You’re Excused.


Saturday, 3:53pm
Reno, NV
“Well, excuuuuuuuse me.” (Steve Martin)


One of the very bright dividing lines separating happy, successful folks from the unhappy wannabe’s…

… is the role of excuses in moving through life.

Dudes and dudettes who get stuff done stare down obstacles and find ways through or around them…

… no matter how long it takes, or how many times they fail at it.

They’re the minority.

Much more common is the notion that having a good excuse lets you off the hook for getting something done.

Our bollocked-up school system encourages this — oh, your dog ate your homework? Okay, you can have an extra day.

And it just gets worse in adult life — oh, sorry I T-boned your car there, but I just broke up with my girlfriend and was re-reading her last text to me… sniff…

At some point, most civilians will be on their death-bed, looking back on their failures and crushed dreams, and have to find cold comfort in the idea that at least they had good excuses.

They tried, sort of, and had their feelings hurt or their efforts rebuffed, and what can you do?

Life’s hard, right?

Okay, fine. Cuddle up with your excuses.

You might garner a bit of sympathy from some folks, but you’ll just continue to be disregarded by anyone feasting on life and getting stuff done.

Start with being late. If you think it’s okay, as long as you have a plausible excuse (the traffic lights were absolutely conspiring against you, or gosh, clocks are just hard to understand, you know?)…

… then move to the back of the line right now.

You may actually HAVE a good excuse this time…

… but if being late is “who you are” (and yes, you are judged harshly and continually in the biz world on this stuff)…

… then consider WHY it’s a habit.

Look deep. It may be passive-aggressive behavior you picked up as a kid. It may be a symptom of happiness-corrupting disorganization (which no potential client wants any part of). It may be undiagnosed ADD, or even the first ripples of real cognitive disorder.

But usually, it’s just a habit. You keep getting away with it — or you THINK you’re getting away with it (and really, the people around you just stop relying on you, and consider you a liability).

The consequences seem mild — maybe somebody gets pissed off once in a while, or you miss a flight. Whatever. Life is hard, right?

Get off my case.

The problem, of course, is that if you want to play in the level above you — in biz, romance, sports or just generally effective living — you are going to pay dearly for your bad habits.

Top clients won’t put up with sloppy non-professional behavior. Self-respecting potential romantic partners will avoid committing to you.

And a whole bunch of cool life experiences will vanish…

… all because you think having a good excuse absolves you from the responsibility to be where you said you’d be, when you said you’d be there… prepared to do what you said you’d do.

Getting away with something is NOT the same as “succeeding”.

Highly effective people, who get shit done and succeed at life, rarely allow excuse-artists into their lives in any meaningful way.

Buy a fucking watch. Add twenty minutes to your estimation of how long you’ll need to get somewhere (or more)…

… and if you’re early, find a spot to kick back and check email or Facebook or just relax. Or read a book. There’s no such thing as “wasting time by being early”. Be prepared for it.

And it’s worth repeating: Yes, the people operating in the level above you ARE judging you by these small behaviors.

Maybe other folks in your world are just character actors, whose time isn’t worth much. (That’s the way stone-cold sociopaths think, you know.)

However, the successful crowd you want to be dealing with will not put up with that bullshit.

Okay, you better get moving. You’re gonna be late…

Stay frosty,


P.S. The foundation of living effectively…

… is really just a bunch of simple insights, rules and strategies that are easy to adopt…

… once you figure out what they ARE.

Simple shortcut to finding them out, right here.

P.P.S. Yeah, I drew the cartoon at the top. College days, when I was the staff doodler at The Cal Aggie Times in Davis.

This was my idea of wickedly insightful humor.

I dunno… what do you think?

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"11 Really Stupid Blunders You're Making With Your Biz & Career Right Now."

  • Lori Abraham says:


    Maybe you should consider creating a dollar value for the free therapy you provide with your comments/rants.

    If I’m bummed you make me laugh
    If I’m thinking of being lazy, cause I’m not it’s a reminder to produce, finish, get it done.

    Thanks for the regular doses of seriously good stuff.

    • John Carlton says:

      I’ve got books to buy, Lori.

      And more coming.

      Make sure you own everything along the right-hand column here… then you’ll have my therapeutic stylings nearby always…

  • Wayne says:

    Timely John, I’m just writing a similar article for my own flock on the same subject. I’m delving into the difference between excuses and reasons. People will come up with a million and one excuses to do nothing instead of one good reason they must do something. I now want to just cut and paste your article instead, (cartoon included)!

  • Ken c says:

    Good points John… winners do, everyone else just talks. Agree re being late; I ended up breaking up with a smoking-hot model girlfriend because she was always 20 minutes+ late. Maybe I took it too far lol.

    Stealing my time is a surefire way to get me out of your life; biz colleagues included. I can\’t buy more time; so I\’m always early — to airports, doctor visits; and I call colleagues on the phone within 30 seconds of scheduled call start times. Never started a webinar late, of thousands. Never missed an article deadline, ever. No excuses, no bs.

    Your point is well taken; we all Do notice if someone\’s late, and it influences perception of trustworthiness. Professionalism is in the details. It\’s not that hard, if you value other people\’s time.

    to crushing it,


  • Another great blog post, John. Thanks, as always!

  • Carl Picot says:


    And all the people who don’t get anywhere think the ones who do are somehow advanteged by rich parents, incredible luck or have some other advantage that they don’t have.

    Like hard work and good strategy don’t come in to it anywhere ?

    Nice post and great product is Kickass Secrets 🙂

    Even if I’m not yet one of the of the World’s Smartest, Happiest & Wealthiest Marketers!

    I will be though John… If I keep injesting bits of your wisdom piece by peice 🙂

    Cheers Carl

  • Fan of Doug B says:

    I love the cartoon and the message of the post. It’s a given I love the writing. Thanks! 🙂

    (Just between you and me, I bet not one of those excuse makers ever read more than the first 8 words of the book,
    “All the Real Reasons You Can’t Have Success.”)

    Cheers The Orphan Melchizedek

    • John Carlton says:

      I wish I had all the cartoons I did, during my years as staff cartoonist for my high school and college newspapers. I almost followed it as a career. I would’ve starved, I’m sure.

  • Jimbo Curley says:

    Insightful stuff here John. Nailed it.

    As you rise in the biz world the luxury of using even an
    occasional excuse evaporates. Too many folks depending
    on you.

    (“What’s that? You didn’t get your paycheck? Sorry, my
    uncle was REAL sick you see, and…” blah, blah, blah.)

    Your words are very applicable to anyone serious about
    stepping up their game to the next level.

    Thanks John…

    Jimbo Curley

    • John Carlton says:

      Yeah, Jimmy… as you know oh so well, meeting a payroll is one of the scariest things that happens to entrepreneurs once they start growing. Multiple families depending on you to meet your obligations, without excuse or delay.

      It’s equal to becoming a parent. Babies aren’t forgiving when hungry. Nobody is.

      What’s interesting to me (being a guy who had to learn about responsibility the hard way, after a youth spent as a slacker) is the clear dividing line being being responsible, and being irresponsible. As a slacker hippie, we mocked “the straights” who kept to schedules and got upset when people were late…

      … and now, as a biz owner (multiple times), I see that dividing line is as stark as ever.

      Teaching young people the rigors of being responsible is an act of kindness, not cruelty. “Growing up” doesn’t have to mean becoming an un-fun person, but it DOES mean becoming an excuse-free person who can be relied on…

  • Michael says:

    Thank you for a great reminder, John. Being punctual is very important to me, especially with clients. I also do my best to drill this lesson into my kids, “Attention to detail!”

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