No Excuses

Nationality: Indian, American

Primary Language: English

Other language(s): N/A

Age: 19 yrs

Occupation: Student

Residence: Frisco, Texas

Performance Date: 2/1/2024


“Yeah so when I was a young kid, like I don’t know, 10 or 11, I was told by my grandfather that I needed to be serious about tennis and couldn’t slack off. My parents would repeat the same things he did, making me kind of fear being a slacker in a competitive sense. My grandfather said to me then: ‘He who cannot dance puts the blame on the floor,’ and it stuck with me. He told me it basically meant that even if I lost, the only one to blame for being bad at the game was me. It made me perform better but at a cost, a fear of failure type thing.”


My informant, PL, is a friend of mine from my freshman year at USC from Frisco Texas. I recall one day in second semester freshman year we were talking about tennis, a sport he used to play at a near professional level and won state championships for. We were waiting for an open spot to play pickle-ball down by the tennis courts and I asked him about his past in tennis as he mentioned he played it before, but I had no idea how personal it was to him or to what extent. That was until I questioned him about it later in time and asked him why he stuck with tennis, because he currently keeps describing tennis in the worst possible light. He then told me about a Hindu proverb that was told to him by his grandfather when he was growing up and learning tennis. He said that this proverb and the concept behind it was drilled into his head forever afterwards, pushing him to keep going, to keep trying to be the best, no excuses held or told, no slacking off in a competition. This made him feel a sort of resentment for the sport and the rigorous training he did and endured to effectively ascend the ranks with tennis pros.


PL said this was a proverb his grandfather told him and which his parents sometimes regurgitate, so clearly it is generational. I did some research about this proverb and ended up finding out that it was originally an African proverb but was adapted by Hindu culture centuries ago. It basically means that people who are serious about something they are passionate about, make it happen, and those who are not, make excuses, and tend to put blame on something else rather than themselves when failing. PL is of Hindu cultural descent, so this proverb is not so well known in the modern world, but rather a generational and cultural saying which was a huge way of pushing children to do their best in certain aspects of life like sports. I personally don’t agree with the way it was used in PL’s life, how it was made to make him fear failure, but in a general sense, the proverb is logical. If you are genuinely serious about something you are working on, you shouldn’t and probably won’t make excuses about it if under-performing when faced with challenges and obstacles preventing you from continuing to pursue or achieve a passion and/or goal. I think it’s super interesting how deeply rooted this proverb is in Hindu culture, as PL’s grandfather was telling him this saying like he’s heard it forever. The influence it had over PL’s tennis career was great as well, so clearly the proverb is influential in a behavioral sense, and historical sense, as this proverb has seemingly been around for centuries.