The Elrod Firm


Fishin’ for an Excuse

Benjamin Franklin tells an interesting and insightful story in his autobiography about a voyage he took from Boston back to England when he was a young man.  At this time in his life, he was a vegetarian, but the crew of the ship on which he was traveling hauled in a large number of cod and prepared a significant feast, putting Franklin in a difficult position.  He recalls:


Hitherto I had stuck to my resolution of not eating animal food, and on this occasion I consider’d, with my master Tryon, the taking every fish as a kind of unprovoked murder, since none of them had, or ever could do us any injury that might justify the slaughter.  All this seemed very reasonable.  But I had formerly been a great lover of fish, and, when this came hot out of the frying-pan, it smelt admirably well.  I balanc’d some time between principle and inclination, till I recollected that, when the fish were opened, I saw smaller fish taken out of their stomachs; then thought I, “If you eat one another, I don’t see why we mayn’t eat you.”  So I din’d  upon cod very heartily, and continued to eat with other people, returning only now and then occasionally to a vegetarian diet.  So convenient a thing it is to be a reasonable creature, since it enables one to find or make a reason for every thing one has a mind to do.


Even though the rest of us may not be as smart as Benjamin Franklin, we can usually come up with a reason to justify almost anything we are inclined to do (or not do).  I meet with clients every week who had previously put off extremely important planning matters, and they always seemed to have good “reasons” for their delays.  Keep in mind Franklin’s realization when making big (and small) decisions, and don’t let yourself make excuses for putting off things you know you should be handling.

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