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  • Writer's pictureDave Westlake

What's Your Excuse? Never Mind, No One Wants to Hear It.

Original Post: August 10, 2016

One of the first things I learned on Reception Day (R-Day) at West Point was that I had only 4 responses to any question I could ever be asked: 1. Yes, sir.  2. No, sir.  3. No excuse, sir. 4. Sir, I do not understand.  It’s somewhat amazing that I remember those when the rest of the day—as many who have “experienced” R-Day will tell you—is such a blur.  Regardless, much of the next year was spent (somewhat humorously) trying to answer demands like “Westlake, when are you going to pull your head out of your…..”  Whenever the “perfect” answer didn’t seem to fit (like, “Sir, when are YOU going to pull YOUR head out…”), the expected—and correct—response was always “No excuse, sir.”

As time went on I reluctantly realized the genius of this.  What West Point was instilling in us was a sense of responsibility and accountability.  No matter what, no matter the situation, no matter the outcome…if we were involved, we were responsible.  That is absolutely correct and, I fear, it is absolutely lost today.

In his book “The 10X Rule,” Grant Cardone shares a story about how he was left utterly unproductive when a rolling brownout hit his neighborhood in California and left him without power for several hours.  None of his computers worked.  Nor did his refrigerator, microwave, lights, or any of the other things that we all take for granted in our day-to-day lives.  He noted that while the “default” response would be to get angry at the state for not maintaining a functioning electrical grid, he realized that it was actually his fault for this break in productivity because he wasn't prepared with a backup generator.  Bam!  That is classic “no excuse, sir.”

Life (and business!) is like that.  Sometimes forces will act on us that we’re not prepared for and will completely catch us off guard.  Those are tough breaks, but if we take responsibility for not allowing them to hurt us again in the future, those tough breaks become valuable lessons.  Similarly, there are forces that act on us that we should always be prepared for and never catch us off guard.  Things like being armed with the status of our client’s accounts or always knowing which component of our business is costing (or making) the most money or even knowing which end user is about to have their workday disrupted by a device failure.  When those things happen on your watch (and, mind you, it’s ALWAYS “your watch”), the only acceptable response…you guessed it…”no excuse, sir.”  

Let us show you how to mitigate these threats and always be prepared to move business forward.  Operational issues are like rolling brownouts in times of peak energy demand—you know they’re coming, but you don’t know when.  You can chance it and let them disrupt you over and over again, or you can have Atlas running alongside all your systems tools to keep you powered up through the outage (figuratively speaking, of course).  Remember, your clients…your employees…your board of directors…your investors—they won’t accept excuses.  What’s your plan?  Drop us a line today to get started.

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