I know what prevents most people from achieving the success they want.
But before I tell you, I want you to do one thing right now.
Don’t worry. Nobody around you knows that you’re reading this. You don’t have to worry about “measuring up” to someone’s expectations.
This is just between you and your mind.
All I want you to do is be honest with yourself — truly honest — and answer this question: “Am I giving my best effort?”
Not good. Not even great. But the absolute best that you can do.
I’ll be honest with you. Most days, I don’t give my best effort.
I try very hard, but there is usually a situation I could have managed better, time I could have used more effectively, or a task I could have done that was more important than something I did do.
Why does this happen? Why don’t we do what is best for us?
Keep reading and I’ll tell you…
The danger of our best excuse
We make excuses all the time.
Usually our excuses don’t change things too much. (Your life will move on just fine if you make up an excuse and don’t go out to dinner with some friends tonight.)
But in some cases, we avoid important actions or choices that could literally alter the course of our lives. And when these important decisions come up, we often resort to our best excuses rather than making tough decisions.
The “best excuse” is the excuse that we truly believe. It’s the excuse that we convince ourselves is right. It’s the excuse that holds us back from taking action and makes it easy for us to play it safe.
In other words, the best excuses are the most dangerous ones.
There are an infinite number of ways to come up with an excuse, but our best excuses often reveal themselves in a few ways…
1. The best excuses are actions on a loop.
Sometimes our best excuses don’t seem like excuses at all. They look like action to us, but really it’s just the same action on an endless loop.
“I want to start a business, so I’m going to read more about this.”
“I need to find a new diet to follow.”
“I want to boost my social media presence. I’ll find some good people to follow on Twitter.”
Each of the above actions can be useful if you do it once and move on to the next step … but when you start to do it over and over again, they become an excuse.
The hardest part is that this excuse looks like action. “No really, I’m trying to lose weight. I’ve put 10 hours into finding the best diet plan.”
In the beginning we feel like we’re making progress, but after one time around the track, this repeated action just becomes an excuse.
2. The best excuses are great reasons for not doing something.
Before you think that making excuses is merely the problem of the lazy or uneducated, let me assure you that it’s not.
Smart and successful people (like you and I) are great at creating excuses.
Ask a smart person why they aren’t doing X or Y, and they will come back with a confident answer.
“Well, that works for some people, but that’s not really my style. At this point, I have a pretty good feel for what works for me.”
“It’s best to be prepared. I’m very deliberate about my decisions. I’ll do the proper research on this and then make a call.”
“Yeah, I’ve done some reading on that. It seems like it’s very difficult to do successfully.”
Lame. Lame. Lame.
Here’s the problem: Smart people can come up with legitimate reasons for not doing something all day long. It doesn’t matter what the task is, you can usually find good reason to avoid it.
The real question is, “Is this something you shouldn’t do, or are you simply coming up with a good reason to avoid a tough decision?”
3. The best excuses make useless comparisons.
Comparisons are the ultimate excuse generator.
It’s so easy to look at someone successful, determine why they “made it”, and then conclude that you can’t achieve the same level of success because your situation is different.
“They had X and Y and I don’t, so I shouldn’t bother with doing this.”
“They went to school A and got degree B and I didn’t.”
“Their parents are friends with person Z and mine aren’t, so I can’t make this happen.”
Here’s the tricky thing about comparisons, though… they can actually be useful. In the short term, it can be good to compare yourself to high performers because you can see if you’re taking the right actions.
For example, I’m always comparing myself to what other entrepreneurs are doing. I want to be taking similar actions as successful entrepreneurs and comparing my actions to them helps me determine if I’m on the right track.
But in the grand scheme of things, comparisons are useless. Everyone runs their own race.
You are where you are.
The question is, “Where will you go from here?”
It’s about much more than money
There is more to this than just earning money.
Yes, excuses prevent you from getting more done, building a business, and earning more money. But they also block you from something more valuable.
This quote from English teacher and revered basketball coach, John Wooden, hints at what I’m talking about…
I wanted to give the youngsters under my supervision — whether it be in athletics or in the English classroom — something to which to aspire, other than just a higher mark in the classroom, or more points in some athletic contest.
— Coach John Wooden, on doing your personal best
It’s not just about a “higher mark” or a bigger bank account. It’s about the satisfaction that comes with reaching your full potential.
When I played baseball in college, we had a really good season my senior year. Some of our teammates said we overachieved.
I never bought into that. You know why?
Because overachieving is impossible. You can’t do more than you’re capable of doing.
The problem is, most people never find out what they’re capable of doing. Most people don’t realize how much potential they are leaving on the table.
And that’s why giving your best effort is about more than earning an extra $1,000 or $10,000 or $10,000,000.
Giving your best effort is about achieving what you’re really capable of doing.
It’s about the peace of mind that comes with knowing that you did your absolute best. It’s about closing your eyes at night and knowing that today — even if it was just for one day — you gave your best effort and that so few people can say they did the same.
What have you actually tried?
It doesn’t matter whether it’s dieting or dating or earning more money, we love to whine about how we “have tried everything and nothing works.”
Here’s why most people don’t earn more money: because they try and fail and forget to try again.
They don’t give their best effort when it comes to earning more money.
It’s not that they don’t want to earn more. They definitely want it. But they don’t put in the repeated effort to get it.
It’s easier to complain about a lack of success and go back to browsing the web than it is to struggle through 10 failures before you figure out what works for your situation.
And just to be clear about this: I’m not saying you should work all day.
There is nothing wrong with watching TV or going to the movies or sitting around and doing nothing at all. In fact, if you don’t take time to relax then you’re going to have trouble giving your best effort on a consistent basis.
But there is definitely something wrong with claiming that you have “tried everything” and “nothing seems to work” when you have chosen to sit and watch TV each night. There is nothing wrong with choosing to relax, but own your choice and don’t make it an excuse for not taking action.
Usually when I dish out some tough love like this, the immediate response is “I’ll do whatever I need to do. I have no problem giving up TV. But I just don’t know what to do.”
Fair enough. Sort of.
I know what it’s like to not know the next step. I have exactly zero entrepreneurs in my family. I had no one to talk to about how to start. I had to figure it all out on my own.
So I get that you want to know what to do. I wanted that too.
But here’s the thing… knowledge isn’t enough. It never will be. Even if you learn everything you can and have brilliant ideas, so what?
Anyone can have an idea. Action is what makes an idea worth having.
You don’t need to be perfect to earn more money. You don’t need to find the best system. You just need to pick a system, take action, and stick with it.
In fact, most of the time the only way to win is to try things and fail because you can’t beat failure if you’ve never dealt with it in the first place.
Why do you think so many new entrepreneurs repeat the mistakes of old ones? It’s not because they don’t know about the mistakes. It’s because some things have to be experienced to be learned.
So, don’t send me an email and tell me that you can’t make money because you don’t know what to do.
Don’t know how to promote yourself? Read this.
Don’t know how to take a small step forward? Read this.
Don’t know the best way to start earning more money? Read this.
Don’t know how to be creative? Listen to this.
Don’t know how to get over fear and get started? Watch this.
Don’t know how to start a side job while you have a family? Read this.
Don’t know how to negotiate for a higher salary? Read this.
Don’t know how to get people talking about your business? Read this.
Don’t know how to find your passion? Read this.
Don’t know how to negotiate? Read this.
Don’t know how most people make money online? Read this.
But whatever you do, don’t send me an email and tell me that you don’t know what to do.
Go out and try something. Then send me an email and tell me what didn’t work and we’ll figure out what you should do next.
You don’t need to do it all at once, but you do need to do it more than once.
Start giving your best effort
Do you want something more? Do you want something better? Do you want something to change?
Don’t give up on a dream after one failure. It’s time to own up, take responsibility, and make it happen.
How can you achieve the success that you want and deserve?
Stop giving your best excuse and start giving your best effort.