5 Ways To Stop Excuses And Inspire Results

Big goals. Frustrating roadblocks. Concerns grow into excuses. Venting fuels negativity.
Weak leaders excuse excuses.
Strong leaders reframe thinking.
Growing leaders inspire possibility.

A Few of My Favorites

  • “We would sell more, if the product line were different”
  • “Our attrition would be better, if our competitor wasn’t paying more”
  • “My quality results would be higher, if I wasn’t assigned to the late shift”
  • “The employees would be more engaged, if this wasn’t a union environment”
  • “Our stock would be doing better, if the economy were better”
  • ___________?

Take a minute to fill in your favorite excuses to your most significant business problems. The issues are real. Inspire beyond the excuses.

Inspire Beyond Excuses

  1. Acknowledge reality - Don’t defend or sugar coat. Share work underway by others. Brainstorm creative solutions, but then move on. Clearly articulate what is beyond the team’s scope. If it’s gravity acknowledge that too.
  2. “Sell the bananas on the truck.” - When my sales team complained that they needed a different product mix, I had one response, “sell the bananas on the truck.” If you have bananas, find the people who need bananas, and meet their needs. Drive to where the banana eaters live. Stop wishing you had mangos. Align on what’s within their control. Brainstorm a list. You can impact most of what matters. Encourage past frustration.
  3. Reinforce - vision and purpose. Empower contribution to the bigger picture. “When you win despite X7@#$%#$%, what will that mean to your team?.. our customers? the company? your career?”
  4. Recognize - those succeeding despite the obstacles. Someone always has their head down winning. Celebrate success. It’s hard to make excuses when others around you are knocking it out of the park under the same conditions. In my “bananas on the truck” role I created a “century club, for anyone that got to 100. That seemed crazy at the time, when 7 was a big win. We celebrated every Century Club member with passion (not a lot of $, just excitement and personal attention). Soon 100 felt easy.
  5. Show them the Data - Complaining magnifies concerns. Data grounds issues in reality. “The competition is causing our attrition” can be countered with, “2 of 40 have left to work for a competitor how could we have saved the other 38?”

*“Sell the bananas on the truck” I took this pic in Costa Rica… this guy was literally selling the banana on his truck. Inspiring.

How do you lead beyond excuses? Do you like Let’s Grow Leaders? Spread the word by subscribing, commenting and sharing.
Filed Under:   Results & Execution
Karin Hurt
Karin Hurt
Karin Hurt is a leadership speaker, consultant, and MBA professor. She's a former Verizon Wireless executive with two decades of diverse cross-functional experience in sales, customer service and HR. Karin was named as a top 100 Thought Leader in Trustworthy Business Behavior by Trust Across America. She is author of, "Overcoming an Imperfect Boss: A Practical Guide to Building a Better Relationship With Your Boss." Karin knows the stillness of a yogi, the reflective road of a marathoner and the joy of being a mom raising emerging leaders.

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What People Are Saying

Steve Borek   |   26 June 2013   |   Reply

I spent over two decades as a Sales Executive in the computer industry.

The majority of that time I sold expensive ERP software systems.

I never had the best product. Good, average, but not great.

The most important thing I learned was, it’s not about the product. It’s about the relationship you have with your customer.

p.s. I eat bananas every day. Couldn’t live without them.

letsgrowleaders   |   26 June 2013   |   Reply

Steve, thanks for the important story. I’m a big fan of bananas too.

Dave Bratcher   |   26 June 2013   |   Reply

How many times have I seen this. People spending so much time trying to sell what they want to sell and so little time on what the consumer wants to buy. Great post Karin.

letsgrowleaders   |   26 June 2013   |   Reply

Dave, it’s funny how selling what you want to sell just doesn’t work ;-)

Dan   |   26 June 2013   |   Reply

I like Wayne Dyers book “Excuses Begone.” An excuse never got anyone closer to success.

letsgrowleaders   |   26 June 2013   |   Reply

Thanks, for the recommendation. I love his work, but haven’t read that one. Adding it to the list.

Alma Escamilla   |   26 June 2013   |   Reply

I will share this with five people today, I love it! Sell the bananas on the truck must go down as a moment of brilliance. Bananas will go bad if I wait around for my excuses to be heard, sell those bananas while they’re fresh!! So much I can do with this story. We over complicate things don’t we? I’m always energized by stopping in at LGL. Great day everyone!

letsgrowleaders   |   26 June 2013   |   Reply

Alma, Thanks so much… I appreciate you sharing it and your kind words.

Lolly Daskal   |   26 June 2013   |   Reply


I love it..

For all of us when we feel pressured we go to our default and that may be we find ourselves making excuses.

But if we can STAY PRESENT and see that what may look as difficulties is really just another opportunity for us to grow and expand our vision, our wisdom our lives. WE can take the significance out our struggles.

STAY present with what is happening and be innovative how solve it.

Thanks so much for sharing.


Lolly Daskal
Lead From Within

letsgrowleaders   |   26 June 2013   |   Reply

Thanks so much. Loved your post on being present. And yes, borrow any bananas you need ;-)

Sridhar Laxman   |   27 June 2013   |   Reply

Wonderful post, addresses the key malaise afflicting talented people.

A client of mine took the ’30 day no excuses’ challenge and is now bouncing off the walls in joy.It has changed the way he approaches the work day, his energy is so infectious it inspired his team members to commit to the same challenge.He is now gunning to transform the business unit and hopefully the rest of the organization too with the same mantra.

Its amazing how resourceful one can be when freed from the shackles of excusitis*.

(* A term coined by David Schwartz)

Brian Pipping   |   01 July 2013   |   Reply

Great stuff. Useable!