Are you taking action or making excuses?

By Sandy Schussel

Sandy Schussel, LLC

Beware the “But Monster”

“I couldn’t make calls for new business this week like I said I would,” my client, Rick, lamented a few years ago, “Because you forgot to send me the chart you promised.”

It was true. I had agreed to email Rick a master sheet — an Excel spreadsheet that could serve as a manual alternative to the difficult software he had been trying to use to manage his client relationships—and I had forgotten to send it. But, in my defense, whenever you have an opportunity to move forward that might cause you some discomfort, there are two things you can do about it: take action or make excuses.

And making excuses (e.g., blaming other people for your inaction) is always the easier choice.

Rick’s failure to make those calls didn’t really have anything to do with the master sheet I forgot to send him. He had simply stopped at Wimp Junction, the place where opportunity meets fear, and fear takes command. Rick had had an opportunity to garner some business, but he had been afraid, so he had used my failure to send him a new contact manager as his excuse for not trying to expand his contact base that week.

Wimp Junction is fear’s favorite hangout, and fear often takes shape as the “But Monster.” The But Monster is the guy or gal who gets into your head and makes you say “Yes … but”— certain self-defeating things — against your will. For example, “Yes, I would have made those calls, but …” or, “Yes, I really want to grow my business, but …”

The But Monster is also fond of the phrase, “If only…”

“I’d start working with you next week, Sandy, if only …”

Recognize either of these symptoms in your life? My friend Barrie once sent me an excerpt from an article by Curt Rosengren, a fellow coach, about a tool he used called 5-to-1. Curt’s idea was that when you catch yourself avoiding something you know you need to do to move ahead with your plans, write down what you believe the real obstacle is, and then write down five possible ways around it.

Curt recommended keeping a journal of each obstacle you encounter along with the five solutions you then choose to acknowledge. In my experience, most of the obstacles we run into are internal, and they are usually erected — at least, in part — by my fair weather friend, the But Monster.

When you see him, realize you might be stuck in Wimp Junction, and start looking for your first ticket out of there by recognizing, foremost, that there are exit strategies available; there is a way to go forward. Still stuck at the junction? Get yourself a coach. Otherwise, keep moving and keep reaching.