What is the difference between a reason and an excuse?

I once heard a story of a manager at a big company I worked with who always carried a little book with him with a list of excuses. He had over 200 excuses for not doing your job, not finishing your work or not making it on time.

Van Goghs Moleskine What is your excuse for not doing all you can?People would meet with him and explain why something hadn’t worked out and give him an excuse. He would smile, reach for his little book and say ‘Ah, excuse number 149″. He kept count of how many times each excuse was used and sometimes you could delight him (but only slightly) with an excuse he hadn’t heard yet.

Over the years certain excuses went out of fashion (bridge open, sick, traffic jam) and others became more popular (PC crashed, Internet was down, laptop battery empty).

Although the practice of keeping a list of excuses was amusing it also served a purpose. The purpose was to show people that there is a difference between a reason and an excuse. The reason why you might not have finished something is no excuse. If the work would have mattered to you, you would have found a solution.

So what is your excuse for not doing your work today, for not starting that company and for not doing all you can? And remember, whatever the reason is, it is not an excuse.

Deadlines are missed and you don’t always make it to that meeting on time. So what do you do then? What excuse does work?  I’ll tell you tomorrow…. Never apologize!