Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Tools of the Incompetent

Sometimes you find pearls of wisdom in the most unlikely places.

Last week while watching So You Think You Can Dance, one of those pearls dropped into my lap. The unlikely giver, the unlikely setting, left my mind reeling. It was brilliant. Pure wisdom on a reality dance show.

A girl who had high hopes of getting into SYTYCD’s Top Twenty was cut from the competition. She was beautiful, shining, and while tears glistened in her eyes, she smiled, and offered wisdom:

“Excuses are the tools of the incompetent and I will not use them."

Holy Guacamole. Was that a pearl she just flung out there?

I had to hurry to write down the words, and then I spent some time googling them—wondering if the dancer had authored them herself, or perhaps she was falling back on wisdom someone else had given her.

There seems to be some dispute as to who the author of this wisdom might be, and in fact I could not find record of the exact line quoted above. Stephen Grayhm said “Excuses are the tools with which persons with no purpose in view build for themselves great monuments of nothing,” but I like the dancer’s line better.

I cringe whenever I hear dancers on the show, singers on American Idol, or people in regular every day life, offer excuses as a way to avoid consequences for their actions or choices. I used to be an excuse girl—who among us hasn’t tried them, right? But eventually I learned that I made so many mistakes that the excuses started to sound flat, even to my own ears.

The truth is, mistakes happen. As human beings, we are far from perfect and it shows. We make glorious, huge, life-altering mistakes. But the awesome thing about mistakes is that if we own them, claim them, and if we are willing to take a good, hard look at them, we can learn from them.

Learning never happens when our minds have built up walls of excuses around the truth.

Strangely, I am grateful for the mistakes I have made. Because of a poorly written first book, I strove to write again, to see if I could do it better. And again, and again. I am getting better, and it’s only because I haven’t hidden behind excuses as to why I wasn’t awesome to begin with.

Because of mistakes, I have felt the sweet swelling of love and forgiveness of my Savior and Father in Heaven. If I’d hid behind my wall of excuses, I might never have known how much They loved me.

And because I no longer making excuses for the poor choices my mother made, I’m able to see how I can pilot my life better.

No good comes from making excuses, while so much joy awaits beyond them.

Possibly Stephen Grayhm, but I’m not certain, wrote a poem related to the line given by the dancer on SYTYCD:

"Excuses are monuments of nothingness,
They build bridges to nowhere,
Those of us who use these tools of incompetence,
Seldom become anything but nothing at all."

I, for one, plan on being something, warts and all. How about you?