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When it comes to outcomes, a natural tendency most of us share, is to judge others by their results and ourselves by our intentions.

When the report you are waiting on is incorrect, it’s easy to be frustrated with the individual that worked on it. When the report you worked on is incorrect, it’s comforting to know you did your best.

We all have stories we tell to explain our shortcomings. In fact, some of them we tell so often, we actually think people believe what we are saying and more importantly, we convince ourselves that our stories make it okay!

While we tell stories, some very convincingly, the reality is, in the business world, it is the results that count. Your stories may get you by. They won’t get you promoted or where you want to go.

I want to share a few examples of stories, if used, are likely hindering your progress. I will share how these stories translate to the decision makers that can impact your next raise, promotion, or job opportunity. I will also share some alternatives that will empower you and help you stand out to those same decision makers.

When a deadline is missed, or a project is not completed as expected some of the most common stories include: “I ran out of time.” “Something came up.” “I got called away.” Each one of these stories (or similar ones) are likely to be true. However, each one translates to say, “I prioritized something else.” To stand out, to overcome the situation, it would be better to take full responsibility and say something like, “I apologize. This is my fault. I allowed myself to be distracted. I assure you, moving forward, your tasks will receive my full attention.”

When invited to do something or take on an additional assignment, a common story is “I just don’t have time.” The reality is we all have the same 24 hours in a day, 60 minutes in an hour, and 60 seconds in a minute. What differs isn’t the time, it’s our priorities. Hearing you don’t have time, others are hearing “You or your project isn’t important enough to me.” Whether it’s an invitation to dinner, a special assignment, or a part-time job, it’s important to remember, others with the same time that you have are doing these things. Instead of saying you don’t have time, you come across as focused and in control when you change your story to say things like, “I’m sorry. I have narrowed my focus to accomplish my current goals. I will not be able to accept at this time.”

When you are late, some common stories include “I was stuck in traffic.” “I’m always running late.” Regardless of the story for your tardiness, it translates to “I don’t value your time.” When I was younger, I was constantly late. I would spend every possible minute working until I had to leave for meetings. My chances of arriving on time were limited to no traffic delays and finding the closest parking spot to the door. Winning the lottery has better odds. It’s better to leave early and arrive early. I make use of the early arrival time to respond to emails or catch up on reading. I use the time to handle anything that I can transport with me to do away from my desk. As for better responses when you are late, again, take full responsibility. It’s better to say, “I’m sorry I’m late. I should’ve left earlier. I did not take into account for traffic.” This allows you to acknowledge you can control your environment and that you will plan accordingly moving forward. You no longer are a victim to your surroundings.

When you are unable to meet your customers’ needs or expectations, stories we often tell include “I’m sorry, we’re swamped at the moment.” “I’m sorry, we’re short-handed today.” “We’ll have to reschedule. I can’t make it today.” Again, all these stories are likely true. They all tell a customer “I can’t guarantee we’ll be able to meet your needs or expectations in the future.” “We’re at our capacity.” “We don’t have enough staff.” “Everything will have to be perfect for us to meet what we’re promising you.” In each of these situations, in addition to your story, you should include the solution that will prevent these issues from happening in the future. For example, “Please bear with us. We’re in the process of hiring additional staff to ensure these delays don’t happen in the future.”

Another scenario where we hear many stories is when we are not performing at our best. “I’m sorry. I’m going through a divorce.” “I just lost my grandmother.” “My pet is lost.” “I’m worried about my sick child.” All of these are legitimate reasons not to be at work. Being at work and using them as stories for underperforming are not acceptable. These stories translate to say, “I let my emotions run me instead of me running my emotions.” “I’m expecting full compensation for my services even though I’m not 100%.” There are no good responses for these stories other than you should stay home and grieve or care for those in need until you can give what is expected of you.

I’m sure you can think of other stories. Each story should be told with you taking 100% responsibility and sharing how it will be prevented moving forward. You will feel empowered as well as positioned for future opportunities.

Remember, there is greatness within you. You must choose greatness. It won’t develop on its own. I believe in you!

“It’s only taking 100% responsibility will you ever feel empowered.”

Take Action Today!

If you would like assistance with changing your stories, I can help you. We can meet by phone, on Zoom, or in a place you deem safe with social distancing. Whether you choose me or someone else, a coach will expedite your results.

If you found value in this article, please like and share. You never know who else in your network may find it valuable. Thank you!

I appreciate you. I know your time is limited and I hope you receive value in reading my posts. 

I also invite you to connect with me. You can connect with me on LinkedIn, by email at  [email protected]  or through my website at Thank you!  

I always look forward to your thoughts and replies.

Published by Bryan M. Balch, Results Coach

Helping Individuals and Businesses Achieve Desired Results

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