The 2nd Best Phrase You Can Say
“That does help explain your actions, but it does nothing to excuse them.”
Today’s phrase may not be something you’ve ever heard, much less something you’ve ever said. But in my experience, it’s the best way to make sense of people’s past actions and help everyone find a better future.
Remember the Tiger Woods adultery scandal from a few years ago? He was found engaging in numerous extra-marital affairs, and eventually divorced.
He also went to treatment for his compulsive sexual behavior. When most media reported this, people threw around terms like “sex addiction” and “illness.” Scores of people made jokes and comments about him using his “illness” as an excuse for his terrible behavior.
What the world needed was today’s phrase. Tiger’s struggle with compulsivity was something borne out of a complex arrangement of his upbringing, his unprecedented fame, his biochemistry, his marriage, and a million small choices he made along the way. In order for him to heal, and change his behavior, he needed to understand all of those factors and how they affect him.
All of those factors helped explain his behavior. But none of those factors excused it. He is still 100% guilty for his behavior—no one caused him to do anything. But learning to understand everything that led his brain to choose such destructive behavior is the only way to change it.
Same thing with each of us, and with everyone we love and lead. When you ask your kid, or your employee, or your spouse, “Why did you do that?” you may think whatever they give you is an excuse. And they may try to use it that way. That’s when this phrase is so amazingly helpful. It gives you a chance to be understanding, while holding them accountable, at the same time.
Just watch out—start using this on others and they’ll start using it on you (which is a good thing).
Peace begins with pause,