“[Y]ou all have faced challenges far greater than anything I or my family have ever experienced, challenges that most... could never even imagine... Some of you have been homeless. Some of you have risked the rejection of your families... Many of you have lain awake at night wondering how on Earth you were going to support your parents and your kids... And many of you know what it’s like to live not just month to month or day to day, but meal to meal. But... let me tell you, you should never, ever be embarrassed by those struggles. You should never view your challenges as a disadvantage. Instead, it’s important for you to understand that your experience facing and overcoming adversity is actually one of your biggest advantages.”
- Michelle Obama
I like when I hear new excuses, though it’s incredibly seldom. Personal training and years of management experience prepared me well for parenthood. After a while, though, I began to notice that when people are presenting the same basic BS, they think they’re coming up with something new: hormones, genetics, age, weight, sex, gender, race, ethnicity, societal expectations, work obligations, kids, house, money, time, motivation, inspiration, chronic disease, terminal illness, deaths of family and friends, relationships, mental health, general sickness, injuries and tweaks, metabolism, stress, pets, vacations, holidays, seasons, etc.
I hear you. And... I heard you, years ago, long before you figured out how to package your equivocations in a good-sounding byte. The problem is this: so what? That’s life. It’s basic. It’s unequal. It’s unfair. It’s inequitable. It’s inhospitable. It’s unforgiving. What are YOU going to DO about it?
It’s real basic to hold up your limitations as a pretext for inaction. Now what?
No one, and I mean NO ONE worth listening to is saying that those challenges aren’t real. Indeed. I agree. Despite my many advantages and privileges, I can usually ante up quite well if we’re going to compare war wounds. So what? What are YOU going to DO? It’s basic to list off what you “can’t do.” What are YOU going to DO? Because, guess what: no one is going to live your life for you. So you can stop waiting for that to happen.
There are people in my network who’ve done so much more with so much less that the here-are-my-challenges-so-I-just-can’t-even excuses are difficult to even hear. Yeah. We get it. Life. It’s this thing other humans have experienced, believe it or not. You do realize there are other humans on earth, right? Now what are YOU going to DO?
I train high level professionals in every industry. You think I haven’t heard a smarter person with greater challenges put together a better-sounding set of excuses? I applaud your effort at excuse-making. I do. Really. This isn’t patronizing. I mean it. Now, put 1/10th of that effort into DOING something.
There is a massive gap between what people believe creates success and what every study on success prediction finds. Advantage is subjective. Background and tools aren’t predictive. And then we’re still left with the question-begging position of how one defines worldly success or if it’s even desirable. Some researchers propose grit-effort ALONE is predictive of success: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30101970. Others, wanting to challenge that hypothesis, merely end up landing on “perseverance” as the predictor instead of “grit.” I think Michelle called it “facing and overcoming adversity.”
I am not dismissing anything. I’m not saying I even know what it’s like. I’m not saying it’s easy. I’m not making a moral judgment, an ethical stance, or a value statement, other than how basic you sound when you hold up those challenges as a disadvantage. Michelle Obama already called you out. I don’t need to. What you may think are shadowy disadvantages can become acute advantages. Quit being so basic.