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Home > Audio, Podcast > Archive: 3 Excuses for doing nothing – August 5, 2005

Archive: 3 Excuses for doing nothing – August 5, 2005

September 3rd, 2008

(This podcast is pulled “from the archives” and presented here as a service to more recent listeners — Douglas)

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In a high-tech career, there are often many reasons why work doesn’t get done — money, politics, understaffing, ignorance and more. The more shocking reality, though, is the myriad of excuses we give ourselves for our lack of productivity. When morale is low, mergers are in the air or you are going through your fifth manager in as many months, you might find yourself justifying your lack of energy in many ways. Your company isn’t the only one suffering, though. Your excuses will come back to haunt you when the time comes for the ax to fall. The following 3 excuses are recited again and again at most companies and they result in much more lost productivity than any of the other issues combined.

It’s not my job

This is, by far, the most insidious excuse in your career. It is easy to invoke this excuse yet very difficult to refute it. We can all fall back on a strict definition of our job description when it serves our purposes, but it hurts us more than it helps. Following only the letter of your job description, but not the spirit, clearly defines your reputation among your managers and your co-workers. You are not a team player. You won’t help out in an pinch and you will very likely be the first one at the unemployment office when the layoffs come.

While you certainly don’t want to get subsumed doing work outside your usual area, neither do you want to avoid helping out when necessary. It is good to stretch yourself and explore new areas. You never know when an outside project will open up an entirely new avenue for your career. You might find that you enjoy this new work more than your current job or that you have an undiscovered aptitude in this new area. So, “making it your job” can be the best way to expand your career.

It’s Not My Fault

Regardless of how you are treated by anyone, whether a vendor, manager or another entire department, blaming your troubles on someone else is a road to nowhere. I can tell you from experience that no one cares who is to blame when something goes wrong. The only thing your customer or your manager wants to know is, “what are you going to do about it?” Even more, “what are you going to do about….NOW!”

We have all been placed in bad positions by those around us, but it is more important for you to present solutions at a time like this, not blame. If the vendor is late delivering their product, what other products can you use? If the other department is slow delivering the numbers you need for a report, where else can you find them or who else can you get involved at a higher level? If your manager is standing in the way of your productivity or advancement, how can you go over, under or around them? Solutions are always better received than passing the blame.

There’s no money in the budget

In today’s world of open source software, there are few reasons to invoke this excuse. If you can’t afford a piece of software, maybe you can find a free or inexpensive replacement. You might even be able to build it yourself, if necessary. Getting around budgetary problems is a great way of improving your high-tech career. If you consistently get work done, even when others are complaining about the lack of budget, your career position is sure to improve.

Just like with the other excuses, challenges such as this can lead you to new, innovative solutions and experiences. As workers, we discover the most when we are trying to circumvent a particular problem. It forces us to search out new products, new methods and new concepts. It only makes sense to look beyond the concepts that have failed us in the past.

There are many more excuses in the business world, but I find these 3 to be the most pernicious. Many companies and their departments have been brought to an utter standstill by their invocation. If you want to keep both your company and career moving forward, you would do well to avoid them all costs.

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