How many times have you had staff members who didn’t get the job done on time? Have many excuses have you heard for why they failed? Are you tired of hearing excuses and want your team members to perform at a higher level?

If your answer is yes, then how do you achieve that?

This may sound a little bit harsh, but the best way to create an environment where your team members reach their potential is to deny them the ability to use excuses.

You have to inform them early in their training that you don’t accept excuses or reasons why a project or a report is incomplete or late. This is taking a strong stance, but when you have high expectations, your team members will strive to meet them.

In the beginning, your team members might try to rationalize there are differences between reasons and excuses, but the truth is that reasons are just excuses dressed up in tuxedos. Whether your employees call it a “reason” or an “excuse,” they are still finding a way they cannot get their jobs done.

Reasons and excuses prevent them from finding a way to complete their tasks. The question they need to learn to ask is: “How many reasons does it take to keep me completing my task?”

The answer: JUST ONE.


When they allow themselves reasons why they can’t have what they want, they settle. They tell themselves the story that they have this limitation that is in their way. They can’t get under it, beyond it or through it. They are stuck because they have a reason. Once they are stuck, they can excuse themselves from not completing an assignment, failing to make a crucial phone call, or solidifying an appointment.

They are off the hook. They have a reason why they failed.

What would happen if you didn’t allow your team members to have reasons why they failed and excuses were not allowed? Would they start looking for possibilities? Would they work harder to create solutions?


There are many people who decided they were not going to allow anything to get in their path to victory. One of the names which come to mind is Nick Vujicic. He was born with tetra-amelia syndrome, a rare congenital condition, which left him without arms or legs. The amazing thing is that he can still swim, kick a soccer ball, play golf, and brush his teeth. He travels around the world speaking to others and giving them motivational talks!

There are plenty of other people who have not allowed a physical limitation to stop them. What about the brilliant physicist Steven Hawking? He has ALS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a motor neuron disease which has left him entirely paralyzed. Yet, he managed to write a best seller on the British Sunday Times for 237 weeks, secured a position as a Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge, and was a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States.

Nick Vujicic and Stephen Hawking did not find excuses or reasons; they found possibilities. Imagine what your team members could do if they chose to look for possibilities rather than finding a reason.


One caveat here: there is a difference between high expectations and being unrealistic. It is a difficult balance to strike as a leader. You want your people to develop their abilities by understanding that you believe in them. You structure your no excuse rule through positive reinforcement and pushing your people past self-imposed limitations. This is not meant as a cruel devise to punish people, but rather to get them to see that if they don’t allow themselves an out, they will find a solution.