In our last instalment of Napoleon Hill Takes Us To Task, we talked about the 31 major causes of failure. And now we’ve got the “55 Famous Alibis by Old Man IF”.

Hill states:

“People who do not succeed have one distinguishing trait in common. They know all the reasons for failure, and have what they believe to be air-tight alibis to explain away their own lack of achievement.

“A character analyst compiled a list of the most commonly used alibis. As you read the list, examine yourself carefully, and determine how many of these alibis, if any, are your own property.

  • IF I didn’t have a wife and family…
  • IF I had enough “pull”…
  • IF I had money…
  • IF I had a good education…
  • IF I could get a job…
  • IF I had good health…
  • IF I only had time…
  • IF times were better…
  • IF other people understood me…
  • IF conditions around me were only different…
  • IF I could live my life over again…
  • IF I did not fear what “they” would say…
  • IF I had been given a chance…
  • IF I now had a chance…
  • IF other people didn’t “have it in for me”…
  • IF nothing happens to stop me…
  • IF I were only younger…
  • IF I could only do what I want…
  • IF I had been born rich…
  • IF I could meet “the right people”… (read this if that’s your problem)
  • IF I had the talent that some people have…
  • IF I dared assert myself…
  • IF I only had embraced past opportunities…
  • IF people didn’t get on my nerves…
  • IF I didn’t have to keep house and look after the children…
  • IF I could save some money…
  • IF the boss only appreciated me…
  • IF I only had somebody to help me…
  • IF my family understood me…
  • IF I lived in a big city…
  • IF I could just get started…
  • IF I were only free…
  • IF I had the personality of some people…
  • IF I were not so fat…
  • IF my talents were known…
  • IF I could just get a “break”…
  • IF I could only get out of debt…
  • IF I hadn’t failed…
  • IF I only knew how…
  • IF everybody didn’t oppose me…
  • IF I didn’t have so many worries…
  • IF I could marry the right person…
  • IF people weren’t so dumb…
  • IF my family were not so extravagant…
  • IF I were sure of myself…
  • IF luck were not against me…
  • IF I had not been born under the wrong star…
  • IF it were not true that “what is to be will be”…
  • IF I did not have to work so hard…
  • IF I hadn’t lost my money…
  • IF I lived in a different neighborhood…
  • IF I didn’t have a “past”…
  • IF I only had a business of my own…
  • IF other people would only listen to me…

IF *** and this is the greatest of them all…

if I had the courage to see myself as I really am, I would find out what is wrong with me, and correct it. Then I might have a chance to profit by my mistakes and learn something from the experience of others, for I know that there is something wrong with me, or I would now be where I would have been if I had spent more time analyzing my weaknesses, and less time building alibis to cover them.”

Hey, look! He kicked our butts again.

My personal top 3 bugaboos are “If I were sure of myself”, “If I did not have to work so hard” and “If I did not fear what ‘they’ would say”.

What about you? Got any alibis hanging in your closet?

 

About the author: Naomi Dunford started IttyBiz in 2006. In her free time, she likes to… ha! Free time. You’re adorable. Learn more about her here and catch up with her on Twitter or Facebook.

Way back in the Great Depression, Napoleon Hill wrote a little book called Think and Grow Rich. I’ve read this book a few times and I have to say, there seems to be a lot more to the process than thinking, but the author is unavailable for comment.

Within this book, he lists 31 explanations for “the overwhelmingly large majority of people who fail, as compared to the few who succeed.”

(Aside: If anyone ever tells you they loved this book, ask them what they thought about the chapter on sex. That’s always a conversation starter.)

In the mood for a little fearless moral inventory on a Monday morning? Why not?

1. Unfavorable hereditary background. (Hill says this is the only factor on this list that can not be easily corrected by any individual.)

2. Lack of a well-defined purpose in life.

3. Lack of ambition to aim above mediocrity.

4. Insufficient education. (Hill doesn’t differentiate between self-education and college. He doesn’t care how you get educated, as long as you do it.)

5. Lack of self-discipline. (Hill says that “one must control all negative qualities. Before you can control conditions, you must first control yourself.”)

6. Ill health.

7. Unfavorable environmental influences during childhood. (Incidentally, Hill’s words for running with a bad crowd in your youth are “improper associates during childhood”. I think we can all agree that’s the best turn of phrase to ever grace the printed page.)

8. Procrastination.

9. Lack of persistence.

10. Negative personality. (“There is no hope of success for the person who repels people through a negative personality.” Raise your hand if that describes your ex.)

11. Lack of controlled sexual urge. (Ahem.)

12. Uncontrolled desire for “something for nothing”.

13. Lack of a well defined power of decision. (“Men who succeed reach decisions promptly, and change them, if at all, very slowly. Men who fail reach decisions, if at all, very slowly, and change them frequently, and quickly.”)

14. One or more of the six basic fears. (He lists, “named in the order of their most common appearance”, fear of povery, criticism, ill health, loss of love, old age, and death.)

15. Wrong selection of a mate in marriage. (He lists this as the most common cause of failure.)

16. Over-caution.

17. Wrong selection of associates in business. (Napoleon Hill, in 1937, predicted the joint venture telesummit. You heard it here first.)

18. Superstition and prejudice.

19. Wrong selection of a vocation.

20. Lack of concentration of effort. (See: How To Become Rich And Famous On The Internet in 5 Easy Steps.)

21. The habit of indiscriminate spending.

22. Lack of enthusiasm. (“Without enthusiasm one cannot be convincing.”)

23. Intolerance.

24. Intemperance.

25. Inability to cooperate with others.

26. Possession of power that was not acquired through self-effort. (“Power in the hands of one who did not acquire it gradually is often fatal to success. Quick riches are more dangerous than poverty.”)

27. Intentional dishonesty.

28. Egotism and vanity.

29. Guessing instead of thinking.

30. Lack of capital. (“This is a common cause of failure among those who start out in business for the first time, without sufficient reserve of capital to absorbe the shock of their mistakes, and to carry them over until they have established a reputation.”)

31. “Name any particular cause of failure from which you have suffered that has not been included in the foregoing list.” (Here, he was referring to Facebook.)

Well, then.

He goes on to say that those who don’t succeed all have a distinguishing trait in common. “They know all the reasons for failure, and have what they believe to be air-tight alibis to explain away their own lack of achievement.”

We’ll talk about alibis next time.

About the author: Naomi Dunford started IttyBiz in 2006. In her free time, she likes to… ha! Free time. You’re adorable. Learn more about her here and catch up with her on Twitter or Facebook.

Today, I completely ran out of things to say.

I wrote the introductions for my next seven newsletters.

I found quotes for the next month.

I wrote 53 emails, planned a trip, and took two sales calls.

And I called my mother.

I should note here that I’m writing this on a Saturday.

I’m sure it comes as a surprise to nobody, but at some point in this process, I completely ran out of things to say.

And poor you! You are sitting there, breathlessly waiting for your next instalment of the IttyBiz daily and I am dry. I got nothing.

Hmm.

It’s weird when this happens. You’re on this crazy roll, getting an absolutely stupid amount of stuff done, and you’re getting accustomed to the momentum. It’s like shopping in a crazy busy mall. You get into a flow of bam! bam! bam! Dodge, charge, pivot, go, turn, and then…

Silence. Motionlessness.

It’s like all of a sudden the people are gone and the stores are shut and you’re not entirely sure what you’re supposed to do now.

What you are supposed to do now

When you are experiencing temporary burnout, you must do something that is not work.

That something should be, at minimum, comparable in time and attention level as a chunk of work. If you would be working for two hours, you should take at least two hours away. If you would be working on something mentally engrossing, you should do something equally engrossing.

This seems obvious to those around you, and yet completely counterintuitive to you. You think that you should stay busy, stay occupied, get something useful done. You think that you should try harder, or get a coffee, or stare at your computer screen for a while in case that solves the problem.

Nope. This is one of those few situations where the majority is actually right.

All your idiot friends who tell you that you need to take a little break, step away from the computer for a while? Those ones who just don’t get it?

Yeah, unfortunately, it’s you who doesn’t get it. (Please bear in mind here that when I say “you”, I mean “me”.)

Time for some practical examples!

If you were going to work on outlining your next product, and it was going to be mentally taxing, you need something that will not only utilize a completely separate area of your brain, but something that will actively restore you. A movie, perhaps. A run, maybe, as long as you’re not the type who thinks while you’re running.

If you were catching up on your emails and it wasn’t going to be taxing, you can just do something dumb and brainless. Candy Crush: Soda Saga is a nice choice here, but if you’re stuck on a level, you’ll only get five minutes. But the movie option still works. I routinely TiVo Jeopardy! for situations like this one.

If you’re doing something that’s making you numb, like taxes, you’re going to need something energizing. Some kind of personal treat would be a good idea, ideally something that gets you far away from the source of the problem. Drop in on a yoga class or get an ice cream. Bonus science points if you go somewhere you don’t normally go – it activates the novelty parts of your brain and makes you more alert for a good while afterwards.

Some tips for taking a break:

1. One thing that I find really helpful here is setting a little intention before you take your big break. I say something like, “OK, I’m going to go watch Legally Blonde so I can give my brain a chance to fully restore. That way I can come back rejuvenated and ready to kick some ass.”

I avoided doing this for a long time because I thought it was cheesy. Then I tried it and it worked. Then I tried it again and it worked again. Once the third time succeeded, I had to admit that it was a good strategy for me. I value science over ego, and if it works, it works.

2. If you hate the task, you may want to admit it to yourself. I don’t hate this task, I love it, but there are plenty I don’t love. When I was recording launch multipliers in month 11 of BIG LAUNCH, after I’d already done it once before but my computer wiped the files? Yeah, those are the kind of situations made for “Oh my God I ****ing hate my ****ing job and I ****ing hate this ****ing product and I swear I am moving to Costa Rica tomorrow.”

Sometimes, saying exactly how you feel is remarkably cathartic.

3. On the other hand, if it’s just standard issue fatigue, try to put a positive frame around your break. This is not the end of the world. You’re in a line of work that drains your resources. Being periodically drained is hardly a state of emergency. Sitting around saying you’re soooooo drained and soooooo tired and juuuuuust caaaaaaan’t work is not helpful.

Pretend you work for a moving company. Those guys are tired at the end of the day, and they probably can’t lift one more thing. You know what they do? They drink some beer, watch some baseball, and put their feet up. They do not put in an emergency call to their life coach, claiming existential catastrophe.

Sit down, enjoy your Strictly Ballroom, and smile. Your rejuvenating, not injured.

4. Plan for it. If you’re in a periodically draining line of work, this is going to happen. It might be a good idea to have a plan and some supplies on hand so you can immediately shift gears when you’re feeling the signs.

People with diabetes plan for crashes. Parents of preschoolers plan for crashes. Don’t get superstitious about this.

The more you plan for a crash, the faster you can recharge, and the faster you can get back on your feet.

 

About the author: Naomi Dunford started IttyBiz in 2006. In her free time, she likes to… ha! Free time. You’re adorable. Learn more about her here and catch up with her on Twitter or Facebook.