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In 2012, Maria Kang was a young mom with three small kids when she issued  a challenge to other moms to knock of the excuses and get fit. With the caption of , “What’s Your Excuse,” she posted a picture of herself along with her three boys on Facebook showing off her very lean abdomen. Within a year, this image and her challenge went viral.

Oddly, but no longer surprisingly, not everyone interpreted Maria’s story as a positive inspiration. Instead, it was converted into “cyber-bullying,” “fat-shaming” (does anyone know if fat shaming needs a hyphen) and even “hate-speech” for which Facebook temporarily shut down her account. For good measure, she was also labeled as the “beneficiary of unfair privilege.” Good grief!

Please don’t ask me to explain how a challenge to be fit and healthy was perverted into a negative. But, unfortunately, we have become soft as a nation. And, I’m not just speaking about belly fat. It seems we’re soft on principle, soft on responsibility, soft on accountability and soft on success. We need more citizens like Maria stepping forward and raising the bar. From top to bottom, we need less enabling and excuse-making.

When I’m coaching my clients, I challenge them to do better and become better. I push them to raise their standards. I remind them of what’s possible. I equip them with better strategies to upgrade their results. I help them ingrain more productive habits. I hold them accountable. Maybe I’m really “success shaming” them or could it be that I am a “goals bully?”

I remember the first time I heard the classic homework excuse, “My dog ate my homework” from a third-grade classmate who didn’t even have a dog. The entire class, including the teacher, broke out in laughter. I don’t remember whether the excuse was “effective,” but I do remember the laughter and the combination embarrassed/proud expression on the face of my classmate. Today, I guess we’d all be called “homework bullies” or “grade shamers.”

But, looking back, I realize how appropriate and natural the laughter was. Excuses should be laughed at, not dignified as they frequently are in today’s “safe environments” which seem to be popping up all over the place. As responsible individuals, we believe that it is up to us to manufacture or locate the solutions to the challenges of life. Whether it is something big or small, we’re still responsible, and each time we give an excuse we diminish our respect, our credibility, and our integrity in our own eyes as well as the eyes of others.

Years ago, the Paralympics used the slogan, “What’s Your Excuse?” Mixing this question with stories of severely challenged athletes accomplishing amazing feats was highly inspirational. Regardless of our setbacks, problems and difficulties, we’d all be better off if we tapped into this powerful question for our own benefit. So ask yourself bluntly: “What is my excuse? What have you been telling yourself to make you feel better about subpar results?

Remember, somebody, somewhere has usually had it far worse than you and still succeeded. And you can triumph as well the moment you want a goal more than you want an excuse. Only when you acknowledge this truth can you be freed to build a future that is far more exciting than your past.

Don’t settle for safety when excellence is possible!

Think about it: Up until now, what have been your favorite or most cherished excuses? You can leave a comment below...

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