Excusitis – The Magic of Thinking Big

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Ed. note – Been a while since I did a book review around here.  Although this isn’t a proper review of the entire book, I don’t know if I could recommend this book more highly if I spent 2000 words detailing every chapter.  You really should pick it up if you’ve not read it before.

Re-reading through one of my all-time favorite books of any genre (let alone self-improvement), The Magic of Thinking Big, by Dr. David Schwartz. I’d like to highlight a little of what he’s talking about in Chap. 2, just to give you a taste of some of the topics he covers. Though this is an older book (first published in 1959), the principles are timeless.

He mentions four reasons that people allow themselves to be defeated in the pursuit of their dreams, terming them different forms of the killer disease excusitis. These four are:

1. Health

2. Intelligence

3. Age

4. Luck


We’ve all met someone who’s constantly bemoaning the state of their ingrown toenails, the air quality, the pollen count, their fair skin that’s subject to burning, etc. etc. These people are probably in generally good health, but they allow themselves to think their way into every imaginable ailment known to human kind.

What’s worse, these are the same people who will pass on this habit to their unfortunate, impressionable children. The kids don’t have a chance; they’ll grow up to be as big, if not bigger, hypochondriacs than their parents were.  Most of us could come up with examples of this from our own personal experience.

I realize that there are genuine health challenges that certain people face. However, there are those individuals (such as Mark Zupan, the inspiring paralympian from the documentary film, Murderball) who face greater limitations to their ability to function in society than most of us will ever dream. These people don’t waste time pitying themselves; they go out and find ways to circumvent their challenges and thrive and achieve at the highest levels of society.

Helen Keller, anyone?


There are very few people willing to publicly admit that they feel intellectually inferior to their peers. However, there are many who harbor these thoughts privately.

The truth is, a few points on an IQ test matter very little (and can often be a hindrance).

What’s crucial to success is not having all the answers, but a commitment to success itself. As long as you won’t give up, you can encounter as many learning opportunities as you can stomach.  Very often, those with a high IQ (and are aware of it) suffer from analysis paralysis or the habit of waiting for the “perfect time” to begin a new endeavor. Sadly, that time never comes.


Age is viewed as a hindrance not only by the old, but by the young. Some of our more mature readers should always remind themselves of the story of Ray Kroc (founder of McDonalds), who didn’t buy his restaurant from the McDonald brothers until well into his 50’s.

Consider this: a typical college graduate enters the workforce at 22, and the most successful leaders of companies and organizations will typically work well into their 70’s. This leaves a span of over 50 years to accomplish something in the business world truly worthy of the word success. A person really doesn’t even hit the midpoint of his or her effective working life until they’re around 50 years of age! Maybe this causes some of you to shudder (it certainly does me), but it’s true.


Finally, luck. I believe luck is like Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny; only the very young or the sorely misinformed believe in it.

I’ve heard, as I’m sure you have, that luck is where opportunity and preparedness meet. If you’re ready for the opportunities that come your way, you’ll be one of the luckiest people around, and people will envy how you always seem to land on your feet. Be always ready through constant application of your current skills and the never-ending effort to gain new ones, and luck will find you.

These are the four strains of excusitis. If you think you may be suffering from this malady, try the following exercise.  Make a conscious effort to pay attention to what you say at all times for the next week, and see if you catch yourself making excuses for why you can’t accomplish what others seem to do easily.

If you catch yourself making excuses, replace them  with affirmations. Instead of telling yourself why you can’t do something, start telling yourself ways that you can.

For me personally, I have a big case of luck excusitis.  What about you?  What kinds of excuses do you find yourself offering?  Why do we feel like we have to justify ourselves?  Any thoughts on how to end that need?  Share them in the comments…

4 thoughts on “Excusitis – The Magic of Thinking Big”

  1. Hey Jason, I'll have to check out the book, I haven't read it yet. I like the idea about intelligence; it is so true that it is often not the most intelligent person who scores the A's, gets the promotions, or has the most success. Everyone who will ever read this post has more than enough intelligence to get the job done, perserverance is what most of us lack.

  2. As for the luck, Richard Wiseman after studying it for many years came to conclusion that it can be learned. Read his "Luck factor" for more info.

  3. Yeah, I have got to get this… on the to do list for this week.

    I'll have to echo the point on luck: someone asked me this week what I would do if I didn't have luck on my side with the a couple things that went fantastic last week. I had to laugh, I'm lately discrediting luck. I believe that when one looks for opportunities, one finds them – observers often call it luck… and hardships turn into moments to test acquired problem solving skills and tweak the weak points.

    Good stuff Jason, I'll be reading.

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