Excuses

Many students offer me excuses.  I am not interested.  I find them boring and I hate reading them.  Just as you are not interested in the excuses of your relatives, loved ones or colleagues when they disappoint you.  If you fail to do your assignments in a reasonable time, you are not letting ME down.  You are letting-down only yourself.  In my first letter to each student I always write words like this:

At the end of their courses I trust that my students say something like: “Simon was a tough tutor.  He never let me get away with anything.  He pointed out my tiniest mistakes.  He was relentless about spelling and grammar.  He constantly made me aware of how to keep on improving my writing.  Simon hated excuses and he never stopped reminding me how to be as professional as possible.  He was tough and critical, but he was positive, ready to praise, ready to help.  I have learned valuable knowledge and attitudes from Simon Townsend.”

This still doesn’t stop many students from telling me that they’re late because they’ve been busy.  We’re all busy.  My heartfelt advice is to NOT offer an excuse (or a “reason”).  Instead, offer me your plan about how you won’t be late again.  And keep in mind the best rule I give you:

Keep your promises to yourself

I encourage my students to “work at your own pace”.  But that doesn’t mean “fit it in when you feel like it”.  It means scheduling and setting your own strict deadlines.  Then you must stick to any deadline you set yourself.  It’s bad enough to break a promise to another person. It’s one of life’s big disasters when you break a promise to yourself.

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