Doubt comes in at the window when inquiry is denied at the door.

Benjamin Jowett – 1817-1893 – Tutor-Administrative Reformer University of Oxford

Did you know…

Did you know…

… that today is Career Home Run Day? On this day in 1935, Babe Ruth hit his last three career home runs — numbers 712, 713 and 714 — for the Boston Braves in a game against the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Pirates won, 11-7.


Today’s Inspirational Quote:

“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing — that’s why we recommend it daily.”

— Zig Ziglar

 Industrial scale and brittleness – by Seth Godin

 Industrial scale and brittleness [ ]

Look at that banana, just look at it.

Bananas are a modern miracle. They’re cheap, nutritious, and readily available.

And just about every banana you’ve ever eaten (if you live in the Northern Hemisphere) came from the same tree.

Not just a similar tree, the way oak trees are all similar to one another. The same exact tree, which was planted in a hothouse in England about a hundred and fifty years ago. The Cavendish banana tree (named after the family that’s now called the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire) is sterile. It has no seeds. The only way to grow one is to take a cutting from an existing tree and basically grow a clone.

Because the tree was optimized for yield and taste, we end up with plentiful, delicious, cheap bananas.

Until a blight arrives. And the virus that’s just around the corner is almost here, and it will wipe out every single Cavendish tree on Earth in just a few more years.

There have been real environmental side effects all along, but at scale, they become impossible to ignore.

Or consider the legal system in my country. It grew from a fairly informal and resilient (if not always fair) way to keep the peace and settle disputes into a behemoth, which combines the prison-industrial complex with a very expensive civil suit system that’s beneficial to many of the key players but ultimately insensitive to those that can’t use it to their advantage.

Check out Rohan Pavuluri’s new TED talk about bankruptcy, or Bryan Stevenson’s urgent talk on criminal justice.

People aren’t bananas, and the injustices that the legal system has created have always been shameful. But at scale, immense scale, they’re even worse.

Industrial scale seems to pay off. Until it doesn’t. And then it’s on us to change it, while there’s still time.

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The Marshall Goldsmith Newsletter


My mission is simple. I want to help successful people achieve positive, lasting change in behavior; for themselves, their people, and their teams. I want to help you make your life a little better. Thank you for subscribing! Life is good.

There is simply no excuse for making excuses at work – or anyplace else for that matter.

When you’re late to an appointment and you hear yourself saying, “I’m sorry I’m late but the traffic was murder,” stop at the word “sorry.” Blaming traffic doesn’t excuse the fact that you kept people waiting. You should have started earlier. You certainly won’t have to apologize for: “I’m sorry I’m early, but I left too soon and the traffic was moving along just fine.”

If the world worked like that, there would be no excuses.

I like to divide excuses into two categories: blunt and subtle.

The blunt, “dog ate my homework” excuse sounds something like this: “I’m very sorry I missed our lunch date. My assistant had it marked down for the wrong day on my calendar.”

Translation: “You see, it’s not that I forgot the lunch date. It’s not that I don’t regard you as so important that lunch with you is the unchangeable, non-negotiable highlight of my day. It’s just that my assistant is inept. Blame my assistant, not me.”

The problem with this type of excuse is that we rarely get away with it — and it’s hardly an effective leadership strategy. After reviewing thousands of 360-degree feedback summaries, I have a feel for what qualities direct reports respect and don’t respect in their leaders. I have never seen feedback that said, “I think you are a great leader because I love the quality of your excuses,” or, “I thought you screwed up, but you really changed my mind after you made that excuse.”

The more subtle excuses appear when we attribute our failings to some genetic characteristic that’s apparently lodged in our brains. We talk about ourselves as if we have permanent genetic flaws that can never be altered.

You’ve surely heard these excuses. Maybe you’ve even used a few of them: “I’m impatient.” “I always put things off until the last minute.” “I’ve always had a quick temper.”

Habitually, these expositional statements are followed by saying, “I’m sorry, but that’s just the way I am.”

It’s amazing how often I hear otherwise brilliant, successful people make willfully self-deprecating comments about themselves. It’s a subtle art because, in effect, they’re stereotyping themselves and using that to excuse otherwise inexcusable behavior.

Our personal stereotyping frequently comes from stories or preconceived notions about ourselves that have been preserved and repeated for years, sometimes going back as far as childhood. These stories may have little or no basis in fact. But they imprint themselves in our minds and establish low expectations that become self-fulfilling prophecies.

The next time you hear yourself saying, “I’m just no good at …” ask yourself, “Why not?”

This doesn’t just refer to our aptitudes at mathematics or mechanics. It also applies to our behavior. We excuse our tardiness because we’ve been running late all our lives, and our family, friends and colleagues let us get away with it. These aren’t genetic flaws. We weren’t born this way, and we don’t have to be this way.

If we can stop excusing ourselves, we can get better at almost anything we choose.

Life is good. Marshall.


  1. “Its more fun to think of the future than dwell on the past.”
    – Sara Shepard, Unbelievable
  2. “Give me the Love that leads the wayThe Faith that nothing can dismayThe Hope no disappointments tireThe Passion that’ll burn like fireLet me not sink to be a clodMake me Thy fuel, Flame of God”
    – Amy Carmichael

Cultural wisdom begets cozy temporary homes for the Nenets of the Siberian Arctic

Word of the Day

Olivaceousah-lə-VAY-shusPart of speech: adjectiveOrigin: Latin, 1770s
1Of a dusky yellowish green color; olive green.
Examples of Olivaceous in a sentence “Sometimes Kermit the Frog appears olivaceous, while other times he is a bright kelly green.” “The warbler was a dusky, olivaceous color.”

Did you know

Did you know…

… that today is Scavenger Hunt Day? A scavenger hunt is a game where individuals or teams compete to find items or perform tasks provided to them as a list by the organizers of the game. So, join in or organize one yourself! Trivia buffs: The word scavenger comes from the 14th-century English word scawageour, referring to officials that collected taxes.


Today’s Inspirational Quote:

“A failure is like fertilizer; it stinks to be sure, but it makes things grow faster in the future.”

— Denis Waitley