Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Quote of the Day: No Excuses!

 

“I attribute my success to this — I never gave or took any excuse.” — Florence Nightingale

Okay, I admit it; I’m obsessed with the importance of personal responsibility. And this quotation by Florence Nightingale, the woman who was the founder of modern nursing, reflects my strong beliefs on the subject. No doubt Ms. Nightingale ran into more than her share of roadblocks in her aspirations, but she was fearless and willing to take them on.

Today we have a society that is drowning in excuses. People who encounter difficulties blame others for holding them back. They purport to know people’s biases, feelings, preferences, and hatred toward them. They want to be able to pursue their goals in life with a minimum amount of effort. If they weren’t hired for jobs, racism was to blame. If they weren’t promoted to a new position, someone had unfair influence. The opportunities for feeling insecure and frustrated are endless. Especially when we can blame other people for our losses.

I liked Ms. Nightingale’s second point, too: never taking excuses from others. It can be so difficult to hold others accountable for their mistakes, poor performance, or bad attitudes. I received a litany of excuses from managers and supervisors when I worked as a consultant for not firing poorly performing employees: the system protects them; it will take years to get rid of them; they’ll just get moved to another position. But they didn’t realize what a disservice they were doing to the employee.

I was once hired to coach a supervisor because her sarcasm and demeanor intimidated her employees. She was a very unpleasant person to work for, although I got along with her and personally liked her. So, I spent a couple of months discussing with her other options for interacting with her employees. In fact, once she began understanding the impact of her behavior, she was not only identifying alternative responses, but began to catch herself “in the act,” even apologizing to employees. Her world opened to new opportunities for supervising her people. After my coaching time with her, I met with her employees for confidential feedback about her behavior. She still resorted to old behaviors on occasion, but several employees said she was much easier to work with and gave me examples.

The point I’m also making is that for years, her supervisors and managers kept ignoring complaints about her behavior. They did her a terrible disservice in not coaching her and explaining that she needed to modify her interactions. And then holding her accountable when she didn’t.

Florence Nightingale had the right idea. For us to be effective in our work and our relationships, we need to be prepared to learn about ourselves from others, hold others accountable, and be prepared to grow and change.

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  1. Stad Thatcher

    Susan Quinn: I liked Ms. Nightingale’s second point, too: never taking excuses from others. It can be so difficult to hold others accountable for their mistakes, poor performance or bad attitudes.

    This is what I like about Trump – he fires people who don’t the job done the way he wants it done. When William Bennett was Secretary of Education, he talked about being at the helm of a ship trying to set a course, then going below deck to find the wheel wasn’t connected to anything. Can you say, “Deep State”?

    • #1
    • November 17, 2020, at 5:57 AM PST
    • 10 likes
  2. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    Stad (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn: I liked Ms. Nightingale’s second point, too: never taking excuses from others. It can be so difficult to hold others accountable for their mistakes, poor performance or bad attitudes.

    This is what I like about Trump – he fires people who don’t the job done the way he wants it done. When William Bennett was Secretary of Education, he talked about being at the helm of a ship trying to set a course, then going below deck to find the wheel wasn’t connected to anything. Can you say, “Deep State”?

    Boy isn’t that the truth, @stad! Government is the worst place to look for accountability!

    • #2
    • November 17, 2020, at 6:01 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  3. Arahant Member


    If you would like to participate in the Quote of the Day series, our sign-up sheet for November awaits. There are two more openings this month the 26th and 29th.

    If, on the other hand, you want to share with Ricochet the thanks you have to give, you might consider Group Writing, for which the theme this month is: Cornucopia of Thanks.

    • #3
    • November 17, 2020, at 7:02 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  4. MichaelKennedy Coolidge

    Florence was more than the founder of nursing. She and John Snow were the founders of epidemiology. She also invented the graphic method of displaying statistics. I have a chapter on her and Snow in my medical history book. Snow was the one who stole the pump handle on the Broad Street pump and stopped the cholera epidemic. In the 1940s, it was discovered that the Royal Army Medical Corps was still using some of her methods.

    • #4
    • November 17, 2020, at 8:08 AM PST
    • 10 likes
  5. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    MichaelKennedy (View Comment):

    Florence was more than the founder of nursing. She and John Snow were the founders of epidemiology. She also invented the graphic method of displaying statistics. I have a chapter on her and Snow in my medical history book. Snow was the one who stole the pump handle on the Broad Street pump and stopped the cholera epidemic. In the 1940s, it was discovered that the Royal Army Medical Corps was still using some of her methods.

    Wow! Thanks, @michaelkennedy.

    • #5
    • November 17, 2020, at 8:46 AM PST
    • 1 like
  6. TBA Coolidge
    TBA

    In retrospect, she was a giant. 

    • #6
    • November 17, 2020, at 12:19 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  7. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    TBA (View Comment):

    In retrospect, she was a giant.

    We could probably use her methods today; they would probably be vastly better than the docs lecturing us regarding this virus!

    • #7
    • November 17, 2020, at 12:22 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  8. Flicker Coolidge

    Flo was also a hypochondriac who took to her bed for, what, the last forty years of her life?, and conducted interviews with people at her bed side.

    • #8
    • November 17, 2020, at 12:37 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  9. Old Bathos Moderator

    More than once I have been in the position of having to depend on others without whose aid I would probably be dead or living badly. I am thus constrained from pontificating about the virtues of self-reliance.

    There are some requisite nuances here. It is never all right to quit on life, to blame others or fate or God for outcomes that were within one’s power to have changed, But it is also never wrong to seek help or admit to failings that require assistance to overcome. Self-reliance requires some brutal honesty about the ole self’s strengths and limitations. 

    I was somewhat annoyed with Romney’s 2004 comments about being resigned to lose the 49% that will never vote GOP and his stock speeches about the glories of entrepreneurship. For a hell of a lot of people who would like very much to be self-reliant in the minimal bill-paying meaning of the word but can’t find or see or even hope for a path to that state of affairs, it is not enough to point out the obvious benefits of what they don’t have in the way of virtues and habits. How do they get there? How does one borrow and learn the virtue of others when entirely surrounded by people with the same deficits?

    Welfare dependency culture was a mass disaster mostly because it robbed the recipient of the virtues and habits that are the essence of self-reliant freedom wherever such qualities exist. Fostering virtue, plugging the holes in the moral hull, and creating hope instead of wishes is what a healthy society is supposed to do. 

    Today I helped some people fill out forms to expunge various charges and convictions in their criminal records. The serious stuff stays but at least a lot of the mickey mouse stuff and the fact of dismissed charges can be expunged which can greatly shorten the list and maybe lessen the bad impression. It made me think about the personal formation for so many who are habitually unable to function socially. Where the hell were the functioning adults that needed to form and shape that kid when it mattered? How did we build communities where committing arrestable offenses is considered normal, where rudimentary self-control and common sense are foreign? Achieving self-reliance usually first requires a lot of dependence on the virtues, habits, support, and example of adults who have it.

    • #9
    • November 17, 2020, at 12:40 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  10. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    Flicker (View Comment):

    Flo was also a hypochondriac who took to her bed for, what, the last forty years of her life?, and conducted interviews with people at her bed side.

    What does that say about her not making excuses 🙄–her hypochondria or her interviewing people from bed?

    • #10
    • November 17, 2020, at 12:42 PM PST
    • Like
  11. Flicker Coolidge

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Flicker (View Comment):

    Flo was also a hypochondriac who took to her bed for, what, the last forty years of her life?, and conducted interviews with people at her bed side.

    What does that say about her not making excuses 🙄–her hypochondria or her interviewing people from bed?

    She made grand excuses, and held court from her bedside. The excuse was, I am unidentifiably diffusely sick.

    • #11
    • November 17, 2020, at 12:47 PM PST
    • Like
  12. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    Old Bathos (View Comment):

    More than once I have been in the position of having to depend on others without whose aid I would probably be dead or living badly. I am thus constrained from pontificating about the virtues of self-reliance.

    There are some requisite nuances here. It is never all right to quit on life, to blame others or fate or God for outcomes that were within one’s power to have changed, But it is also never wrong to seek help or admit to failings that require assistance to overcome. Self-reliance requires some brutal honesty about the ole self’s strengths and limitations.

    I was somewhat annoyed with Romney’s 2004 comments about being resigned to lose the 49% that will never vote GOP and his stock speeches about the glories of entrepreneurship. For a hell of a lot of people who would like very much to be self-reliant in the minimal bill-paying meaning of the word but can’t find or see or even hope for a path to that state of affairs, it is not enough to point out the obvious benefits of what they don’t have in the way of virtues and habits. How do they get there? How does one borrow and learn the virtue of others when entirely surrounded by people with the same deficits?

    Welfare dependency culture was a mass disaster mostly because it robbed the recipient of the virtues and habits that are the essence of self-reliant freedom wherever such qualities exist. Fostering virtue, plugging the holes in the moral hull, and creating hope instead of wishes is what a healthy society is supposed to do.

    Today I helped some people fill out forms to expunge various charges and convictions in their criminal records. The serious stuff stays but at least a lot of the mickey mouse stuff and the fact of dismissed charges can be expunged which can greatly shorten the list and maybe lessen the bad impression. It made me think about the personal formation for so many who are habitually unable to function socially. Where the hell were the functioning adults that needed to form and shape that kid when it mattered? How did we build communities where committing arrestable offenses is considered normal, where rudimentary self-control and common sense are foreign? Achieving self-reliance usually first requires a lot of dependence on the virtues, habits, support, and example of adults who have it.

    A powerful and touching comment, @oldbathos, about the debilitating circumstances we can find ourselves in, and the difference between justifiably asking for help and simply making excuses. Thanks.

    • #12
    • November 17, 2020, at 12:51 PM PST
    • Like
  13. kedavis Member

    Years ago, I recorded a movie from Sony Movie Channel called “Florence Nightingale,” it was very good, and informative.

    I think it was the 2008 BBC production, not the 1985 TV movie starring Jaclyn Smith. But I could be wrong about that. What sticks with me are some scenes where Florence discovers soldiers are dying from infections resulting from what amounts to a cesspool or septic tank of filth in the “basement” of the building where soldiers are being treated.

    I still have the recording, but I don’t have easy access to the hard drive that it’s stored on. One of these days I need to dig it out and watch it again.

    • #13
    • November 17, 2020, at 2:10 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  14. MichaelKennedy Coolidge

    Flicker (View Comment):

    Flo was also a hypochondriac who took to her bed for, what, the last forty years of her life?, and conducted interviews with people at her bed side.

    Yes, she was a typical Victorian female who had refused suitors and whose family was very rich. Her great accomplishments were in her early life. I have been to the museum dedicated to her in London.

    • #14
    • November 17, 2020, at 3:05 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  15. MichaelKennedy Coolidge

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Years ago, I recorded a movie from Sony Movie Channel called “Florence Nightingale,” it was very good, and informative.

    I think it was the 2008 BBC production, not the 1985 TV movie starring Jaclyn Smith. But I could be wrong about that. What sticks with me are some scenes where Florence discovers soldiers are dying from infections resulting from what amounts to a cesspool or septic tank of filth in the “basement” of the building where soldiers are being treated.

    I still have the recording, but I don’t have easy access to the hard drive that it’s stored on. One of these days I need to dig it out and watch it again.

    When she arrived at the Scutari Barracks, she found a dead horse in the well they drew their water from.

    That is her desk in the museum in the Scutari Barracks in Istanbul.

    • #15
    • November 17, 2020, at 3:14 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  16. CACrabtree Coolidge

    Today, accountability means not one thing. How many times have we seen total fiascos by governments, at all levels, and the (supposed) person in charge will stand before the cameras and bravely say that, “I take full responsibility for the screw-up”. (My personal favorite was Janet Reno after the Waco catastrophe.)

    At that point, do they resign? Ummm…No. They simply go back to their offices and continue in their sorry “careers”.

    I don’t know which is worse; a statement such as the one above, which means nothing or abject silence. Both are signs of uncaring incompetence and both are reprehensible.

    • #16
    • November 19, 2020, at 7:50 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  17. Percival Thatcher
    Percival Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    CACrabtree (View Comment):

    Today, accountability means not one thing. How many times have we seen total fiascos by governments, at all levels, and the (supposed) person in charge will stand before the cameras and bravely say that, “I take full responsibility for the screw-up”. (My personal favorite was Janet Reno after the Waco catastrophe.)

    At that point, do they resign? Ummm…No. They simply go back to their offices and continue in their sorry “careers”.

    I don’t know which is worse; a statement such as the one above, which means nothing or abject silence. Both are signs of uncaring incompetence and both are reprehensible.

    When the Falklands were invaded, John Nott (the Minister of Defense) and Peter Carrington (the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs) both took full responsibility and tendered their resignations. Carrington’s was accepted, Nott’s was not.

    Of all the traditions that we have chosen to adopt, that is the one that we haven’t that I like the most.

    • #17
    • November 19, 2020, at 8:01 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  18. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    CACrabtree (View Comment):
    I don’t know which is worse; a statement such as the one above, which means nothing or abject silence. Both are signs of uncaring incompetence and both are reprehensible.

    In government, the list is endless, @cacrabtree. Both types are abominable.

    • #18
    • November 19, 2020, at 10:32 AM PST
    • 1 like
  19. TBA Coolidge
    TBA

    Percival (View Comment):

    CACrabtree (View Comment):

    Today, accountability means not one thing. How many times have we seen total fiascos by governments, at all levels, and the (supposed) person in charge will stand before the cameras and bravely say that, “I take full responsibility for the screw-up”. (My personal favorite was Janet Reno after the Waco catastrophe.)

    At that point, do they resign? Ummm…No. They simply go back to their offices and continue in their sorry “careers”.

    I don’t know which is worse; a statement such as the one above, which means nothing or abject silence. Both are signs of uncaring incompetence and both are reprehensible.

    When the Falklands were invaded, John Nott (the Minister of Defense) and Peter Carrington (the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs) both took full responsibility and tendered their resignations. Carrington’s was accepted, Nott’s was not.

    Of all the traditions that we have chosen to adopt, that is the one that we haven’t that I like the most.

    The Romans knew how to accept full responsibility. 

    • #19
    • November 19, 2020, at 11:26 AM PST
    • 3 likes