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1. A convenient—and often inaccurate—explanation for why something was unsuccessful or did not happen. Generally used to deflect attention away from the real reasons someone or something comes up short.

2. An unproductive misdirection; commonly avoided by the world’s most successful and accomplished businesspeople.

3. Something we all need to stop making. Now. For our own good.

A long time ago, I realized that when something didn’t work out just how I wanted, I needed to stop making excuses and start being honest with myself about what had happened.

It’s empowering. When you stop making excuses, you put yourself in full charge of your outcomes. It’s related to a concept called “locus of control,” which helps you recognize where you believe control rests: with you or with outside forces.

Most leaders and entrepreneurs have an internal locus of control, which moves them to take responsibility for their choices and actions. Rejecting the concept of making excuses strengthens that internal perspective even more.

In a recent episode of my Start With a Win podcast, my producer and I talked about the top 10 excuses we saw in business. They’re especially counterproductive in the sales or service industries, where visibility and face-to-face interactions are critical factors in success. In real estate, excuses can be absolutely lethal.

Here are a few of the common excuses we addressed on the podcast. If you hear yourself saying them, pause and take a moment to reconsider.

“I don’t have time. I’m too busy.”
What this really means is that you chose not to make the time. After all, time management is really choice management. We all have 1,440 minutes in a day—we just choose different ways to use them.

“No one wants to buy what I’m selling.”
The issue is usually not with what you’re selling, but with how you’re trying to sell it—or who you’re trying to sell it to. Take a step back and consider how a change in your delivery might solve the problem.

“I can’t do it.”
Sure, in some cases this might be true. We all have tasks that are beyond our skills or physical limitations. (For instance, I will never be able to dunk a basketball, no matter how much I might try.) But most of the time, “I can’t do it” really means “I won’t do it.” There’s a difference. And if something’s important and you just can’t do it, hire someone who can.

“I’m an introvert, and too private to use social media.”
If your role involves connecting with people, you need to ditch this excuse right away. Otherwise, you’re simply in the wrong business. Especially in real estate sales, you need to meet prospects where they are. And they’re on social media.

The first step in fixing problems is facing them head-on and being honest with yourself. An excuse is simply a crutch—when you don’t have a broken leg. Ditch the excuses, and you’ll quickly realize you’re able to walk—and sometimes even soar—without them.

Adam Contos is CEO of RE/MAX, LLC. For more information, please visit