Both in my Roll Models talks and here on my blog, I have discussed the negative impact that making excuses can have on your life and happiness. By allowing ourselves to make excuses we limit both the great things we can achieve and the amazing, new experiences we can have throughout our lives. This is because excuses stop you from making progress by tricking your mind into thinking that you are unable to do something. This would not be such a huge problem for people save for the fact that there are actually some activities that you are not able to do, so it is often very udifficult to know whether you are making an excuse or actually are unable to do something. For example, there are days where, physically, my body has to lay down when I say, “I cannot write anymore tonight. I need to rest.” There are other days however, where I will say that same phrase, but in all honesty I could easily soldier on and keep writing. That’s why, in order to effectively manage and remove excuses from our lives, we need a method to determine the excuses from the real reasons. Thanks to the wisdom of my father as a coach and parent, I have a nearly foolproof way to do just that.
My father has been raising children and coaching high school athletics for the last 40 years or so. He has produced three successful children and coached nearly every sport there is, and during this time he has become a master at motivating teenagers and in dealing with the adolescent mind in general (which any parent knows is not easy). One of things my dad had to be able to manage, whether it was at home with my siblings and I or on the practice field with his players, was excuses. He would constantly hear, “Coach, I can’t run anymore. I am too tired.” and “Dad, I have too much homework to do the dishes tonight.” but he knew that teens tend to make excuses to get out of work, so he came up with a simple, quick, and effective method to tell excuses from truth. This powerful, mental jujitsu he developed, and thusly passed on to me, is something that I have called, “The $1,000 Question.”
Here is how “The $1,000 Question” works. Imagine that you are at the gym exercising (“I can’t run anymore. My legs are on fire.”), getting home after a long day at work (“I don’t have energy to mow the lawn/clean the house/walk the dog.”), or in some other situation where you would potentially make excuses to not do something. Now, as soon as this possible excuse enters your mind, imagine that someone comes up to and says, “If you run 10 more minutes/mow the lawn/clean the house/walk the dog I will pay you $1,000.” If you would push through your pain and fatigue for the money, then chances are you are making an excuse. If for even $1,000 you would not proceed, then you probably have a legitimate reason to stop. If it’s an excuse, you then cowboy up and make yourself do the activity, even though you don’t want to (sorry, you won’t actually get $1,000).
It is amazing how easy and effective this technique is in removing excuses from your life. It works so well because it is extremely simple and to the point. We would not risk bodily harm to ourselves or major damage to our lives for $1,000 (at least, I hope not), so if a justification to not do something is legitimate, this method will still cause us to not do it. Most of us would be willing to experience some minor pain or discomfort for a grand however (you can always adjust the amount if you are much wealthier than me), so if we are just being wimpy or lazy, we will happily take the cash and hop back on that treadmill/lawnmower/vacuum cleaner/dog leash. It is so powerful because it plays on our egos. No one wants to be the greedy, money crazed person who would do something for $1,000, but will give in to excuses when no money is involved. Avoiding this image of yourself is what makes you actually follow through and perform the activity once you have determined that you have made an excuse.
We all make excuses every day, and there is nothing wrong with this so long as they are kept to a minimum. By limiting the number of excuses we allow in our lives, we make a huge impact on our ability to achieve the great things we are capable of, as well as keeping ourselves open to as many exciting and new life experiences as possible. “The $1,000 Question” gives you a method to efficiently remove excuses from your life in a quick, easy way. As you go through your day, any time you think of a reason not to do something, take a moment to ask yourself “The $1,000 Question.” You will be amazed at how well this technique works in almost any situation. In a fairly short amount of time, if you apply this technique often enough you will be pleasantly surprised to find that you no longer need to use it much, because your mind no longer generates as many excuses. This will inevitably help you to experience and achieve incredible things.