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Obstacle or Excuse?

Coach Spiros Giannatos by Spiros Giannatos
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Yesterday, a client of mine kept on saying how difficult it is to find time for him amidst work, chores and kids. His goal is to run 2 times per week, so he becomes fitter.

But, every single time that I ask him how the run was, he replies that he couldn't go. He says various reasons, which seem valid. For example, "I was tired after work", "I had to look after the kids", "I had to finish a task from work", "I had to...", "I had to...".

Particularly yesterday, he replied, "I was hungry and after eating I got heavy, so I couldn't run".

Then I asked him "Is being hungry an obstacle or an excuse?", to which he replied, "What is the difference?".

"Well", I told him, "an obstacle is something that prevents you from doing something - if you had a broken leg, that would be an obstacle. However, an excuse is something that you tell to yourself to justify why you are not taking the necessary actions".

After a minute of silence, he timidly said with worry.

"Yeah, you are right. It is an excuse. And I just realised that I find excuses for all sort of stuff during my day! That is why I keep on procrastinating. But what can we do now?".

"If it was an obstacle", I said, "we could brainstorm together and find ways to overcome it. If it is actually an excuse, you ultimately have 2 options."

"You can forget all about your goal. Perhaps, you don't really want to do it after all".

"Or, you can transform your excuse to an obstacle and find ways to overcome it."

Another minute in silence passed.

The next time my client spoke, it was with enthusiasm, as he had clarity around this thinking pattern, the pattern that he had just noticed for the first time.

To finish the story, my client committed to go running immediately after our session, although the busy day had drained him.

And this morning, guess what! He called me to tell me that he actually did run last evening! For 40 minutes!

And sometimes, we need someone else to provoke the story we play inside our heads because we are so used to the story that we don't see it clearly or objectively.

What is this that you find excuses for?


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