How we use the mother of all excuses to self-destruct

I cannot even begin to count the number of times I have heard someone say- ‘But, he also does that’, in response to someone enquiring about their behaviour. It is a split second response to any kind of perceived personal affront or threat. It is something that is said without thinking whenever a comfort of numbers is needed to convince someone or ourselves that all is okay and nothing needs to change.

It is the number one excuse used by a majority of human beings, whether it is said loud or thought within the confines of our minds. It is the number one excuse that not only hinders our progress but, depending on who we meet, see or hear about, can pull us a hundred steps backward as well. It is the number one excuse, while ‘I am like this only’ comes a very close second.

If we are pulled up for being late, we point at others who arrive late as well and do nothing to improve our own punctuality. If we are caught for not following rules, we point to others who don’t follow the rules too and do whatever our rebellious hearts tells us to do. If we are called out for mediocrity, we comfort ourselves by the fact that to err is human, others make mistakes too and we don’t do anything to better ourselves.

There is always someone who is lesser qualified, lesser disciplined, lesser organized, lesser skilled than us and we have no qualms whatsoever about using them as our yardstick and continuing to live our lives in that state of mediocrity.

It has become our shield against well-meaning friends, our protector from guilt, our safety raft and we do not want to let go of its comfort for fear that effort needs to be made when we take out our rose-coloured glasses and have a look around.

For when we do step out of our self-created bubble, we find that we have been stuck in the same location for I do not know how many years with the fake crutch that everyone else is in the same place as us while those who desired success and greatness have moved far far ahead.

Our tendency to compare has been and will continue to be our downfall if we compare our lives, our achievements and our character to others less educated, less disciplined and less aware than us.

Instead, what if we compared ourselves to those who are or have been greater than us in their life and lifestyle?

Are we sleeping as little as Indra Nooyi? Are we reading as much as Oprah? Are we exercising as much as John Abraham? Are we as disciplined as Serena Williams? Are we helping the community as much as Bill Gates?

These are the people who we need to compare ourselves to, if we are so inclined, the people who are the best at what they do. Otherwise, we are simply selling ourselves short and telling ourselves that we are doing the best we can when we quite clearly and evidently are not.

If our unit of measurement is low, it goes without saying that our achievements will be lower and subsequently so will our life. If it is higher though, the story changes and we can go to any heights, or depths or horizons that we choose to measure our life against.

We can choose to have a greater vision of where we want our lives to be and regardless of where we are at the moment and who we are surrounded by, we can actually achieve it. But, for that, we need to stop saying, ‘But, he also does that…or ‘She also does that…’ or ‘They also do that…’, even if it means biting our own tongue the next time these words threaten to even cross our lips.

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