Illegitimate excuses: Are you sabotaging yourself because of fear of failure?
On one of my other sites (There are too many. Seriously. I could be on hoarders.) I posted about a contest that was being run by a major corporation with some exciting prizes as only a major corporation can offer.
Several readers commented on how they were going to enter and then one commented that she wasn’t. And, even though no one asked, she decided to elaborate on why.
She wouldn’t enter this contest even though she wanted to because she might win and the day they were giving out prizes was a few weeks after her vacation and, even though that day was on a weekend, she’d want that Friday off too and what if her boss wouldn’t give her more time off? So she just wasn’t going to enter at all, just in case.
This post gave me some kind of chain of thought whiplash. Even at a conservative estimate, hundreds of people would be entering this contest, more likely millions based on the size of the company hosting. The chances of her winning were incredibly small. Sure, you could make a case for why it wasn’t worth it to enter because the odds were against you. But, instead, she was worried about what would happen if she won and fretting about how winning might inconvenience her. Even if she did win, I’m sure there would be some kind of provision to mail her the prize if she couldn’t attend. Not to mention that she could just go for the weekend. Or that her boss might be perfectly willing to give her the time for such a once in a lifetime type event. There are so many uncertain factors in this scenario that she was assuming as truth and building a whole thing up around this shaky foundation.
I’ve seen this kind of thinking before and at first it seems like arrogance but I think it’s actually the exact opposite. That this person is so convinced that she’ll lose that she’s made up an elaborate excuse for why she shouldn’t even bother to enter. It’s a kind of self-sabotage.
I bring this up because I think some of us do this in our own lives without realizing it. We don’t take that risk, big or small, but instead of just admitting to ourselves that we’re scared or afraid of failure, we make up a complicated justification.
I know Nike would have us believe that there are No Excuses (or maybe I’m mixing them up with the No Fear people) and, in truth, there are really very few excuses that aren’t just us handicapping ourselves and our future potential. The longer an excuse is, in my experience, the more that indicates it’s complete BS. Listen to yourself when you start turning down an opportunity. Do you have a legitimate excuse or are you just trying to back out rather than face potential failure? Are you worrying about things too far in the future or dependent on hundreds of other random variables down the road? Cross those bridges when you come to them.
If you find yourself doing this, remind yourself of the same thing I would tell the lady who commented on that post: You may win. You may not. Just enter.
Have you ever known someone who sabotaged themselves this way? Or do you find yourself doing this to yourself?