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A Good Excuse (#3)

The Confident Leader

My daughter started a new soccer season, a happy return of some normalcy. Her team played well in the first half of the game until the other team substituted in their very own David Beckham who scored four goals. Our girls lost.


It turns out this soccer phenome plays on a nationally ranked team. Our side was upset about the apparent bending of the rules. Once we discovered her participation was actually legal, the excuses for the loss started flying, “Well, no wonder. She’s practically a professional.”

“A good excuse is still an excuse!”
— Anonymous

This Week’s Edition

A GOOD EXCUSE: An explanation put forward to justify! As a leader, how do you think about excuses?  Can a good excuse actually excuse a failed performance?

Clarify Your Thinking

Mitch, a CEO client, was thoroughly exasperated. “Robin, this pandemic has destroyed our business. I can’t be face-to-face with my clients and some are cancelling orders. There is nothing I can do. This is going to be a horrible performance year.”

“Mitch, do you feel yourself using Covid as an excuse?” I asked.

“What? No! Well, maybe. Heck… yes, I think I am.” He said, “That’s no good. Regardless, I’m stuck can you help me!”


Leaders like Mitch know that the pandemic is the best excuse most of us will ever encounter in our entire professional lives. No one can argue with it. It’s the perfect defense, but in the end, it is not helpful to create the thinking that sets us up to succeed.


People often provide excuses for poor performance as a defensive mechanism. It allows them to say, “this negative outcome has nothing to do with my own performance, ability, strategy, or effort – but rather it has to do with this external factor beyond my control.”


Unfortunately, this thinking abdicates to some external factor the ownership of the leader’s situation and causes them to doubt their ability to actually succeed. How do we change our thinking from this type of professional victim mode?


I asked my daughter about her team’s soccer loss. She said, “Dad, that amazing player is not an excuse as to why we lost. I think of her as a challenge we have to overcome.” Bam! Mitch, the CEO, choose to reframe his thinking from excuse to challenge which allowed him to see options to overcome his pandemic challenges.

post pandemic vision

Thoughts Lead to Actions

Even with reframed thinking, Mitch still had challenges to overcome: customers cancelling orders; others asking him to hold their product in inventory until after the pandemic; workers suffering from Covid; and, slow production for customers who had not canceled, yet.


Resisting pandemic excuses, Mitch rallied his team. They brainstormed solutions. Ideas were flying. They called clients. They called former clients. They amassed information they previously did not have. This gave rise to insights which gave rise to new ideas. All in, they ended up taking market share from competitors and discovering an underserved new market all during an economic crisis.


The action required to move past an excuse is clear:

o   Remind yourself of the goal.

o   Acknowledge the setback.

o   Assemble an idea team to brainstorm.

o   Be open and collaborate.

o   Test solutions and learn.

o   Rinse and repeat.

Boost Your Performance

Leaders with a growth mindset routinely step out of their comfort zone, where things don’t always go as planned. They see tough times as opportunities for learning and growth rather than reasons to make excuses.

What’s Your Opinion?

Email me the worst excuse you have ever been given.

Don’t let Doubt count you out. Do your leadership part and commit to a hearty restart. Have a confident week!

robin pou, chief advisor and strategist

Robin Pou, Chief Advisor and Strategist

If this was helpful, feel free to share it with another leader who needs to defeat doubt and complete their confidence.

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What is “The Confident Leader”?

During the Covid-19 Pandemic, I began a video series called “Panic or Plan?” It was designed to equip leaders to navigate the doubt they experienced and to rise in the confidence they needed to lead during turbulent times. It took off. I then started this newsletter to equip leaders in the same fashion each week for the doubt that crashes across the bow of their leaderSHIP.

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