No More Excuses! Clearing 7 Common Roadblocks to Success

We’ve all had co-workers or employees who have excuses for everything, from being tardy to making costly mistakes. It’s the kind of behavior we like to think we are above. The truth is, however, even overachievers make excuses.

I recently saw a list of common excuses that stand in the way of success. They weren’t “the dog ate my homework” variety. Instead, they were the types of nasty self-talk that holds so many of us back from achieving all we could.

This list really resonated with me. I’m a leader and proud of it (heck, I’m even writing a book on the topic). I like to think I’m beyond using excuses as crutches, but I had to admit I still sometimes catch myself engaging in a few of these destructive phrases.

1. “I’m not good enough.”
This one is deadly, but probably the most common. So many professionals I meet — even incredibly talented, intelligent, and accomplished people — suffer from imposter syndrome. They believe they aren’t good enough for a job because they don’t have the “right” experience, education, credentials, whatever it may be.

The truth is, there will always be other people who are more qualified (or smarter or more decorated, etc.), but there are also many more who are less capable than you. “Good enough” is a state of mind. If you believe in yourself, so will others.

2. “I don’t have the time.”
Oh boy, does this one ever hit home. If I had a nickel for every time I relied on this excuse, I’d have more money than Warren Buffet. I’m not alone; I frequently hear these words from the leaders I coach.

How can this be an excuse? There’s a finite amount of time in a day, after all. In reality, though, you make time for things that matter. If you find yourself using your schedule as an excuse for not being successful, you need to reevaluate how you are allocating your hours.

3. “I don’t have the money.”
You have to spend money to make money — many of us accept that phrase at face value. After all, how can you launch the next great app or start a hot new clothing line if you don’t have a hefty amount of seed money already sitting in the bank?

Many of the most successful people made their way to the top without a trust fund to get them started. In fact, 73 of the 100 world’s richest people are self-made billionaires. Instead of making excuses, they crafted plans, worked hard, and took risks.

4. “I don’t know the right people.”

“It’s all about who you know” is another axiom we bandy about as fact. If you don’t play golf with the head of a bank or have an old family friend who sits on the board of a big corporation, you’ll never be able to play in the big leagues, right?

Wrong. Having influential people in your corner can accelerate your success, but those folks needn’t be close friends. If you want to know someone, make it your business to meet them. Knock on enough doors and eventually one of them will open.

5. “It’s not the right time.”
I’ve heard that if you wait until the right time to have a baby, you’ll never have one. The same can be said for business. Waiting to pursue a goal until every detail to be just right is a sure-fire way to never take action.

In reality, right now is always the right time. The first step is always the hardest, but as Lao Tzu said, the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. Moving forward — even in baby steps — is a faster path toward success than standing still.

6. “It’s not that easy.”

So many people never succeed simply because they never try. They’re afraid it will be too hard, that they won’t be able to handle the challenge, and that they’ll ultimately fail.

They’re right. Pursuing a big, hairy, audacious goal is hard work, but nothing worth doing is easy because it’s the effort that makes us appreciate the outcome. Just remember that most people don’t make it out of the starting gates so casting this excuse aside and just trying puts you leaps and bounds ahead of the curve.

7. “I don’t deserve it.”
Similar to #1, this excuse comes from a place of self-doubt. You feel like you didn’t work hard enough, suffer enough, invest enough, fill-in-the-blank enough to earn success. You believe success is a reward and it’s not yours to accept without an appropriate amount of sacrifice or achievement.

Stop. Just stop! Success is for anyone and everyone who wants it, goes after it, and takes it. It’s not about deserving it, it’s about creating it.


Jodie Shaw is Chief Marketing Officer for The Alternative Board, a global company providing small- to medium-sized business owners and leaders help and advice with facilitated monthly business advisory boards together with one-on-one coaching. She is currently writing her first book, All Leaders Make Mistakes. Read the introduction on LinkedIn Pulse. Comments always welcome.