I recently read Rich Dad’s Prophecy by Robert Kiyosaki with Sharon Lechter. The book covers personal finance, and more specifically, how to build one’s financial ark to prepare for the next big financial crash. It taught me that many financial outcomes we face could actually be attributed back to one’s own behaviours. The behaviour of using excuses, covered in Chapter 15, particularly stood out. This is because we all, at times, tell ourselves – and others – excuses in order to justify why things haven’t been done and push away our own accountability. Reflecting on the concept, I believe that developing the mindset to challenge our inner excuse voice is as vital for martial arts as it is for personal finance…or any other area in life for that matter. This article explores the types of excuses we may give ourselves, and how we could challenge these, so that our mindset can become more focused as martial artists, rather than becoming an excuse artist.
The excuse ‘types’
Quite simply, we make excuses to avoid accountability for something we set out to do that didn’t deliver on what we had anticipated. From my experience over the years, I’ve identified 3 main ‘types’ of excuses that may cloud a practitioner’s mindset:
1. The ‘Someday’ excuse
These practitioners have the best intentions to get up and work hard towards their goals. When do they start putting their plan to action? It tends to be ‘tomorrow’, ‘after X happens’, or ‘someday’. Granted, these people may start and keep committed for a period of time and then stop. When it comes to restarting, they tell themselves and others it will happen, but in vague terms. Why? Because quite frankly, their mindset isn’t focused to actually do something when the time comes. They may even try to reason that life’s events ‘got in the way’. In other words: more talk than action – and not as committed as they thought.
2. The ‘Limitations’ excuse
What restricts these practitioners from growth is their self-defeating perceptions. It might be to do with their age, weight, height, gender, or other factor. They might feel this way in general or someone’s negative views have been accepted as their reality. Admittedly, I found myself fighting this inner excuse type during many years training – thinking that I wasn’t strong enough, fit enough, or biologically as capable to do what I saw male practitioners do. Having this limiting mindset means that the battle is already lost before it’s even started. (I’ll add here that I now have control my Limitation inner voice excuses.)
3. The ‘External Factor’ excuse
These practitioners have a tendency to look at what others are doing and want their assistance, rather than what they can and should be doing by themselves. This inner excuse voice tells these people that they can’t advance without support or attention. They feel they need others frequently motivating them, praising them, or guiding them in order to progress. As a result, they are less likely to undertake training outside the session. These people are simply not accountable for their own actions and growth.
Once you identify which inner excuse voice resonates with you the most, the next task is to become more active to identify when you hear yourself making an excuse. It helps to pause and reflect the reason you are providing before you say it. How you then address the excuse is different depending on the excuse type.
If your inner excuse voice fits with the ‘Someday’ type, you’ll need to honestly reflect whether you’re genuinely committed towards your goal. If you are, then perhaps you’ll need to break it down to be more manageable and more focused. By this, your mindset will also become more focused. If you realise that you really aren’t fully committed, you also need to be real with yourself about it. For example, using ‘no time’ is not a valid reason. A more accurate reason is that you have other tasks that you consider higher priority – and that’s ok too.
If your inner excuse voice fits with the ‘Limitations’ type, you really need to work on actively stopping that voice in its tracks. An internal comeback such as ‘but what if I tried?’ can be helpful here. Even if you convince yourself to try something, persistence is key to achievement. If you stop early, the excuse reinforces itself – and that will limit your growth as a martial artist. This is a question of: how far are you willing to push yourself to become a better version of you?
Lastly, if your inner excuse voice fits with the ‘External Factor’ type, it may help to determine what elements the support of others help you progress, and what you can work on by yourself. Once you define this, focus to improve on the specific areas you highlight that you can do independently. You will notice in time that what you can do alone will increase. Also, work on your mindset to focus on you, rather than what others are doing – that way it will enhance efforts towards your development.
The more you become aware of your excuses, the better you can manage them. It’s not uncommon to have excuses enter our minds, but we can certainly make an active choice in how we manage these and our actions that follow.
Do you have a story to share about how you controlled your inner voice of excuses and progressed as a martial artist? If so, drop a message!
Book reference: Kiyosaki, R.T., with Lechter, S.L. (2002). Rich Dad’s Prophecy. New York: Warner Books.