Did you know that you give away your power to make a good impression when you lead with excuses?
Don’t make excuses, make good.
At my songwriting retreats, I start each day with a pseudo-Socratic Seminar, posing a single question to a group of songwriters. I might ask, “What are you most afraid of?” or “What drives you to write songs.” The questions give me a sense of who the songwriters are and permit them to do a bit of introspective self-analysis. One thing I am constantly amazed by is a collective inability to give a straightforward response. The majority of my songwriters feel the need to justify, explain or excuse.
For example, I often ask the following: “What is your creative process?”.
A straightforward answer might look like this: “I sit down at the piano and come up with an emotional melody first and then I put lyrics to them” or “I don’t write music. So I come up with a rough lyric and then get with a co-writer who is a better musician to finish the song.” Clear, succinct, and to the point.
Most people, however, stumble over their responses. They might say something like this: “I write the lyrics first, sometimes it starts with just an idea, but I like to piece the words together by myself. I don’t like to work with anyone else. Music is harder for me and I should be playing the guitar more, but it may be too late for me and I haven’t had time. So, then I will put a little track together and put my vocal on the song, even though I don’t really like my voice. I took some lessons but never stayed with it.”
Right there, our songwriter has given away his power to make a good impression. By feeding me excuses and revealing his shortcomings, he has given me the go-ahead to negatively pre-judge him. And, before he knows it, he has sabotaged himself with stories of his excuses and shortcomings.
Because of that story, I now see someone who is not confident in their voice (I don’t really like my voice), even though it has everything to do with being a successful songwriter, does not play well with others (I don’t like to work with anyone else), and is not dedicated to his career (I took some lessons but never stayed with it).
Is that the impression you want to give? Is that what you want me to hear? No!
Ninety-nine percent of the failures come from people who have the habit of making excuses.
George Washington Carver
Think about when you call to cancel a doctor’s appointment and the receptionist answers. Do you really think she cares one ounce about why you can’t come in? No. She only needs to know when you want to reschedule.
By giving her an excuse, like your car has a flat, that you can’t get ahold of your boyfriend, or that your Auto club card expired, it makes you sound scattered and unprofessional.
Life is easier for everyone if you just call in and simply reschedule the appointment!
How you use your words is important for your future. Words are the tools that will help you present yourself as professional and likable throughout your journey. When you lead with excuses, you immediately tarnish your reputation. Always speak with confidence, intent, and remember, less is more.
The real man is one who always finds excuses for others, but never excuses himself.
Henry Ward Beecher