You can make excuses, or you can make progress. You cannot make both – Craig Groeschel.
The Boll Weevil
In Enterprise, Alabama, a strange monument stands. A slender lady, almost similar to Lady Liberty at the Statue of Liberty in New York, stands with her hands raised above her head, holding an oversized boll weevil. History recounts that in 1915, cotton production in Alabama was ravaged by the tiny boll weevil. Boll weevils are cotton’s kryptonite. Each spring, they emerge from hibernation, lay eggs within cotton balls, the areas that produce value, and proceed to destroy the crop. From Texas to Virginia, the boll weevil wreaked havoc and spared no farm.
Threatening the economy, farmers were at a loss on how to solve the weevil infestation that wasn’t going away. Anxiety, panic, and worry spread as fast as the boll weevil’s attack on cotton. As the economy was reeling, George Carver, a botanical innovator and inventor found a solution. He encouraged farmers to grow peanuts as a cash crop in place of cotton. With no other option, and poverty lurking, farmers adopted Carver’s solution, and the economy was booming again. It turns out the boll weevil was a blessing in disguise! Not only was the boll weevil rendered powerless through the absence of cotton, but peanuts also ushered in a slew of products like oil, soap, face powder, and several kinds of stains and dyes. This added value prompted town leaders to commission the statue as a reminder that our biggest obstacles can become our greatest opportunities.
Life Comes With Boll Weevils
I believe we all deal with boll weevils in life. Challenges that come our way at the intersection of where we are and where we intend to go. Threatening to slow our momentum and eat away our progress, they always seem to come at the wrong time. At this intersection, excuses are easy to make. They are the low-hanging fruit of choices, easy to reach but detrimental to our future. Excuses are the nuts and bolts used to build houses of regret. Excuses can be addictive. Making one leads to another, and just like a chain of positive decisions and actions creates momentum, a chain of excuses stalls momentum and replaces it with stagnation. When challenges visit the farm of our progress and lay eggs of fear, worry, anxiety, and hopelessness, we can choose to show up, adapt, and overcome through resilience, or we can make excuses and allow our boll weevils to win. To sidestep the landmine of excuses we must decide to show up with an open mind.
An Open Mind
When farmers were at a loss on what to do, George Washington Carver showed up. Carver represents the no excuse approach to life. A life free of excuses requires a proactive response to life when the boll weevils come crawling. What qualities can we glean from Carver? He was open-minded. Carver believed a different crop could flourish in spite of the boll weevils. Excuses thrive where close-mindedness exists. Maintaining an open mind is crucial to excuse-proof your life. Excuses are dangerous because once used, they rarely collect dust; we use them, use them, and use them, as Pastor Andy Stanley observed. Whether good or bad, excuses eventually morph into justifiable reasons. Once excuses become reasons, we create explanations and accumulate good intentions and great ideas as our lives descend into apathy. When we show up with an open mind, we not only keep excuses at bay but we make progress in the areas we consider valuable.
Too Important to Excuse
Pastor Craig Groeschel once said, “If something is important to you, you will find a way. If it is not, you will find an excuse.” Knowledge of value eliminates excuses. A workaround is found when the level of importance is substantial. The farmers in the south were losing over 60% of their crop to the boll weevil. Carver found a never-tried-before alternative. The farmers gladly welcomed Carver’s alternative because their livelihood was at stake. The level of importance was too high to ignore or make excuses for not growing peanuts. Any farmer who opted out of Carver’s idea would have suffered the consequences.
How important is the thing you’ve surrounded with excuses? When what we make excuses for becomes too important to ignore, we find a way to make progress. Excuses reflect a low level of importance or value. They never serve the purpose of a higher quality of life. Excuses prevent us from making necessary changes that bode well for our future. By recalling how important something is, we can overcome excuses and find a way.
Final Thought: Think about the “boll weevils” or obstacles you face in your health, finances, and relationships. Next, pay attention to the excuses you’ve repeatedly made that have now become justifiable reasons for why you have not made necessary changes in those three areas for the better. Finally, using a scale of one to ten (ten being the highest,) rank each area according to the level of importance. This level of clarity will help you excuse-proof your life, generate momentum, and put you back on the path to progress.
Keep on keeping on.