Why I Love Buts

In Earl Nightengale’s recording titled The Strangest Secret he starts with a quote where a reporter asks a doctor “What’s wrong with men today?” The doctor’s response after a short and thoughtful pause was that “Men simply don’t think.” (Nightengale, 1950) After thinking about the Doctors response and looking back over my 29 years of life; revisiting my failures and successes, I have to agree with the Doctor. Though the Doctor made that statement sometime before 1950, in my opinion it still stands today 64 years later. I think we live in an age where people would rather complain than take action, rather make excuses than to get results, and rather quit than make adjustments. At the center of these scenarios is often a big stinky BUT, which is why I love BUTS. BUTS weed out potential competition, BUTS let me know what my weakness are, and in knowing what my weakness are I can begin to work on those weakness’ turning them into strengths.

Several times I’ve heard that excuses are like ... “anuses” we all have one and they all stink. I agree with the analogy to a degree. Yes, we all of a have excuses. Cars do break down; traffic does get backed up; alarm clocks go unheard; and it’s a 100% indisputable fact that dogs like the taste of homework. In addition, there are things we don’t know and there are thing that we are unable to do well. I think many would agree with each of those statements, with the exception of the dog and homework—I don’t have a dog so I don’t know. The part I disagree with is that excuses all stink. In my opinion the only excuses that stink are the ones we let sit and rot, we know they are there yet we do nothing with them. Doing nothing with them can cause a funk our jobs, goals and relationships. For example, I’m in the Navy. I was stationed in Norfolk, VA when our ship’s in-port working hours changed from starting at 0700 to starting at 0800. Though we got an extra hour of sleep there was one problem; in addition having to deal with military traffic we had to deal with civilian traffic, people who were usually still at home by the time we normally had to be at work. Surely the first day several of us called in “I’m going to be late...Traffic.” Valid excuses, because it was a new situation for us all. I personally learned it no longer took 15 minutes to drive to work BUT it took 30 minutes. The majority of us did something with the BUT; we simply left earlier than we did when we were late. One person continued to be late two and three days afterward complaining “I would be on time BUT traffic...” until supervisor heard enough and said, “Guess what I heard there is no traffic at 0500 so be here by 0600.” Sitting on your BUT can reduce the trust that supervisors have for you to make responsible decisions for yourself. This is why I love BUTS because whenever I hear myself say BUT I know exactly what adjustment needs to be made, everyone doesn’t see it like I do and I feel I may have an advantage over the ones that don’t.

I learned very recently that it is imperative to get the BUTS out of your life soon as possible, because if you let them sit and loiter they will get in the way of your goals and stop you from accomplishing what you want to accomplish. Fairly recently I realized one of my BUTS cost me $10,000. It didn’t cost me, but if I knew what I know today about BUTS I’d be $10,000 richer.

About seven years ago a co-worker and I were talking about stocks. I was asking what were stocks and which should I buy. The advice I was given was to simply buy stock in company that has products you like, and to buy low sell high. I liked Apple Inc. computers, I had two iPods. In addition, this cool looking product called an iPhone was coming out that I wanted to get. I looked Apple up on a search engine and found the stock price and it was $75/share, the highest it had ever been at that moment. I said to myself “I would buy the stock BUT I don’t know where to buy it, how to buy it or if I should even consider buying it because the price is so high. I had about $1000 to spare and I had always wanted to get into stocks and investments, but there were too many unknowns. My failure was not having unknowns; my failure was not looking up unknowns and turning them into knowns. Six years after that point I somehow saw the stock price of Apple and it was at over $700/share. The “BUT I don’t know” had been my stopping point, before I even started. The same goes for many others, they say “I want to invest, but I don’t know how. I got an idea for this, but I don’t know how to get started or I would do this, but that.” Then everything stops there. After I saw the stock price I kicked myself for a few minutes then soon brought an investment book, paid for a subscription to a website that teaches how to invest and been up and down Youtube teaching myself how to invest. I took a year to save money solely to invest in stocks freely without the fear of losing a paycheck and I’ve been making an average of an extra $1000/month. Now, imagine if I had this attitude toward BUTS seven years ago. I probably wouldn’t be working right now, but a financially independent stay at home or traveling day trader, a goal which I’m working toward at the moment. Seeing what I could’ve had was a wake-up call, and I love the fact that I have a personal situation like that to refer to when I want to stop at “BUT I don’t know.” Recalling that situation is an exceptional tool that I have to keep me going. The pastor Joel Osteen said, “Nothing in life happens to you, but everything happens for you.” We just have to learn to see it that way and it starts in the mind.

I love BUTS because in my mind they point out my shortcomings for whatever it is that I want to accomplish, they are a compass that I use as guide for growth. When I have to say, “BUT” I have something new to add to an ever growing list of things to do that will only make me successful at reaching a goal. In others minds BUTS stink, they are the gate way to a worthless excuse. In my mind BUTS are as refreshing as cool, sweet bowl of fruit on a hot summer day. Just don’t let them sit there in the sun to rot. Use them to nourish you and help you grow to your fullest potential.


Nightengale, E. (1956). The Strangest Secret. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=62DqsD2s5V8

Osteen, J. (2013). Everything In Life Happens For A Reason. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TFN4gGjPaBQ

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