“I Don’t Have Time”

When my son was little, he wanted me to buy him a toy each time we went to the store. I would usually say no. “Why?” he would ask “Can’t we afford it?” My answer: “We can afford it but, this time, I am not buying this toy.” With the mortgage and school fees, yes, finances were tight. But the fact is, if that toy had been a priority, I could have fit it into the budget.

It is so easy to blame external circumstances.

During a recent consulting assignment, I saw that staff were performing badly, but no coaching or improvement plans had been put in place. Staff were not held to account for poor attendance. They were not trained on basic job skills. The manager routinely came in behind her employees and hoovered up their messes. This was me, earlier in my own career.

Hoovering babyNow it clicked. Those statements about being so busy and never having enough time are excuses that devastate organizations. The truth is that the manager simply avoids difficult conversations and fills her time with things she is comfortable doing – i.e. her staff’s work. Ten-to-one her employees are deeply unhappy.The manager is not planning, improving, or developing. No-one on her staff will have the preparation to step into her position when she retires.

Perhaps people who use excuses as adults learned the behavior as children. I don’t now. But to be on the safe side I would try to explain to a child that an action we are taking is based on a decision we have made. Such a child might become an adult who understands her personal power.

Or perhaps we all have to muddle along until we slowly awaken to the truth that everything we do has an impact on the world, even our attempts to hide from it. Personally, I am sorry it took me so long to figure this out.

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