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Success Requires No Explanations

I am currently re-reading Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill (on audible). This morning I came across this line in the book

“Success requires no explanations; failure permits no alibis.”

Well, I got stuck on it, put on some Tibetan healing chants and began to ponder that statement.

I started by looking within to see where this may have shown up in my life. Of course, I have experienced my own plethora of successes and failures—some big, some small—but I wondered how did this statement play out?

Some Clarity on Definitions

First stop, the Oxford Dictionary of English to get exact meanings of the words “explanation” and “alibi”:

Explanation (noun): A statement or account that makes something clear

Alibi (noun): A claim or piece of evidence that one was elsewhere when an act, typically a criminal one, is alleged to have taken place

After acquiring the exact clarity I was looking for, I began to review some of that deluge of wisdom that had rolled in earlier.

I could easily see that any of my past successes had never required me to explain anything to myself or anyone else. Yes, I might talk about them, share them at dinner parties or the like, but never as an "explanation". You might say that the "success" portion was fairly simple to understand. "Failure permits no alibis" required significantly more brainpower.

The word alibi, with its etymological root is in Latin for which it means "elsewhere". As an English word, it has been used since the 18th century to mean an assertion that a person was elsewhere. In the 20th century, a new use arose with the meaning "an excuse" (thank you, Oxford). So switch in excuse for alibi, and voila—"failure permits no excuse".

Perfectly Good Excuses

Now I began thinking, “Wait a second, I have plenty of perfectly good excuses (alibis) for a lot of my failures.”

Come to think of it, likely all of them. For the sake of brevity, I will not begin to list them all, but it is safe to say that the excuses are many.

I am, of course, reminded that not one of those alibis made a difference. Having a really great excuse for failure didn't suddenly turn it into a success. Actually, it made no difference to the outcome and explaining that to anyone who would listen did not change anything. If I tried, it would simply sound like a desperate attempt at self-soothing.

Yes, I could hang my hat on some reason and garner up some good ol' justification, but in the end, I was still left with a failure. No alibi was going to change it or transform it into success.

As for this post, is it a success or failure? I'll let you be the judge.

Writer: Thomas DeSchutter

Thomas DeSchutter is the lead coach at Thomas DeSchutter Business Success Coaching and the founder of Bloom Strategies, a financial strategies firm with proven strategies for your financial success. Thomas has designations as a CCS™ Certified Cash Flow Specialist and a Profit First Professional.

He is also an author and the host of The Bloom Living Podcast (now entering its fifth season) and the Conscious Cash podcast. Both are available (links below) on; Apple podcasts, Stitcher, Google Play, and Spotify.

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