Excuses are Irrelevant

July 20, 2009

“… or to use the technical term, bullshit” (p.164).  Another gem from Tina Selig’s What I Wish I Knew When I Was 20.  You can find some of my other articles that reference Tina’s work here and here. 

I just returned from 3 weeks in Spain on Saturday, and during my 11.5 hour flight from Munich to San Francisco I re-read all three of the books I am going to use in my Entrepreneurial Psychology class starting tonight.  The best of the three books by far is Tina’s.  This excellent passage on excuses Tina credits to her colleague at Stanford, Bernie Roth:

There’s a big difference between trying to do something and actually doing it.  We often say we’re trying to do something – losing weight, getting more exercise, finding a job.  But the truth is we’re either doing it or not doing it.  Trying to do something is a cop-out.  You have to focus your intention to make something happen by giving at least 100 percent commitment.  Anything less and you’re the only one to blame for failing to reach your goals. (p. 164)

I work for the State of Nevada as a management professor at the University of Nevada, Reno.  Starting July 1, 2010, the state of Nevada will deduct 4.6 percent per month from my salary as part of a mandatory furlough to address our huge budget deficit.  I never anticipated that I would see something like this in my academic career.

And that pisses me off!

I let myself become complacent.  I expected my external environment to remain stable and predictable and as a result I never developed contingency plans.  Like the State of Nevada, I only planned for more of the booming growth we had become so accustomed to.

Never again.

This website, which I launched a few days before I left for Spain last month, is part of my effort to re-invent and re-brand myself.  I have no idea where it is going to take me, but I intend to meet a lot of new people and explore a lot of new possibilities in the months and years to come.

The class I’m starting tonight is also part of that effort; I’ve never before taught a class in Entrepreneurial Psychology.  But I want to learn more about entrepreneurship so I can try my hand at it, and I want to reposition myself as someone that can teach and do research on entrepreneurship just in case I want to try the academic job market again in a few years. 

Even though the State of Nevada is going to take 4.6 percent of my pay next year, I am planning for new growth personally, professionally, and financially during that time. 

No bullshit.

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  1. Sean says:

    What are the other two books?

  2. the other two books I am using in my class are Me 2.0 by Dan Schawbel and Escape from Cubicle Nation by Pam Slim. Both of those books are also good and serve the purpose I was looking for. Thanks for the question! Bret

  3. It looks like necessity is the mother of invention yet again, just like when you were a Staff Sergeant in the Air Force with a Master’s degree. You knew then you needed to do something else with your life and you have…now you are at that juncture again. Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Do what you are afraid to do.” That was my case when I came back from Vietnam and was a mess. I had to take a public speaking class in college and my prof said that after what I had seen and done, this was nothing. He forced me to grab that inner courage that set me free. I think, based on what I’ve learned so far from your websites, that this is what you have done all your life. You will find another path and it’s the exciting part of your journey. Being pissed is good. I am excited for you…Peace: Alain

  4. Linda says:

    Bret – Thanks for a great post, and the book recommendations. In my work I have seen so many people get to be 40 or 50 and they haven’t put any energy into new learning or skills for the future, when clearly they will need to be in the workforce for some years to come. It is so important to self-renew, to not to become complacent, and to learn something new or try something new every few years. I will soon run a workshop for people seeking career re-invention and am hoping it attracts the mid-career folks.

    Your Entrepreneurial Psychology class sounds awesome; maybe you will offer it in web format one day for those of us outside Nevada! Keep up the great posts.

  5. Alain: Love the Emerson quote – thanks for sharing. Your post makes me realize that I am actually re-learning something I have already been through. Complacency is intoxicating.

    Linda: I personally hope to work until I die. I think staying active is a key ingredient to leading a long life. Your suggestion on the web format is interesting. This class would definately work in that platform. Let’s hope I just survive this course first 🙂

    Thanks for taking the time to visit and share your thoughts. I appreciate your perspectives.


  6. Matt Gardner says:

    I remember a quote from high school football.

    potential is worthless… its performance that counts!

    it goes without saying that the best things we accomplish in life are the things we planned and executed, not the things we dreamed of.

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    Welcome, Matt. Potential might be worthless, but effort is very valuable. It’s how we learn how to perform. Thanks! Bret

  7. Kurt Spencer says:

    Ha! My best HS teacher once said “Noone can take credit for what they have, only what they decide to do with it,” Speaking about potential.

    That always stuck with me, they must give out a handbook of good quotes for the teachers.

    Bret, I respect your position. A compensation cut under any name is still a pay cut, so what are your options? Piss and moan and bitch about something outside of your control, or take the opportunity to reposition yourself?

    doesn’t sounds like a question to me at all.


    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    Welcome, Kurt. No good options with a pay cut from where I am sitting. I don’t want to make the best of it. I want to make something different and hope to avoid it altogether in the future. Thanks! Bret

  8. I really enjoyed reading this post Bret. I talk a lot about creating an invented future and how important it is to never give up on the life you most desire. We’re never too young and we’re never too old. Keep up the great work.

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    Welcome, Gary. Great words of wisdom. thanks for sharing them here. Bret