excuse fire alarm next time they don't do what they said they would do.
Who needs you to help them make a commitment to living a "No Excuses" life?
"Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favour all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way. I have learned a deep respect for one of Goethe's couplets:
Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it!"
~ William Hutchison Murray ~