005 The Science of excuses – Cognitive Dissonance

As you may have seen it in the headline we will be discussing the science of excuses. The scientific term would is cognitive dissonance. The official definition of cognitive dissonance is: the emotional tension that arises when a person becomes aware of simultaneously holding two conflicting beliefs or when an individual detects the existence of a lack of consistency between attitudes and behaviors.

That was the scientific, long definition. So it’s when you’re doing something that, internally you do not agree with. A good example is purchasing a new car that is not fuel efficient, but at the same time, believing yourself to be a very environmentally conscious person. Cognitive dissonance causes us to have emotional discomfort and confusion. There are three ways to resolve cognitive dissonance. The first way is to change your behaviour; the second is to change or justify your view; the third way is to add a new thought.

"Cognitive dissonance causes us to have emotional discomfort and confusion."

Human beings are designed around feeling comfortable and positive, so when you feel that internal confusion or angst, you want to resolve it in the quickest way possible.

This is usually how every good excuse is made. The beast of the excuse is that it happens in your own brains. Usually you see this with New Year Resolutions. It’s unrealistic to decide to run a marathon in June when you just started training in January! People start to make excuses and that’s why you get to next year not having achieved what you set out to achieve. So how do we get around it? You have to stay true to your ideals and your goals. Hold yourself accountable to what you want to do! One way to do is by writing your goals down.  When you put something on paper and you can visualize it, it’s concrete. We do the same in the Leadership Stars program during our 6 O’Club, which is a call the first Monday of the month.

"You only have one life, and you can either be driven by excuses or you can become successful."

You only have one life, and you can either be driven by excuses or you can become successful.  A good thing is to find a social crutch, such as someone that’s as passionate about something as you are. Someone like a friend or a coach that holds you accountable, as an external motivation. You need someone to push you out of your own comfort zone!  

You need to prioritize whatever your goal is and work at it as hard as if there was someone behind you watching. A great quote is: “When the small things matter as much as that last goal, that’s when you will achieve success.” Never settle for good enough. Good enough is almost an oxymoron, because good is a positive, enough is a negative. If something is good enough. It is, by definition, not enough.  What do you want to be? Do you want to be as average as your surrounding? Then this podcast is not for you. Stand out and do your thing and have an awesome life!

Stay in lead!



Good morning, good afternoon and good evening, whenever you listen to this. Welcome to the the Live IT Lead IT podcast.
I’m your host, Olaf Kapinski and I have Musaab with me as well.
How are you? Very good.
We have an interesting topic today.
As you may have seen it in the headline , it is the science off excuses. Everybody hates it My coaches hated especially when they explained why they don’t do what they know they should do.
And then I called it an excuse, they said “No Olaf, you must understand. This is a not an excuse.” And now we have the professional here. Musaab. You’re a psychologist. 

I am. 

And give us the give us the science behind excuses. 

So we’re talking about excuses, but the scientific term would be cognitive dissonance.
Next time, when you excuse yourself, then you just say “I’m cognitively dissonizing.”

That’s not a word. Okay let’s start with the definition. I think that’s better.
So cognitive dissonance is the emotional tension that arises when a person becomes aware of simultaneously holding two conflicting beliefs or,
when that individual detects the existence of a lack of consistency between attitudes and behaviors.
So that was science.  Long definition.
Basically, it’s when you’re doing something that internally you do not agree with.

Can you give us a very straight example?

A very straightforward example is purchasing a new car that is not fuel efficient, but at the same time,
you believe yourself to be a very environmentally conscious person.
Let’s go to into this one. I call myself environmental, I have an eye on green, and I just just do all of these things.

But I go to my Dodge Dealer to stick to this American example. When it comes to useless cars, I like the very, very big ones which they have over there. 


So here it is, the new shiny Dodge Ram with this heavy metal motor inside, and it just burned 17 liters minimum.
Yes. So why would I do this? I mean, I’m our environmentally conscious. And then I go there and I buy it. Why?

Well, here’s the thing. Cognitive dissonance causes us to have emotional discomfort.
So the minute you realize that I really want that car internally, you’re like, “Wait a minute.
This bad boy’s gonna take up a lot of gas. It takes up a lot of road for one person and it’s not really necessary.”
So there are three ways to resolve cognitive dissonance.
The first way is to change your behavior. So you say “No, I’m not gonna get that Dodge Ram.
I’m going to stay with my little electric car.” I go Tesla for example.

The second is to change or justify your view.
Now, I’m not saying anything as drastic as suddenly you don’t care about the environment.
But you say, “Well, I can get the car, but instead I’ll be more efficient with wasting water.
I’ll be, you know, I’ll be more careful leaving the lights off.
I’ll find a way to make up for that.” So you kind of justify your view to plant a tree for instance.
Or the third way is to add a new new cognition, or a new thought, and new viewpoint.

So maybe you  say “You know what? I don’t think the environments that bad. It’s only one car.

Even if I don’t get a car, someone else is going to get it. Might as well.”
So those are the three different ways that you can resolve that and avoid feeling that discomfort or internal confusion.
So we’re talking about a quick and instant thought process. 
So the dealer guy just puts the contract right in front of us and hands us the pen.
Almost instantly, you’re gonna gonna have these thoughts. Human beings are designed around feeling comfortable, feeling positive, feeling good.
So when you feel that internal confusion or angst, you want to resolve it in the quickest way possible. So those three ways are: 1) you can change your behavior. 2) You can change your view. 3) You can add a new view.

This brings it to the point. This is usually how every good excuse is made. The beast of the excuse is that it happens in your own brains. Usually you don’t see this.
So let’s take another example, my famous sports example.
We are recording this at the end of November, so New Year is coming, and lots of people are still making these New Year Resolutions. “I want to change my life in the next year. And 2020 willbe this and that.” 

I mean, it’s quite stupid to say that in January, especially when you just started running, that you will do a marathon in June.
The next morning you wake up over motivated, and then it starts.
And you see it not as an excuse but an explanation. And you believe it’s a valid explanation! This is the demon behind it.
You see your shoes and then the excuse comes.  “Oh, it’s quite cold. I want to get healthy, but if I run outside, in minus 10 degrees, then I’ll be off sick for a week.”
That’s not worth the price the demon takes right. That’s a very good one.
Also a good one is, “Well, January 1st is on a Tuesday.
There’s no possible way I can start a fitness regime on a Tuesday.

I’m gonna start the next Monday. ” Then next Monday nothing happens. 

When Sunday comes around, your co-worker says, “Hey, let’s, uh, go out. Let’s get a pizza. Let’s go drink beer.” Whatever.

And so Monday comes over and you have a report due and you went out yesterday. You’re gonna do it. So, look, the best thing to do would be to start next Monday, right?
And then all of a sudden, it’s January 15th again. You can’t start something in the middle of January. Let’s just aim for February.
And that’s why you get to next year not having achieved what you set out to achieve.
Exactly. But that was not an excuse, you need to understand that was an explanation.
This is how the life works. So how do we get around it?

Well, so you kind of have to stop yourself and stay true to your ideals. Stay true to your goals. Hold yourself accountable to what you want to do.

If we go back to the car example, saying that you will plant a tree or something, you’re almost sabotaging yourself. You’re sabotaging your ideals by listening to these excuses.
No matter how good they are, you’re not getting to your goal.
So a very good way to accomplish your goal is by writing it down. 
When you put something on paper and you can visualize it, it’s concrete. It’s real.
It’s a way to hold yourself accountable. Have you used anything like that in the past? Absolutely. Yeah. I think there are a lot of programs that require you to hold yourself accountable, not just to yourself but also to others.

We do the same in the Leadership Stars program.

We make participants write down what they want, to make a visual.
And then we have this 6 O’Club, which is a call the first Monday of the month.
And then it’s reporting time. And I’m not letting you off with these lame excuses!
So, visualizing is the one thing I love.
I would even add prioritizing because this is your life.
The name of the podcast is Live IT Lead IT. 
You only have one life, and you can either be driven by excuses or you can become successful.
How do you do that? What drives you?

So a good thing is to find a social crutch, such as  someone that’s as passionate about something as you are.
Having a friend, having a mentor or a coach, someone that holds you accountable, as an external motivation.
Because no matter how strong you are, you can ask the fittest person the best athlete in the planet. There are days when you “don’t feel like it.”
And when you have someone to push you out of your own comfort zone and make you do it.

That is a really good way to kind of give yourself that boost that you need. How do you do it on all the other days?
On all the other days, you need to find it within yourself to realize that you’re not always going to feel like doing something.

So let me ask you this, listeners: there are some days when you don’t feel like going to work.
But 99% of the time you end up going to work.
Why? Because you say, “Well, I get paid, right? This is my my livelihood. Right?”
So you need to prioritize whatever your goal is: to be more successful work or to be more successful in health, to change your diet or to eat a certain way or to do something.
Whatever that goal is, you need to find a way to prioritize that. And work at it as hard as if there was someone behind you watching as as if there’s someone requiring you to go into that office, gym, or that healthy restaurant. It’s something that should provide you with as much fire and motivation as “Hey, I have to go to work to get a paycheck.”

Let’s go back to the to your objectives. I think it’s not about going to the gym. This is about next summer when you are on the beach and all of these ladies or boys, whatever you prefer, or what gender you are.

And they are openly looking at you. They’re staring at you!
This is what this is about. If you focus only on the next push-up or on the muscle pain afterwards you will not make it.
Push yourself out of the comfort zone.
You only go into the gym for the last push-up. This to one that counts!
This is the one that hurts.
Just visualize your goal. Visualize your biceps, in this example.

Yeah, well, let’s go back to the car example. Visualize how this car either depending on your belief system, kills nature or the environment.

I think a great quote is: “When the small things matter as much as that last goal, that’s when you will achieve success.” Meaning that last push-up is as important as, for example, winning atrophy in bodybuilding, that’s when you’re going to get to that elite level. Most people never do that.
For example, reading is very important in terms of bettering yourself. I set a goal to read four books a month.
Three is good enough. 

Good enough is almost an oxymoron, because good is a positive, enough is a negative. If something is good enough.

It is, by definition, not enough. 
What do you want to be? Do you want to be as average as your surrounding?
Then switch off this podcast. This is not for you.
Or do you want to just stand out and do your thing and want to be awesome and live cool life? So Musaab has given you the science behind excuses.
One last thought. Yes, you can start a diet. You can start a nutrition change at the third of December. 
This is not impossible.
The point is do you want it? What do you want to achieve? Or do you only see things negatively?

There is no reason for not starting things on  a Tuesday. It’s only in your brain. So slay your demons. These demons are are evil beasts, because they know you.
So whatever drives you into the wrong direction and doesn’t support what you want to have, leave it. 
Great. Thanks so much for explanations on this one!  Have a good one. Bye.