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A wise man once wrote, “I personally struggle with much of what I have shared (in this book). But the struggle is worthwhile and fulfilling. It gives meaning to my life and enables me to love, to serve – and to try again. The challenge to live with integrity is always in front of me.” (My italics.)

We all make mistakes. I recently made a monumental one. But the beauty of mistakes made by people with integrity is that (a) the pain is lessened because you know you can and will do better and (b) those who know you, know (a).

And we all make excuses. I have a philosophy on excuses. It goes like this – when you say why something happened and you acknowledge your part in it, that’s a ‘reason’. When you fail to acknowledge your own part in an error, you’re making an ‘excuse’.

The difference is subtle and relates to your integrity. You know when you are making one or the other. If you (normally) have a high level of personal integrity and you make an excuse – you know you’re doing so.

As alluded to by the writer of the opening quote, every moment is an opportunity to start again. Time, being linear, will not allow us to relive and repair the error before or as it is being made. But it does mean we can make a better decision, next time. Another of my favoured authors describes how trying to change the past is like firing an arrow into concrete – it bounces off and nothing changes. But firing an arrow into the future is like launching it into fresh earth – it can stick and be a guide. (I’m torturing the metaphor a bit, but you know what I’m getting at.)

I write on personal development and time management. Occasionally I will use current affairs to illustrate my points but the main focus is on counselling readers on a philosophy that might just improve their lives. Like them, I struggle with living 100% in keeping with the words I put on paper (except in time management, I’ve pretty much got that down pat). I occasionally make excuses for those times I fail to walk my talk as well as I should.

But I’m in good company. The author of the opening quote is Stephen R. Covey who, as you surely know by now, wrote the greatest book on principle-centred living ever written, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, which is NOT a business book, even though it’s usually found in that section of a bookstore. (Still, after 30 years in print.)

If HE found it hard, I’ll live with my inability to do the same. But that’s not an excuse. It’s an acceptance of my imperfections. I’m still going to try hard. And then try again. And again. For as long as it takes and for as long as I live.

And if, on the day before I leave this mortal existence, it suddenly all gels – it would have been worth the effort.

(Blimey. I even impressed me with that line.)

Try hard. Keep trying. Do your best, accept reasons and challenge your own excuses.

The people around you – family and friends – will recognise this when you occasionally err. And that, my friends, is amazingly consoling when you fail.