Point Lookout: a free weekly publication of Chaco Canyon Consulting
Volume 7, Issue 1;   January 3, 2007:

Excuses, Excuses

by

When a goal remains unaccomplished, we sometimes tell ourselves that we understand why. And sometimes we do. But at other times, we're just fooling ourselves.
The U.S. Capitol at night

The U.S. Capitol at night. On December 10, 2006, the 109th U.S. Congress adjourned without completing work on 9 of the 11 bills needed to appropriate funds for the fiscal year that began the previous Oct 1.

Photo courtesy U.S. House Democratic Cloakroom.

Sometimes we have objectives that elude us over a long period of time. When this happens, we usually remain unaware of the situation, until by "happenstance" the question arises: "Why haven't I accomplished that?" Here are some of the "answers" that enable continuation of the status quo.

  • Something came up and I put everything else on hold.
  • I made progress, but then I came to where I didn't know what to do.
  • I came to where I had to make a choice, and I couldn't make up my mind.
  • I came to where I had to make a choice, and I chose another path, which now seems to be a mistake, but I can't fix it right now.
  • I can see how to get something like what I want, but it isn't exactly right, so I'm waiting.
  • I found something really interesting to do, and that got me off track, but I'm back now.
  • I've had a lot on my plate, but I plan to get moving now.
  • I have a lot on my plate right now, but I plan to get moving soon.
  • I think I'll be having a lot on my plate soon, but I plan to get moving after that.
  • It looks like changes are coming, and I might get what I want without having to do anything, so I'm waiting.
  • Somebody needed my help and I had to give her (him) all my attention.
  • To make progress, I'd have to give up what I'm doing, and since I like what I'm doing OK, it seems too risky.
  • Somebody I respect advised me to give it up.
  • Somebody I don't respect advised me to give it up, but since even an idiot can be right once in a while, I gave it up.
  • I noticed that someone else is much further along, and it seemed like I would probably lose out, so I gave up.
  • I can see how to get
    something like what
    I want, but it isn't
    exactly right, so I'm waiting
    It looked like there would be a big obstacle a few months (years) down the road, so I'm waiting to see if I can find a way around.
  • I heard there would be a better opportunity someday, so I decided to wait.
  • It does look good, but there are some serious problems with it, so I'm going slow.
  • They told me it was a done deal, and I had a lock on it, so I waited for the announcement, and then it went to someone else. Now I'm just disgusted.
  • If I go for it and I fail, I'll lose credibility and then I'll never be able to get what I want ever again.

Maybe now would be a good time to see what your own personal list looks like. Or maybe you can do it later. Go to top Top  Next issue: When Fear Takes Hold  Next Issue

Go For It: Sometimes It's Easier If You RunLove the work but not the job? Bad boss, long commute, troubling ethical questions, hateful colleague? This ebook looks at what we can do to get more out of life at work. It helps you get moving again! Read Go For It! Sometimes It's Easier If You Run, filled with tips and techniques for putting zing into your work life. Order Now!

Your comments are welcome

Would you like to see your comments posted here? rbrenGBFYqdeDxZESDSsjner@ChacmtFQZGrwOdySPdSsoCanyon.comSend me your comments by email, or by Web form.

About Point Lookout

Thank you for reading this article. I hope you enjoyed it and found it useful, and that you'll consider recommending it to a friend.

Point Lookout is a free weekly email newsletter. Browse the archive of past issues. Subscribe for free.

Support Point Lookout by joining the Friends of Point Lookout, as an individual or as an organization.

Do you face a complex interpersonal situation? Send it in, anonymously if you like, and I'll give you my two cents.

Related articles

More articles on Personal, Team, and Organizational Effectiveness:

A tugboat at workBecome a Tugboat Captain
If your job responsibilities sometimes require that you tell powerful people that they must do something differently, you could find yourself in danger from time to time. You can learn a lot from tugboat captains.
Why phones are noisyThe True Costs of Cubicles
Although cubicles do provide facility cost savings compared with walled offices, they do so at the price of product development delays and increased product development costs. Decisions of facilities planners can have dramatic project schedule impact.
An appealing plate of pasta (not what I ate that evening)If Only I Had Known: II
Ever had one of those forehead-slapping moments when someone explained something, or you suddenly realized something? They usually involve some idea or insight that would have saved you much pain, trouble, and heartache, if only you had known.
Navy vs. Marine Corps tug of war in Vera Cruz, Mexico ca. 1910-1915Holding Back: I
When members of teams or groups hold back their efforts toward achieving group goals, schedule and budget problems can arise, along with frustration and destructive intra-group conflict. What causes this behavior?
Drawing the line between one category and the nextMeets Expectations
Many performance management systems include ratings such as "meets expectations," "exceeds expectations," and "needs improvement." Many find the "meets" rating demoralizing. Why?

See also Personal, Team, and Organizational Effectiveness for more related articles.

Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout

Braided streams in Grewingk Glacier RiverComing March 3: Risk Acceptance: One Path
When a project team decides to accept a risk, and when their project eventually experiences that risk, a natural question arises: What were they thinking? Cognitive biases, other psychological phenomena, and organizational dysfunction all can play roles. Available here and by RSS on March 3.
NASA's Mars Climate Orbiter, which was lost on attempted entry into Mars orbitAnd on March 10: On Repeatable Blunders
When organizations make mistakes, they sometimes acknowledge them and learn how to avoid repeating them. And sometimes they conceal them or even deny they happened. When they conceal mistakes or deny they occurred, repetition is more likely. Available here and by RSS on March 10.

Coaching services

I offer email and telephone coaching at both corporate and individual rates. Contact Rick for details at rbrenGBFYqdeDxZESDSsjner@ChacmtFQZGrwOdySPdSsoCanyon.com or (650) 787-6475, or toll-free in the continental US at (866) 378-5470.

Get the ebook!

Past issues of Point Lookout are available in six ebooks:

Reprinting this article

Are you a writer, editor or publisher on deadline? Are you looking for an article that will get people talking and get compliments flying your way? You can have 500-1000 words in your inbox in one hour. License any article from this Web site. More info

Public seminars

The Power Affect: How We Express Our Personal Power

Many The Power Affect: How We Express Personal Powerpeople who possess real organizational power have a characteristic demeanor. It's the way they project their presence. I call this the power affect. Some people — call them power pretenders — adopt the power affect well before they attain significant organizational power. Unfortunately for their colleagues, and for their organizations, power pretenders can attain organizational power out of proportion to their merit or abilities. Understanding the power affect is therefore important for anyone who aims to attain power, or anyone who works with power pretenders. Read more about this program.

Bullet Points: Mastery or Madness?

DecisBullet Point Madnession-makers in modern organizations commonly demand briefings in the form of bullet points or a series of series of bullet points. But this form of presentation has limited value for complex decisions. We need something more. We actually need to think. Briefers who combine the bullet-point format with a variety of persuasion techniques can mislead decision-makers, guiding them into making poor decisions. Read more about this program.

Follow Rick

Send email or subscribe to one of my newsletters Follow me at LinkedIn Follow me at Twitter, or share a tweet Subscribe to RSS feeds Subscribe to RSS feeds
The message of Point Lookout is unique. Help get the message out. Please donate to help keep Point Lookout available for free to everyone.
Technical Debt for Policymakers BlogMy blog, Technical Debt for Policymakers, offers resources, insights, and conversations of interest to policymakers who are concerned with managing technical debt within their organizations. Get the millstone of technical debt off the neck of your organization!
Go For It: Sometimes It's Easier If You RunBad boss, long commute, troubling ethical questions, hateful colleague? Learn what we can do when we love the work but not the job.
303 Tips for Virtual and Global TeamsLearn how to make your virtual global team sing.
101 Tips for Managing ChangeAre you managing a change effort that faces rampant cynicism, passive non-cooperation, or maybe even outright revolt?
101 Tips for Effective MeetingsLearn how to make meetings more productive — and more rare.
Exchange your "personal trade secrets" — the tips, tricks and techniques that make you an ace — with other aces, anonymously. Visit the Library of Personal Trade Secrets.
If your teams don't yet consistently achieve state-of-the-art teamwork, check out this catalog. Help is just a few clicks/taps away!
Ebooks, booklets and tip books on project management, conflict, writing email, effective meetings and more.