Your Competition Loves Your Excuses

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I have a very good excuse for not going to the gym yesterday: I’m sick. Okay, “sick” might be an overstatement. I have a cold. But it was enough to keep me from going to the gym. It was also enough to keep me from doing much around the office—I mean, who really wants to sit down and work when your head is stuffy and you can’t stop coughing? So I didn’t get an awful lot done yesterday.

And then I remembered the Beatles’ first album.

The Beatles recorded their first album, called Please Please Me (after their hit single) on February 11, 1963. That’s it. One day. Twelve and half hours, virtually non-stop (the crew took a lunch break, but the four Beatles stayed in the studio, working on the songs). Now, February in England can be pretty miserable, and the Beatles had just spend the previous few weeks touring up and down the country in a beat up old van with a broken heater. None of them were feeling particularly good this day; John Lennon in particular had a bad cold. His head was stuffy, he was coughing, and he had a sore throat. Pretty much the same conditions that kept me away from the gym. But just before 10:30pm, after nearly twelve and a half hours of work, the Beatles had one last song to record. So John Lennon, dripping with sweat, ripped his shirt off and laid down a track that’s been called “the single greatest rock and roll vocal performance of all time.” You’ve probably heard it. It’s called Twist and Shout. And when you hear that song, you’re hearing the first take. They tried to record a second take, but John’s voice was gone. He’d given it everything he had.

Confronted with a cold, John Lennon didn’t make excuses; he made history. He didn’t stay at home, drink hot tea, and pamper himself. He went to work.

And, by the way, the next day the Beatles did two live shows in two different cities.

Now, I’m not saying you shouldn’t take care of yourself, and I’m not saying you should put others at risk by going to work with the flu. What I’m saying is that the world doesn’t put itself on hold just because you, for whatever reason, don’t feel like working.

A former Olympic athlete once told me, “To be a serious competitor, there are only two times you have to work out: when you feel like it, and when you don’t.”

Look, if you’re not feeling well and don’t want to work, that’s your call. The world will understand. It just won’t wait for you, and neither will the competition.

I think I’ll go to the gym today.


About the Author:

29-time Emmy Award winner and Hall of Fame keynote speaker Bill Stainton, CSP is an expert on Innovation, Creativity, and Breakthrough Thinking. He helps leaders and their teams come up with innovative solutions — on demand — to their most challenging problems.
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