Saw this post from Techstars co-founder David Cohen and thought I’d explore it a little more deeply. David talks about the moment of integrity. Your life leads up to that moment. Sometimes your family values it and so it’s deeply ingrained in you. Sometimes it doesn’t.
Integrity is messy because even though there is a Webster’s definition, the human interpretation is pretty variable.
When I went to the US Air Force Academy I dropped off my bags and I toed a white line. An upper-class cadet taught me how to stand at attention. Then he backed up and uttered these words. “From this moment on you will say five statements.”
- Yes Sir/Ma’am
- No Sir/Ma’am
- Sir/Ma’am may I make a statement?
- Sir/Ma’am, may I ask a question?
- No excuse Sir/Ma’am
Here is a blog post by a West Point cadet on their similar ritual. The last statement is the one that deals with David’s “moment of integrity”. No excuse sir comes from something you did. Someone asks you, and there simply is no excuse for not getting the job done. No excuse for your action. No excuse. It means you alone accept total responsibility, and you are willing to shoulder it.
Quoting Mr Rheam from his blog post,
Excuses are easy, but personal responsibility is hard. You want to live a life of significance? Then stop excusing your poor decisions, take stock of your life, and begin living a life of excellence, free of excuses. Don’t like where you are in your life? What is your excuse? If your answer to that question is anything other than “No excuse, sir!” then I suggest you read my post again.
This applies directly to CEO’s of startups. Directly. No excuse sir is taking account of yourself. It’s taking account of why things are not working out.
We like to make excuses for mistakes. We like to share the blame and deflect it. Short term it’s tough on our mental state. Long term it builds character. That character infiltrates the culture of your team.
That day was a long time ago by the way