I read this quote recently:
“Successful people are so busy getting things done that they don’t have time to make excuses.”
And it saddened me.
It saddened me because of the lack of empathy and the broad generalizations that it paints with its few words. The message it conveys is that, no matter your current situation in life, it’s your fault if you can’t succeed. No matter if a person:
- struggles with depression or other mental health condition,
- is reeling from a recent job loss,
- has been the victim of workplace bullying,
- is barely scraping by working three jobs at minimum wage,
- is faced with a life-altering medical diagnosis,
- is the target of discrimination,
- has suffered any other personal loss, such as a divorce or the death of a loved one,
- has a visible or invisible permanent disability, or
- any of the myriad of life events that are challenging.
Yes, I realize there are people who have been in each of those circumstances listed above and have gone on to rise above their situations. And those stories should give folks hope that they, too, can find their way over their obstacles.
But for each of those stories of triumph over adversity, there has been one common thread in them: there has been someone who has acted as a mentor/support/advocate for the person. Without those key individuals, things could have turned out very differently.
Take a look at these success stories:
Helen Keller, who was rendered blind and deaf after an illness at the age of 19 months, found her connection to the outside world after Annie Sullivan tirelessly worked with her to break down the walls that prevented her from meaningfully communicating with others. She went on to graduate from college and became a well-known author and speaker.
Donald Driver, retired wide receiver for the Green Bay Packers, had a very unstable start in life that included living out of a U-Haul and dealing drugs. Moving in with his grandparents during high school and then meeting his future wife in college proved to be the support he needed to make a new path for himself. In his book Driven, Driver says, “…if you have someone who loves you and looks out for you and if you have a mind to succeed, then anything is possible.”
The Benton Harbor (MI) Tigers had a high school football team that hadn’t amounted to much (0-9 the past two seasons, hadn’t had a winning season since 1989, never been to the playoffs). Then, before the start of the 2015 season, Elliot Uzelac stepped in as head coach. The former NFL, college, and high school coach not only provided instruction on the field, he orchestrated solutions that gave them the proper equipment to play football, made sure they got enough to eat, arranged for academic assistance, and met other needs the players had. They went on to have a 5-4 record, made the playoffs, and won the first playoff game they had ever been in as a school.
Now, the next time you come across someone who is struggling, don’t assume that they are in that situation because they are making excuses. Instead, ask yourself, “Why are they struggling? Do they have a mentor or support person? Could I be that person?”
React with compassion rather than condemnation, and see how you could be the one who makes a difference in their lives.
Image courtesy of Katikati College
Melissa Cooley of The Job Quest, LLC unearths clients’ career examples to showcase the talents and results that make them must-hire candidates. Click here for more information on ways to partner with Melissa for your career success!
Melissa is a contributor to the book Nourish Your Career, has been quoted on Monster.com, The Daily Muse, Dice.com, and Quintessential Careers, has interviewed numerous times for The Voice of Job Seekers podcast, and has written guest posts for multiple job seeker blogs.