“Excuses are merely nails used to build a house of failure.”
- American Proverb
“So, the train was late, today,” I playfully teased the young-man who was almost fifteen minutes late for the session.
“Train was not late, sir,” the tall young-man corrected me, “I was late!”
“Wow! That’s something I loved,” I explained to the class, “That’s exactly what I meant by ‘Owning up… taking responsibility for one’s actions… It is the first leg of the stool called ‘Self-confidence.”
The boy wasn’t giving me any justifications for his late-entry. He wasn’t feeling anxious, guilty or scared… For, he had owned up his action… He knew, that if he wanted to be in time, he would … Trains were running in time… The weather was absolutely normal - no thunderstorm or hailstorm… There weren’t any bandh or riots… At home, everything was normal… the milkman, delivered milk in time, the paperwala dropped paper in time… the maid came to make rotis in time… mom had set breakfast in time… and, the Central Railways operated all their Mumbai locals perfectely in time…
Then, why was our young-man late?
I was there in his college to help him and his fellow-students how to build up self-confidence and improve their communication skills in life… “Your self-confidence is like a stool with three legs,” I was explaining to them, “Take responsibility for your success… Feel worthwhile… Feel appreciated.” I had learnt this lesson, long ago, in a little book called, ‘Changes’. “Till you do not take charge of your own success… till you do not stop blaming, justifying and giving excuses, you will not harness enough self-confidence in you… The blamers are the losers. Those who take responsibility for their success are the winners.”
And, right in the midst of this explanation during the morning session, the young-man appeared – fifteen minutes late – to testify:
“Hello, the train was not late… I was. Yes, I woke up late… Because I went to bed late last night… I did not give utmost priority to be here in time… I took it a bit casually… I could have taken an earlier train… I could have come early and spend some time in the college library… If I wanted it, I would have had it.”
I took this episode and said to the class, “This young-man has taught us, that when we own up our mistakes, and flaws, we invariably overcome them… We change for the better… we become self-confident in life.”
Later, during the session, when the young-man was on stage to speak, I prodded him to tell us as to what made him say, “Sir, the train was not late, I was late.”
The young-man recounted the story… “One day, when I came late and started blaming the train for my late-coming, our ma’am opened my eyes: “Never, ever blame the train and the Central Railway for your flaws… If you wanted to be here in time, you could have done everything required to be done to achieve that objective… Say train was not late… I was late.”
When you own up, excuses go… When excuses go, self-confidence comes!
Pic.: Azriel D'Souza