Life is found in the “and.”

“The best day of your life is the one on which you decide your life is your own. No apologies or excuses. No one to lean on, rely on, or blame. The gift is yours — it is an amazing journey — and you alone are responsible for the quality of it. This is the day your life really begins.”

Bob Moawad

Most people never arrive at the point where they can honestly view life through the lens of both “no apologies or excuses.” I have known people that were good at either, but rarely both.  

First, I think it is essential to ensure one doesn’t misinterpret the “no apologies” component to mean you are authorized to live in a manner where you can be numb to others’ feelings or perspectives.  

“No apologies” in this context means that you don’t have to ask for forgiveness for being the unique and special person God created you to be. You own your identity and appreciate the individual gifts you possess.  

Balancing this awareness with an attitude of extreme ownership and accountability is where the magic happens. Only then can you begin to live the authentic life God has prepared for you.  No apologies AND no excuses…. This is truly the “genius of the AND.”

Relentless growth…

“Goals live on the other side of obstacles and challenges. Be relentless in pursuit of those goals, especially in the face of obstacles. Along the way, make no excuses and place no blame.”

Ray Bourque

I see relentless growth as having to keys for success. First, if one can set the right goals, then those goals will inspire the effort required to bring them to fruition. Second, living life in an authentic manner without judgement, excuses or blame enables you to learn from failure and achieve those more difficult and inspiring goals. Becoming the person we were meant to be requires both.

A goal that is chosen because it is likely to be free of obstacles or challenges isn’t truly a goal. It is a choice for the easy path, to go along through life simply existing. Goals need to be hard enough, to be inspiring enough, to be powerful enough to stir your soul and make any obstacle or challenge that happens to come up worth the effort to persevere. If you have goals like that, then being relentless is simply a result of the power of a well-crafted goal.

And when you fail, and we all will inevitably fail, be candid and honest with yourself about that failure. Don’t condemn yourself, or others, and don’t justify the failure. Simply look at it through the lens of learning and growth so that the next goal has an even higher likelihood of success.

Success over the long-term requires both of these traits, and they are synergistic. Do your goals measure up? Are you learning from failure? If not, dig deeper…

Hard work is a form of thanks…

“There may be people that have more talent than you, but there’s no excuse for anyone to work harder than you do.”

Derek Jeter

Who works harder than you? Do you know anyone whom you respect that constantly and consistently puts in a degree of effort and brings an intensity to their work that you admire? What is their secret? Have you ever asked them? We all have the same 24 hour days, what causes some people to push harder and get more out of those same hours than you do? What prevents you from asking them, and finding your own way to do more and maximize your talents?

I believe that talent is a gift from God. We don’t control how much of it we receive but we can control how much of it we put to use. I view hard work as a form of showing my thankfulness and appreciation to God for the gifts He has given me. If He gave me a talent to use and I am lazy and don’t put for the effort to maximize it then I am dishonoring Him. I am reminded of this verse:

‘Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.’ Colossians 3:23-24

In some ways I guess that the ability to do the hard work, no matter what, is a form of talent in itself. Another verse that reinforces this principle is:

‘Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.’ Ecclesiastes 9:10

Doing the hard work isn’t about getting the reward, it is about honoring our gifts. Find someone whom you respect for their hard work and ask them why and how they do it. Then find a way to do your hard work yourself.

Get up and go…

“The only person holding you back is you.  No more excuses.  It’s time to change.”

Tony Robbins

What do you want to accomplish? Who do you want to become? Where do you want to go? How do you want to live? Who do you want to serve?

Answer these questions, plan your work and then work your plan. We can always come up with a long list of reasons “why this or that won’t work” or “why this happened to me.” I am a firm believer that the only difference between ‘reasons’ and an ‘excuse’ is an action plan and the will to do something about it. Otherwise we will just wallow in our own self pity and our dreams will turn to dust. Get up and go. If you don’t you have no one to blame but yourself so make it happen.

You don’t win on emotion…

“No excuses. No explanation. You don’t win on emotion. You win on execution.” 

Tony Dungy

Execution is everything. Without great execution nothing else really matters. The greatest idea or plan in the world is worthless without relentless execution and a focus on getting the work done.

One thing that stands out for me on this quote is the “you don’t win on emotion” sentence. Emotion can be great fuel for winning and can be a tremendous catalyst for action but it won’t be the reason you win. Without intense focus and direction all the emotion in the world won’t create great execution.

Too often, myself most certainly included, emotion has been an excuse or a “reason” for poor performance. Things like “I am just not passionate about this,” or “my emotions got the best of me” are just excuses for not executing the game play properly.

Look in the mirror. The only person that prevents you from getting the work done is yourself. “No excuses. No explanation. You don’t win on emotion. You win on execution…”

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