Bethany Hamilton wanted to be a professional surfer. She had a great excuse for letting herself off the hook. At the age of thirteen, Bethany was attacked by a fourteen-foot Tiger shark while surfing off Kauai’s North Shore. The attack left Bethany with a completely severed left arm and every reason to not achieve her goal.

Excuses, even viable excuses, are the reason so many individuals never achieve their potential. However, those who are the most successful are those who have learned to develop a no excuse mentality.

When a person gives an excuse, they reinforce—to themselves and to others—that they don’t have what it takes to reach their goal. They cannot be counted on when the chips are down. It is only when we refuse to offer an excuse that we open our future to growth and improvement.

At one time or another there is a very good reason, a viable excuse, for you to fail. However, if you give yourself permission to only succeed when the conditions are perfect, you will set yourself up for mediocrity. The next time you find yourself on the losing end of success, find the closest mirror, look yourself in the eye and say, “I’m sorry. There is no excuse. I will do better.” Say it to yourself. Say it out loud. Say it and mean it.

Learn to develop the no excuse attitude and watch how your life begins to change for the better. Anxiety, guilt, and stress will be replaced with pride, improvement, and increased success. People will start to respect you more—and you will begin to respect yourself more.

Avoid the trap of excusing sub-par performance, even when you have a good excuse. Learn to find a way to work harder, smarter, or differently so that you can be the one who always finds a way to get it done.

Be like Bethany—set your goals and accomplish them, no matter what.

To see Bethany’s inspiring story check out the video below. You can also check out the  film, Soul Surfer, based on Bethany’s story HERE.


Dr. Jason Selk LPC, NCC is the Director of Mental Training for the World Series-winning St. Louis Cardinals, and author of 10-Minute Toughness and the newly released book Executive Toughness, The Mental-Training Program to Increase Your Leadership Performance (McGraw-Hill, Nov 2011). For more on Jason you can also visit his WEBSITE.