I’d like to tell you a story. Not a long one and I swear it’ll be WORTH EVERY MINUTE of reading if you have ever made an excuse for not succeeding at a goal or task.
It was March of 2012 and I was graduating from The Culinary Institute of America for the second time. This time from the business program and with a little bun in my belly. Not from the kitchens there, though I did eat lots of buns. I was pregnant with my 3rd kidlet and ready to take on the corporate business world. I had a job before I graduated making just over $50k to start and I had a great title: Director! I was in charge of the facility I was placed in to create and manage the food service program there. It was a hospice residence. And it was brand new, not yet opened.
I was ecstatic! One of the very few grads that had such a high paying job right out of the gates, and the company knew about my little bun and was totally cool with it. SUCCESS!
I took the job. It was tough. I worked with people who were at the ends of their lives, days or hours from passing on to their next eternal destination. If they even felt like eating, I made whatever they wanted. Mostly, I fed the grieving families while they visited.
Then, there was 80-something year old Blanche. Amazing, hard-headed, stubborn as a bull Blanche. And she taught me some lessons.
Blanche came in as all the patients do: for kind, comfortable care to ease their last days. Well, she wasn’t having any of it. She wasn’t going passively and she let everyone know it. She was very well aware of where she was, she had all of her mental capacities intact and was sharp as needle. She wasn’t doing anything she didn’t want to, and I related to that.
But death very rarely bends to the will of humans when it’s determined. Death is death.
But she was Blanche. And against all medical prognosis, all medical knowledge, she thrived. She wanted to go back to her apartment where she lived on her own. She did not want to be in hospice care. She didn’t want care at all, in fact. Every day she let us know her plans and slowly as we saw her condition improve, and then resolve completely, we realized she was not our average patient. And soon she wasn’t our patient at all. She required no more end of life care, and required little therapeutic care to get back to life as she knew it.
Against doctor’s estimations, against what the medical community knew about her condition, she decided she wanted to live and refused to go peacefully. So that’s what she did.
Blanche set her sights higher than most people ever would, defy death when it’s beginning to wrap it’s cloak around her. She made bigger efforts mentally and physically than most ever will for any reason in their lives.
She could have given in. She could have made excuses for why it was too hard to fight, for why she couldn’t argue with the doctors, for why it was just her time. Instead she succeeded.
Now…Why did I tell you the story of Blanche? Her tenacity inspires me to this day. Her ability to just not care what others thought, believed, KNEW is what gave her the edge to overcome and to achieve what she wanted. And that attitude is what is needed in every aspect of life to live the life YOU want, like Blanche.
I took a survey of the cake community recently and within 7 days I had over 500 responses talking about individual difficulties. I found some very expected (and understandable) struggles: pricing, knowing how to market, beginning to assert a style all their own. These are expected and normal. So if you’re in any of those boats, you are thinking about your business right and are in very good company.
But what I also found, even more than all of the expected responses put together, was the amount of blaming and excuses that was going on. This behavior, this excuse making and blaming is a HUGE epidemic! One I hadn’t really noticed before because it was just the way of existing in our social circles and the cake community.
And I need to say here that I’m not pointing fingers or passing judgement. But it’s incredible that the biggest thing that has held people back in succeeding in their cake businesses is THEMSELVES and the excuses they make about outside forces holding them back.
- Customers that are not educated about the value of custom cakes – they are the problem.
- Limited local market is the problem.
- Unable to compete with Walmart pricing is the problem.
- Facebook changing it’s algorithm is the problem.
- Not being able to use copyrighted characters is the problem.
- Other local cakers undercutting and selling cheap cakes is the problem.
Question: When do the outside problems end?
Answer: They never will.
I have a secret for you, I have a solution… Work bigger. Work harder. Make bigger efforts and stop wasting time, mental space, emotional energy on complaining and making excuses. Adapt.
I’m a tough love sort when it’s called for and at some point the cake world needs to hear this: you are making excuses and you are the only one responsible for you not succeeding.
I spend lots of time getting into the right headspace. I surround myself only with those that are progressive thinkers, people who want to move forward in their lives positively. People who want to impact their lives and the lives of others with the gifts they have. I have removed people and spaces from my life that do not align with what I want more of: success, happiness, good will, growth, and support.
Let me illuminate a few things I had to leave behind (some were painful, but necessary) to stop making excuses and to start setting my goals higher:
- Facebook cake groups – I rarely go in there anymore. I haven’t left them in case I can be of assistance regarding one of my products and I’ve been tagged in something. They have been hidden from my news feed. Too much complaining and supporting of complaining happens in those. It’s a downer and it helps the other members of that community to justify why they make excuses and hold themselves back. (There is one exception: my Cake Success Mentor Series Alumni Group… It’s instant access to me. If you’re interested in Cake Success Mentor Series, send me an email and I’ll get you some information 🙂 firstname.lastname@example.org)
- I unfriended 1,000 people that I did not know and that had no personal investment in me (like, not cake… just me). I was the one responsible for accepting their requests, so I had to be the one responsible for unfriending the not-real friends. There were many, many cake people in there. MANY. But I never interacted with them, and they never reached out to me. But I saw rants and complaints in my news feed and it made me grouchy. It stole time and head space that I need for other things.
- I stopped looking at other people’s work almost entirely – this meant unsubscribing from notifications, cake blog newsletters, and removing myself from collabs (and no longer accepting invitations).
- I stopped entering the “Argument Room” – one of my mentors refers to the Argument Room as a place where you feel compelled to go and defend your point of view and to oppose others, for good reasons or not. But when we do that we give someone else space in our heads. We give them the ability to alter our emotional state. We almost never change anyone else’s minds to agree with us (after all, they are entering the Argument room for the same reason).
- I removed some people from my personal REAL life. That was the toughest. But they were people that only wanted to complain about life in general and to have someone to validate their woes. People who do that are very self-involved and rarely invested in your success and happiness. Their only investment is their lack of success and wanting sympathy and validation for the reasons (excuses) they have failed at their goals.
These were tough things to do. But even tougher was changing my own mindset. Changing the internal dialogue I have every moment of every day with myself that determines where my efforts (or excuses) lead me. I’ve stopped with excuses mostly. It’s hard to break habits that have been conditioned into you over 35 years but it IS doable when you believe it and work at it.
“I’ll do it tomorrow.”
“It wasn’t my fault.”
“I can’t control that.”
“Well, they are…”
“If ______ wasn’t the way (it/he/she) is…”
Those are excuse statements. Those are giving your control, power, and ability to succeed away. And those things need to stop in their tracks NOW. They need to die a quick death if you want to start succeeding and having the life you dream of living.
I’m issuing you a to-do list. If you are still here, you are reading for a reason. This speaks to you. You know deep down that you needed to read these words. And I challenge you to take on this to-do list starting NOW.
- Write down a goal – something BIG that you want to achieve by this date next year. Make this goal bigger than what you think you can achieve.
- Write down where you want to be in 5 years. What do you want your life to look like? What have you accomplished that has made you successful at that time?
- Print out an image of what you want to achieve, of your goal. Post it in your kitchen (I don’t care how pretty your kitchen is – don’t make excuses!), post it above the place you do most of your work like your computer desk or design table.
- Tell your family and friends out loud, in words, what your goals are. Give them life. Give them weight and make them real by saying it!
- Leave any space, real or virtual, that does not align with accomplishing your goals. Don’t let it sap one more moment of your valuable time and energy and mental space.
And that’s just the beginning. 😉 But I’ll leave you there for now because that’s a tall list. Those who succeed don’t make excuses, look for shortcuts, or allow themselves or others to impose “justified” limitations on what they can achieve. They simply do.
I’ve done it. And I’ll never look back.
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I’m excited to have you on board and can’t wait to get started! And in the meantime, tell me in the comments below what mindset YOU need to start changing!
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