Last night while flipping through the channels, I came across a PBS special by Dr. Wayne Dyer called Excuses Begone! In some circles Dr. Wayne Dyer is a big name, but I only seem to catch him during the annual PBS telethons.
Some of his references make the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. There’s a warning that goes off in my mind saying beware of the undertones of his message.
Taking a cue from yesterday’s post, Michael Holmes might remind us that “If it’s God’s truth then its relevance can extend beyond God’s people.” Please do not take this post as an endorsement of the belief systems of those I will be quoting, but I think there are some interesting ideas that they are proposing that merit further thought.
Shining light on these ideas may make you look around at your business, your employees, and yourself to see if they are destroying your small business.
What is a Meme Anyway?
Richard Dawkins is credited with coining the word “meme” in his 1976 book The Selfish Gene to explain how culture and ideas spread using evolutionary processes.
Wikipedia defines a meme as …
a postulated unit of cultural ideas, symbols or practices, which can be transmitted from one mind to another through speech, gestures, rituals or other imitable phenomena.
In his book, Virus of the Mind: The New Science of the Meme, Richard Brodie carries this concept further comparing memes to viruses.
The 18 Most Common Excuses We Use
This is where Dr. Wayne Dyer picks up the topic of the meme in his book, and PBS special, Excuses Be Gone! He asked visitors to his website to list the reasons (or excuses) why they can’t do something.
- It will be difficult.
- It’s going to be risky.
- It will take a long time.
- There will be family drama.
- I don’t deserve it.
- It’s not my nature.
- I can’t afford it.
- No one will help me.
- It has never happened before
- I’m not strong enough.
- I’m not smart enough.
- I’m too old (or not old enough).
- The rules won’t let me.
- It’s too big.
- I don’t have the energy.
- It’s my personal family history.
- I’m too busy.
- I’m too scared.
Ouch! I think I might have used all of these at some point or another. When they are written down in black and white, some of these seem so ridiculous. Where did we learn to think like this? How did these thoughts become part of us?
Memes and Excuses Are Viral
Richard Brodie points out that some memes are like viruses. He explains that viruses exists in three universes; in the body, in computers, and in the mind.
He explains that …
A virus is anything that takes external copying equipment and puts it to work making copies of itself.
Just like a computer virus, or the flu, a meme virus has one goal – to multiply itself as many times and in as many things as possible.
We take measures to avoid the flu by washing our hands often or getting vaccinated. We install anti-virus software to protect our computers. We need to take these same types of measures in our small businesses to prevent the spread of meme viruses.
Fostering a Positive Work Environment
You’ve probably heard the saying that “misery loves company.” It makes a lot more sense in the light of meme viruses. So how do we sterilize our workplaces to prevent the transfer of these viruses throughout our small business?
We could just stay away from sick people, but when it comes to meme viruses we are all carriers. We have all been conditioned by memes through our childhood, our education, advertisers, the media, the workplace, and our belief systems.
As entrepreneurs, we need to create a work environment where we believe in our employees and go out of our way to catch them doing things correctly. We need to create a world of possibilities rather than a maze of obstacles.
Positive reinforcement of the good memes in our lives will enable them to battle the mutated corrupted memes much like the body’s biological immune system.
Be Careful What We Say
Words have a very powerful effect upon us. One of the reasons that the positive thinking message is so successful is that it eliminates the reinforcement of these negative meme viruses. It starves them to death.
You can’t keep telling yourself the excuses above over and over again without it taking an actual physical toll on your body. If you want to test it out, tell everyone you meet how tired you are. It won’t take long until you actually start feeling tired.
Likewise, you can’t keep telling yourself, or your employees, a positive message over and over again without it making an impact.
You can bless yourself and others around you with your words, or you can curse them. The choice is yours, but if you look at the successful business people who have gone before you – they chose to bless.
Food for Thought
Hopefully, I’ve sparked your curiosity and you will start thinking about excuses as viruses and how they can impact everything around you. Maybe you should even write down your own list of excuses and see if they seem ridiculous when you compare them with the possibilities from which they keep you.