“It is better to offer no excuse than a bad one.” ~ George Washington
If you watched the Presidential Debate last week (and have any semblance of honesty with yourself) you know Mitt Romney was the clear winner. Certainly Barack Obama is a good debater; he proved that four years ago against an outclassed John McCain, but there is no doubt he, as one democrat pundit, James Carville put it, “ran unto a chainsaw” when he took the stage with Mitt Romney. The vast majority of politicos, however, have been quick to offer up bad excuses for President Obama’s poor performance – which brings me to this week’s topic – making excuses.
In the days since the debate we’ve been bombarded with a plethora of lame excuses for President Obama’s performance. Some have blamed the haughty John Kerry, who once served in Viet Nam and was Obama’s debate partner. Some have blamed the debate moderator, Jim Lehrer. I’m not sure why. Some have even said the President is such a high spirited person, his staff gave him too much Zanex to calm him down. Great, you’re telling us the President of the United States was doped up. I heard one report that he didn’t want to appear as “an angry black man”. But by far the best excuse was from the former person who was only one step away from being the President himself, Al Gore. He actually blamed Obama’s performance on the mile high altitude in Denver.
I am no fan of President Obama for a vast array of reasons I won’t go into here, but I would have at least developed a modicum of respect for the man had he had the courage to just admit, “I had a bad performance and my opponent had a good one.” Excuses win no favor with me, nor do they with most people, especially not with customers.
In the business world, a critical part of customer service and developing customer loyalty is the complete absence of excuses. Customers will tolerate the fact that no one is perfect and even the best of businesses make mistakes and have a poor performance from time to time, but when that does happen it is always best to admit your poor performance and not make some lame excuse that will only exacerbate and already tenuous situation.
Pete Rose had more hits than anyone else in baseball history, but if you search the record books you will find many games when he was 0 for 4 at the plate. Michael Jordan dominated the basketball court, but he too had off games on occasion. Pick whoever you may deem as the greatest quarterback of all times and I can assure you they had a few games where they threw more interceptions than touchdowns. No one is perfect! In the postgame interview, that quarterback that accepts responsibility and says, “I had a bad day” will gain much more respect than the one who blamed his receivers, offensive line, the referees or even the altitude in Denver for his poor performance.
We make mistakes in life. We don’t always perform at our best level. Sometimes, even we do operate at our best, things just don’t work out right. Own it. Don’t make the situation even worse by making some transparent excuse. People will respect you for your integrity and honesty, but most important of all, you will respect yourself. There’s simply no excuse for making excuses.
- Bob Herbert: No More Excuses (huffingtonpost.com)
- Al Gore Blames Altitude for Obama Debate Performance (newsy.com)
- #ObamaDebateExcuses result in instant classics. Gold, Jerry, gold (twitchy.com)