This is often seen in many athletic environments. It’s seen on the back of t-shirts, sweatshirts, hats and even on the walls of weight rooms.
These are two simple yet powerful words.
The slogan urges you to maintain focus and to put in the physical and mental work needed to perform at your best. There are no excuses for doing something that could hold you back from peak performance or avoiding the necessary work that needs to be put in required for optimum athletic performance.
Yet think about how often do we make excuses that impact our training and preparation?
Maybe it is an excuse not to train today or to slack off in the weight room.
Maybe it is an excuse you make in order to justify that second dessert.
Or maybe it is you blaming the weather, or your negative attitude, for your lackluster athletic performance during practice. There is any number of things you could blame for why you’re not prepared to perform your best.
As with many of the mental strength skills I’ve discussed, the idea of making no excuses, of holding yourself accountable for your behavior is easy to understand but much more difficult to implement.
In life you get one of two things:
1. The result you want
2. The excuses for not getting them
The more focus on giving excuses, the more you move away from creating peak athletic performance.
Get rid of excuses and what you are left with are results…they may not be exactly what you wanted…but when you acknowledge that you did get a result, you can now take responsibly and create a different result.
How would you act and think if you believed and acted as if all you get are results and there is no room for excuses?
While the words are powerful, it is the action behind the words that speaks volumes.
Do you back up these words with action?
Looking back, an athlete can easily identify when excuses have been used as a crutch, but then it is too late. The workout or performance has already been compromised.
Think back on the past few weeks of your training and isolate the situations where you may have allowed excuses to impact your behavior. This will take some mental strength to be honest with yourself, and it will be worth it.
Looking back, were there moments where you thought:
- “I could have given more”
- “I should have gotten up early to train even though it was snowing”
- “I wish I could have that workout to do-over?”
- Or any other of your favorite and convenient excuses
My guess is you can identify at least one situation where you came up with an excuse to not work as hard as you could have, to not train on a given day, or to explain a less than stellar athletic performance or training behavior.
Awareness of how, when and where you make excuses is important. It’s through this awareness that you can attempt to change your future behavior and reach peak athletic performance.
Besides opening your eyes to the excuses you make, an additional challenge is to figure out how to be pro-active as opposed to reactive. So, instead of identifying excuses after the fact and “kicking yourself” for it, let’s work stopping them before they impact your behavior and athletic performance. You do this again by identifying your tendencies and patterns. It is a tough challenge and will take mental strength. Here is an example to help you walk through one way to do this.
Brad, a triathlete, doesn’t miss a single day of training. He has been training hard for years and tends to do decent in races but never quite achieves his athletic performance goals.
When critically analyzing his preparation and training, it becomes apparent that the truly “hard workout days” present a barrier for him. On these hard training days, he has a tendency to back off a bit. He always has a reason for backing off —one day it is the wind in his face on the bike, another it is the slight twinge he felt in his quad earlier that day, another it is thinking about the work that needs to be done back at the office.
But the reasons differ every time so they seem separate, are these excuses, maybe?
For Brad, he tends to come up with seemingly “valid reasons” not to get after it on his hard training days. But in analyzing his preparation, it is interesting how these things only pop up on the hard days.
His training is just where it should be on the lighter days. Analyzing his performance, Brad recognizes that he is making excuses, and just as importantly, he realizes how important those hard days are to reaching his athletic performance goals.
It finally clicks that there is a cause-effect relationship and those excuses are keeping him from performing at his best and reaching his athletic performance goals.
Apply this to yourself, do you have excuse tendencies?
It is important to identify these patterns because then it becomes easier to than avoid them. By knowing the specific situations and factors that seem to bring up the excuses, you can be pro-active in avoiding them.
For some of you, it may also be valuable to dig deeper and take a look below the surface to see what might be going on. Is there a reason why you are coming up with excuses that need to be addressed head on?
Back to our example, Brad identified a tendency to have excuses on hard training days, excuses that gave him a reason to back off or scale down his effort and expectations.
Is it that he’s just lazy and needs to buckle down and not give in to his excuses?
When he analyzed it, Brad realized he puts immense pressure on himself to reach the time goals he set for himself on these training days, but he really does not believe he could run, swim, or cycle that fast.
So, no, he is not being lazy, but rather his lack of confidence is at the forefront of the excuses. His challenge now becomes working to build his self-confidence (perhaps by focusing on different goals, recording his daily successes, and using imagery to experience success) not simply monitor excuses he makes.
Go ahead and apply this to yourself, is there a common thread behind excuses you use? Or are you going to make an excuse for not doing it?
Whether it is lack of enjoyment, motivation issues, competing priorities, fear of failure, or some other thread, it needs to be identified to truly be tackled
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