Excuses, excuses, excuses

Since childhood we have been thoroughly trained in making excuses, haven't we? We're so good at it. We always downplay our failures and try to convince ourselves that we couldn't do anything about it. It's always them who made us fail, right?

Wrong! If we run a project, we took the responsibility to deliver and if we don't deliver at the FatalDay, any excuse is in vain: we failed. Even if we "couldn't do anything about it", because probably we could have done much more about it than we dare to admit. Anyway, we could have predicted our failure way earlier, and every day we see a problem earlier, we have a day more to do something about it. We could escalate to let others do something about it. We could explain why it is simply impossible and what we could do about that. Ultimately, we can give back our responsibility.

Failure is a very hard word and most people don't like it. That's exactly why we use it! No pain, no gain. If people don't feel any pain, there is no reason to do something about it.
In projects it's important never to say "You failed". Always use "We failed". After all, if someone fails, we didn't help the person enough not to fail (note: this advice is also meant for management!). The person himself of course may feel "I failed", which can help him to learn to improve.