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6 Excuses Sabotaging Your Career


The stories that we believe have the power to define us – they become our reality.

If we create an empowering story about life, and what we will do with it, it will become our reality. If we cannot control our story, and if a negative narrative consumes us, it will drag us down and create a reality that we don’t want.

Our careers are part of that reality. Below are common excuses that prevent us from having the career that we really want. These are narratives or stories that we need to change if we are going to live a life that we are truly proud of.

  1. I have no qualifications. If you believe this it’s likely that you’ve been conditioned to think that your schooling controls your income. This just isn’t the case. Look around – you will find many examples of people who built great businesses without much school. Sure there are the famous examples (Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Richard Branson), but there are many more much closer to home. Take 10 entrepreneurs out for lunch, you’ll likely find that several of them either don’t have education, or have built a business in an area outside of their schooling. You can get the knowledge you need to succeed.
  2. I’m too old to change. Really? Do you really believe that, or is that just an excuse you’re telling yourself so that you don’t have to face the risk of failure. There is no such thing as too old. Ever heard of a guy named Harlan Sanders? Most people know him as the “Colonel”. He didn’t start KFC until 66. Stan Lee, creator of Spider-Man, he was 43 when he began drawing his characters and his partner Jack Kirby was 44 when he created The Fantastic Four. Andrea Bocelli didn’t do opera until the age of 34. Phyllis Diller became a comedian at the age of 37. You are not too old. If you want it bad enough you’ll find a way to start.
  3. I’m afraid of failing. It is better to risk failure than to never try. Many (most) great people have failed, and every entrepreneur will fail at some point. It is part of the feedback mechanism. It is the way you learn to change your actions. You only ultimately fail if you quit.
  4. I’m waiting for the right time. The right time was probably several years ago. The second best time is right now. There is nothing else. A couple years from now will be no different. There will always be resistance and things that get in your way. So you make a decision right now to live, to make a change, to build whatever it is that is in your heart. Right now is the best time there ever was.
  5. They made it because they’re different. That is a story that you are telling yourself to guard against the unsettling reality that you’re probably not doing all that is in your power to succeed. If you really want something bad enough you’ll find a way to do it. You won’t settle on an excuse that you know deep down just isn’t true. Our world is full of rags to riches stories – people who had nothing to begin with, but who wouldn’t allow excuses to define their reality. Howard Schultz (Starbucks) lived in low-income housing. Oprah Winfrey was born into a poor family in Mississippi. Ralph Lauren was once a clerk at a Brooks Brothers store. No matter what your circumstances are you can change them.
  6. It’s all about who you know, and I don’t know anyone. This is a common excuse that isn’t serving you, and it isn’t true. Leonardo Del Vecchio, the owner of the world’s largest sunglass manufacturer, with brands like Oakley and Ray Ban, was born into an orphanage. Do you think he relied on his “family connections” to get going? Legendary financial trader George Soros survived the Nazi occupation of Hungary and arrived in London as a penniless college student. A single mother in Brooklyn raised Larry Ellison, one of the richest men in the world. It wasn’t his connections that helped him. Jerry Yang, the founder of Yahoo, was an immigrant from Taiwan who didn’t even know English when he came to the US.

Start today. Eliminate those excuses that you are carrying in your head. They aren’t serving you. They aren’t empowering you. They aren’t helping you live the life you want. They don’t need to define you.

About the Author

Ryan Clements is a business consultant, sales trainer, speaker and writer. He consults to companies and entrepreneurs on marketing and sales strategy, and is a frequent speaker and trainer in the areas of sales, marketing, entrepreneurship, productivity, leadership and motivation.  He also writes widely on these subjects and has published a book and given a TEDx talk on career fulfillment, a topic which he speaks often to schools and students about.  For speaking, consulting or training requests please visit his website at