The military and the athletic world are very similar communities. Both thrive on people being leaders by example and good team players. One thing that can stall progress of any team is when people fail to do what is required of them. Excuses soon follow the lack of effort and a quick disintegration of mission accomplishment occurs. However, one skill the military teaches is the ability to adjust and adapt to new issues unforeseen in planning. The reason: We do not make excuses.
In the military, one of the first things we learned in basic military training was the Five Basic Responses. When someone asks you a question that you should know, or about something you should have accomplished, you have five responses to choose from:
1 — the right answer
2 — yes sir / ma’am
3 — no sir / ma’am
4 — I’ll find out sir / ma’am
5 — no excuse sir /ma’am
The first three are self-explanatory, the last two are priceless to a member of any team. Answer number four is the best answer you can give if you do not know the answer to something. What you are implying by saying, “I’ll find out sir,” is not the more common answer, “ I don’t know”, but the “right answer” that will require you to do some research. It is hard to be lazy when you have a task to do that is important to accomplish. As leaders we have to make sure that every person is tasked to do something that is mission critical. On a sports team it could be as simple as making a block, but in the military it can be as critical as knowing the direction to travel to your target.
The last of the Five Basic Responses is “no excuse sir.” We are all human and we make mistakes, forget details, or arrive late, but instead of making up an excuse or developing an untrue story, simply let your leaders / coaches / teammates know that there is no excuse to your error. It is now your job to make sure it does not happen again and be just as forgiving the next time someone on your team makes a mistake when you are in charge one day.
Responsibility to your team / coaches / leaders becomes a habit when you start saying “no excuse or I’ll find out” to questions that your team needs answers to. You will also find that you will grow as a person on and off the field when you learn to step up and take responsibility for your actions.