At work I have been helping coach a friend who has turned his future around since he started exercising regularly.

At over 300 pounds he hit his breaking point with stress of work, and the stress of his only child turning into a normal teen had turned his life into a vicious loop of no sleep, despair and poor health. He had a blunt talk with his doctor. He started lifting weights and doing cardio. He has lost over 50 pounds over 2 years and has about 20 to go. Recently he had an injury to his back not related to exercising but had to stop lifting. But now he has taken lessons to learn to swim and is swimming every day and back on track.

He got most of his specific advice from his weight coach, but I was helping him with his cardio work and just keeping him motivated in general. He went from never being on a competitive team to an athlete over these two years. Before his back injury he was doing amazing weight workouts. Now that he sees the benefits from exercising he is hooked on it and has been thanking me for helping him through those hard first days, when the road seems impossibly long. A few things he has repeatedly told me he learned from me are:

1. We are most vulnerable to self sabotage when we are feeling most stressed. Recognizing this is half the battle of overcoming your self defeating excuses of why you can't. But the reverse is also true, stress leads to feelings of hopelessness and excuses of why we can not possibly exercise and do anything which bring more stress. He now spots those sub-conscious sabotages. I think what he likes most about lifting is how you can surprise even yourself when you think you can't and positively encourage yourself.

2. Do it when you can. Always look for that window of opportunity and the opportunity that is there, not the one you ideally wish for. He was really down when he had to stop lifting, but was grateful that he did it while he still could. Now he sees how taking advantage of those small opportunities that you do have leads to bigger and better things. Dropping his weight and staying in shape now has his doctor hopeful that he can return to a modified lifting program again. People think that if they try and fail they will have a lifetime of regrets, but most people end up having bigger regrets thinking back on missed opportunities. If you try and fail, you can always be grateful that you tried when you could.

Scott Brooks lectures: 

Too many people in our great country are unwilling to accept responsibility, and there are way too many people that are willing to let others do most, if not all, of the work. There are certainly far too many people that are unwilling to lead, let alone exercise the qualities of a true honorable, virtuous leader. But far too many people lack any discernible talent beyond being absolute experts at finding the "Perfectly Legitimate Excuse."

Al Corwin agrees:

The larger the bureaucracy, the more you can survive as an excuse maker. Small organizations can't tolerate excuse makers because one excuse equals one failure, and that can bring down the organization. Only large organizations can tolerate excuses, and the excuses often even [destroy] them.

However, I am not alarmed by the pursuit of the legitimate excuse. Excuse makers are my competitors. I just don't want to slide into their camp myself. I've been there and probably will occasionally go there again, The perfectly legitimate excuse is just for oneself. When you try to pass it to others, they will almost always see it for the counterfeit that it is.


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