Monday, June 6, 2011

"No excuse, Sir!"

I paid my way through college with a Navy R.O.T.C scholarship.  Right before freshman year, the Navy sent me to a mini bootcamp.  Nothing like the real bootcamp that enlisted folks go through, just ten days of marching around, learning to salute, and getting yelled at a lot.

In those ten days I learned one of the most valuable phrases of my life: "Sir, no excuse, Sir!"

"Midshipman Bachman, why can't you manage to shine your shoes?"

"Sir, no excuse, Sir!"

"Midshipman Bachman, were you eyeballin' me?"

"Sir, no excuse, Sir!"

"Midshipman Bachman, why do you have toothpaste on your shirt?"

"Sir, no excuse, Sir!" [While I was thinking, perhaps it had something to do with the fact that you gave all 60 of us exactly one minute to brush our teeth at the same time in a bathroom with three sinks.]

I got the message pretty quickly that in the military excuses don't really matter.  If your submarine has a rattle and gets detected and destroyed by an enemy torpedo, it really doesn't matter that you have perfectly good reasons why the sound silencing maintenance wasn't completed properly.  Your job is to anticipate issues, deal with them, and avoid the need for excuses.

Same rule holds in life, and business.

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