[vimeo id="130364841"] C. S. Lewis once said, “An explanation of cause is not a justification by reason.” In other words, explaining what happened doesn’t justify your actions. Now every leader, everywhere, in every age has made mistakes. The sooner a leader prepares for this, the more effective they will be in the future. The most important thing a leader can do to be prepared for mistakes is committing to an attitude of either explanations or excuses. Excuses make statements. Explanations ask questions. Here are three statements excuses make and three questions explanations ask about yourself.
An excuse says, “I won’t be changing.” An explanation asks, “How should I have done it?” When you excuse your actions, you’re telling your manager that you didn’t make a mistake. Your manager will interpret this as you saying, “I don’t need to change because I’m not doing anything wrong.” When you explain your actions, you’re asking your manager where the problem in your thinking is. Your manager will interpret this as a desire to do better.
An excuse says, “I’m not in control.” An explanation asks, “How can I prepare for this?” Now, sometimes things happen that you weren’t expecting. Excusing your actions is trying to argue you were doing the right thing. It’s somebody else’s fault. It’s out of my control. You essentially say, “I’m helpless.” The difference is an explanation again demonstrates a desire to do better. If it’s not in your immediate control, then how can you be best prepared for it? Instead of shifting responsibility, an explanation asks for more responsibility.
An excuse says, “I’m concerned about the present.” An explanations asks, “How can we change the future?” Excuses are solely aimed at the here-and-now. They are focused on getting through this issue so you can get back to your normal routine. The heart-attitude behind an excuse is to stay comfortable where you are. Explanations are future-oriented and visionary. They are focused on improving the current system so you can avoid mistakes in the future. The attitude behind an explanation is creative and courageous.
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