Tuesday, November 9, 2010

One Phrase That Bugs Me...

Joshland Note: When I posted this, I didn't expect it to receive the amount of commentary it has. My position has not changed. I do not like the phrase and probably never will. That being said, I want to make sure that everyone knows this post is not an indictment of those who follow this frame of mind. We live our own lives the way we choose and that is a great thing.

This post has turned into a wonderful, respectful, and amazing conversation. I'm so thankful for the brave people who have commented on this blog post. I'm so proud to have the readership I do. Please join in and post a comment if you feel compelled. I would be honored. Much love and peaceful things. ~ posted at 8:00 PM CST on 11/9/2010

This might get me into big trouble, but I'm writing it anyways because it's in my heart and I wear that on my sleeve...

I don't care for the phrase 'no excuses' . To be clear, I'm not knocking those that use this phrase. Yes, I realize it's meant as a motivator and not a disincentive. I know that there are amazing people doing amazing things in the world. Their perseverance is remarkable and they should be commended. Here is a question though: What about those whose minds are willing, but their bodies are weak beyond their control? The "no excuses" mantra can crush their spirit. I know because I've talked to some of those people.

Here's another question:

What if I wouldn't have finished my 5K a month ago? What if my leg just gave out and forced me to quit? I am currently fighting a chest infection that has physically wiped me out. What if that would have happened in the middle of my training? Would it have been an "excuse" to quit? Would you think less of me? I certainly hope not. I am human. I have limitations just as we all do. If we didn't, then we'd all be pro athletes, Nobel prize winners, or millionaires.

I prefer to use this anonymous quote as my motivation: "I'd rather try and fail, than fail to try."

I think it shows just as much character to get knocked down and try again tomorrow. I've failed at A TON of things: college classes, certain jobs, and relationships. Hell, even these "Moganko Projects" have been filled with countless delays and failures. The point is that I'm living proof that you can screw up and still be successful. I've got a few success stories coming in future blog posts, so I won't be giving them away right now. Guess that means you'll have to come back and read them, huh? (Shameless blog plug ;-)

The greatest example of perseverance in my life was my sister. Angie always challenged herself to make it up a flight of stairs. Sometimes she didn't make it, but she always tried. She always tried to go to school, but sometimes her body wouldn't let her. She always tried to be happy, but sometimes life was overwhelming. I will always be proud of Angie for doing her best everyday and in her heart Angie knew she did her best too.

I have a clinic appointment today. What if my numbers are low despite taking my antibiotics, doing my therapy, and staying active? What's my excuse for "failing"? I don't have one because it was out of my control. I'm not afraid to fail if I know in my heart that I gave it my best effort. I don't need to justify anything to anyone else. Only to myself because I'm the one that has to live with it.

Do YOUR best. Don't worry about anyone else. You have your journey and they have theirs. Be your own motivator and lean on those you love to support you. At the end of the day, that's all you need.

I'll leave you with this:

On March 20, 2011, there will be a Virtual CF Run created by The Rock CF Foundation and CysticLife that coincides with the Rock CF Rivers Half Marathon in Grosse Ile, Michigan. Sign up and walk a mile or walk a block. Run 31.1 miles or 3.1 miles. Go up and down your stairs. Just try your best. If you try your best and are not afraid to fail and try again tomorrow, then that is all anyone can ask of you. It's what you should always expect from yourself.

March 20th is my sister's birthday. I wish my leg was better so I could run for her. Maybe it will be better by then. If not, I'll do something to be active. Angie would've liked that.

Click here to sign up for the Virtual CF Run!

Peaceful, Honest, and Blunt Things,



  1. As always, thank you for sharing your thoughts on this. I've been thinking about this particular phrase quite a bit lately. I think it's exactly what some people need to hear to get motivated, but I'm discovering that I'm not one of those people.

    This summer, I was involved in a bit of a freak accident that resulted in my achilles tendon being completely severed. As I'm sure you can imagine, my cardio routine went right out the window when I was injured. Almost four months later, I'm still unable to exercise the way I'd like to. (Heck, I consider myself lucky to be able walk across a parking lot these days.)

    There have been times that I've asked myself, "Am I just making excuses? Should I be doing more? Look at all these other people around me totally kicking ass!" The truth of the matter is, that I DO have an excuse -- a very valid one! A severed achilles tendon is NOT an easy injury to recover from! It's going to be quite sometime before I'm able to hit the treadmill with any sort of vigor, and that's okay. The fact that I get myself out and walk around the block in enough... for now.

    Sometimes there ARE factors beyond our control that make it difficult for us to preform the way we'd like to, and if some people view those as "excuses" then so be it. I don't buy it, though.

  2. For me, I think there's a big difference between an excuse and a reason, or to put it another way, a good excuse vs. a bad excuse. I myself am not afraid to try and fail, but if I fail I'll look back on how I was "trying" and adjust accordingly. I think it's a matter of each individual figuring out what works for him or her and then rolling with it. I've found that the more (bad) excuses I eliminate, the better I feel.

  3. that was great. thank you for sharing that.

  4. There is certainly "no excuse" for anyone not to admire a person who wears their heart on their sleeve, and shares it. :)

  5. this is beautiful, which isn't surprising because it comes from you. i admire the people who try to push the "limits" of CF and who encourage others to do so as well (heck, without some of those people i probably never would have gone to law school!), but it can so easily cross the line into making others feel like "failures" for the simple fact that sometimes CF (or any obstacle, really) is just too much. sometimes you just have to be kind to yourself and try again another day. and knowing one's limits takes a huge amount of inner strength and poise.

    i'm as guilty of this as anyone out there, and i really appreciate the reminder. love and light, josh - always.

  6. I like that
    "I'd rather try and fail, than fail to try."
    thanks Josh!
    well said
    cuddle cuddles from Oz

  7. I think it is possible to find balance with the statement "No Excuses." I like to take this approach with making sure I take all my medications and do my treatments, because really, there is no excuses to skip out on these important things. However, pushing yourself to be active when you have a chronic illness can lead to disaster if you don't listen to your body. Some days I am just too tired and I need a break just to relax. body just needs to heal and swimming that extra lap will do more harm than good. Sometimes I don't think of this is an excuses, but rather a factor in taking care of myself in the long term. I know we have talked about this Josh, so I know you get my point. I guess I am somewhere in between.

  8. First time I have read your blog, and this is great stuff, Josh. To me, it serves as an important reminder for any number of life areas, in the sense of choosing to regroup for the next challenge ahead rather than pridefully push through the current challenge at your own expense. For example, skipping that last hour at the office or job in order to spend it with a loved one or even your lonely pet, because it strengthens you for tomorrow, rather than exceeding your limt for the day in the name of temporary progress.
    Again, great work here.

    Tim Koerner

  9. I agree. I made a similar post on CG last year, that I don't, personally, care for any phrase that demeans that different ways we all deal with our DIFFERENT versions of CF, lung disease, transplant...

    I also do not like it that there is push toward extreme exercise, when we have different abilities at different stages of our disease. Am I failure because I NEVER ran a mile, and have NEVER walked one is less than 15 mins? Not at all. Many CFers have never sung onstage in front of hundreds of people, or climbed a latter with one hand holding a twenty pound theatre light in the other, or lifted stage curtain into the fly. I don't think THOSE people are failures, so if I never run a marathon for CF, why am I?

    Okay now I'm a ranting so I gotta cut n past this to CG. Goodnight Josh!!

  10. Oh, Josh, we have chatted about this a billion times. I am in complete agreement! I think that there are segments of the CF community that can make others feel less than or like they shouldn't have any negative feelings toward CF. I have talked to people who feel guilty for "complaining", when sharing thier struggles is what they need to be doing to feel better and get support at that moment. Some people I know are constantly apologizing for or suppressing thier struggles, because they think they will be seen as weak. I think that everyone deals differently and cares for themselves differently. I think the term "No Excuses" can make people with limited physical abilities feel weak. I don't like the term. However, I understand that for some it provides motivation. Others, I think, use it to mask thier denial.
    One thing I find interesting is that this "no excuses" terminology doesn't come up in the cancer community that I work within. There is not this pressure to be active and push yourself even if your body is broken and you are struggling. At least during treatment, it seems that those with cancer are given permission to be sick. Even Lance Armstrong took time to heal. I work out 4-6 times a week, BUT I have made a decision to listen to my body during this long-term treatment I'm going through. If I don't feel up to working out that day, I don't. Lately I have been making it to my workout class about 2 times a week. Some people may think I'm making excuses. I choose to call it being kind to myself and listening to my body.

  11. I agree, Josh. This is tough. I think, for me, the bottom line is that what works for one person won't necessarily work for me. Just because I don't run marathons, does not mean I don't do all I can to stay healthy. I have a hard time with the pressure to "run" sometimes. I realize it keeps a lot of people healthy. Yes, both before and after transplant I tried it. It just doesn't work for me. Walking does. yoga does. Other things do. Just not that. I often feel as if I'm making an excuse for not going for a run! But, I still have limits and it just doesn't work for me. My joints hurt, my legs cramp...well...you can picture the rest.

    I think it's great to push yourself and hold yourself accountable. I try. I don't always succeed. As a kid, I always tried new things, but did I use CF as an excuse not to even try doing PE or running...definitely. I probably still do at times. I do what makes me happy. I try things...sure...but if I don't succeed...oh well! I don't feel sorry for myself because I'm not a runner...or rock climber. I know my limits. Even almost 10 years out of transplant, I have limits. Everyone has limits. Bottom line. If YOU are happy, screw the world! That's my view. I do my best and nobody can take that away from me.

    Lastly, it's important to feel proud of yourself for your accomplishments, however small. I go by this...and it works for me.

    Love the post, as usual, my friend!

  12. I, like everyone else who has posted, have found myself in your post. Like Piper, I have always tended to cross the line. It was about myself as a failure. I have ended up very very very sick. I am much more mindful today in finding balance. I run for health and sanity and if I struggle I walk. In the past I would run through anything and ended up with double pneumonia, tanked 02 and many many bugs for depressing my immune system and not listening to my body... I am grateful for balance.
    Thank you Josh

  13. A great quote that is on my sons wall in his room is by a great Coach John Wooden
    "Success come from know that you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming."
    My 3 year old daughter has CF, and she has taught me and so many around her at a young age what perseverance is!! Many Blessings to you!

  14. Thanks for Sharing Josh, I always love reading your blog... Thanks for wearing your heart on your sleeve..:) Marcy

  15. It is so interesting that you posted this when you did. I read it and commented that it was a wonderful post. Then yesterday, after I had read it my son Kaleb who has CF came to me and he brought up some issues he is struggling with, one of them being this concept. As a coach, I many times say that phrase "no excuses" and found myself at a loss when dealing with my son who, in every respect in fact has valid "excuses". I found myself having to adjust my expectations of him and allowing for him to have success of his own, even if that success doesn't fit the standard and typical idea that is in the mainstream world. I watch my boy work and work and exercise and do treatments. I see him do all of this and still get sick, still not be able to run laps around the gym. We work so hard to work with him on not allowing CF to be an excuse in itself. In the regards that he doesn't say, "I can't or won't TRY that because I have CF". That is the balance we have tried to find with Kaleb and it has allowed me to realize my sons successes and understand that even though the coach in me says "no excuses" that in fact there may be. Instead, my new phrase is, "always keep trying" and that seems to be a good fit in any situation.

  16. I agree with Marcy. Thanks for sharing, Josh!!!

  17. It's funny that you wrote about this, now, for me any how. I haven't been feeling very good these days. Not because of CF but because I'm pregnant. You might not understand this if you've never been pregnant. But my first trimester was terrible! It made me think, what if I just didn't feel good... maybe because of health reasons or CF. It made me kind of sad. To feel bad and you have no control to "feel better". It also made me think, don't judge someone. They might really be feeling bad and can't do anything about it, no matter what they do. And no one WANTS to feel bad.

    You're an amazing person Josh. And so many of the other CF people I have met via Facebook. You are all so driven! I bet it's hard! And it's not fair but maybe it's what makes you so incredible!


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