I recommend taking time to explore John G. Miller’s book “QBQ! Wha to Really Ask Yourself: Practicing personal accountability in business and life“. This book aims to help eliminate blame, complaining, and procrastination and addresses what he feels is a major issue: the lack of personal accountability.
Miller writes that “Sometimes people think they have no choice. They’ll say things like, “I have to” or “I can’t.”
We always have a choice; always. Realizing this and taking responsibility for our choices is a big step toward making great things happen in our lives.”
Miller believes the mindset that brings personal accountability to life is take ownership of the situation, explore and question it to find a solution. He provides three simple guidelines for creating a QBQ:
- Begin with “What” or “How” (not “Why,” “When,” or Who”).
When we ask “When,” for example, we’re really saying we have no choice but to wait and put off action until another time. Questions that start with “When” lead to procrastination. Procrastination is a sneaky problem. We put off a problem until a little later, and then a little later, and then a little later, until before we know it we have put off action so long that we have a serious problem. Miller quotes a friend who likes to say: “Let’s take care of the little things while they’re still little.” When we ask “Who” we deflect to someone else and take the responsibility off of ourselves. We’re looking for scapegoats and someone else to blame.
- Contain an “I” (not “they,” “them,” “we” or “you”).
Personal accountability is about each of us holding ourselves accountable for our own thinking and behaviors and the results they produce. Blame and “whodunit” questions solve nothing. They create fear, destroy creativity and build walls. There’s not a chance we’ll reach our full potential until we stop blaming each other and start practicing personal accountability. No matter what we’re trying to accomplish, there’s always a barrier of some kind to overcome, and it’s often something over which we have no control. Instead of focusing on the barriers, let’s work to become so good that we’ll succeed no matter what. Who do accountable people blame? No one, not even themselves.
- Focus on action.
To make a QBQ action-focused, add verbs such as “do,” “make,” “achieve,” and “build” to questions that start with “What” or “How” and contain an “I.” This focus will create questions like these:
|“What can I do to help you do your job better?”
“What can I do to make a difference?”
“How can I support the team?”
“How can I help move this forward?”
“How can I provide value to you?”
|“What solution can I provide?”
“How can I do my job better today?”
“How can I improve and/or adapt to the situation?”
“How can I better understand you?”
“What can I do to find the information to make a decision?” “
Taking action may seem risky, but doing nothing is a bigger risk! Even though there are risks involved in taking action, the alternative, inaction, is almost never the better choice. Miller writes that:
- Action, even when it leads to mistakes, brings learning and growth. Inaction brings stagnation and atrophy.
- Action leads us toward solutions. Inaction at best does nothing and holds us in the past.
- Action requires courage. Inaction often indicates fear.
- Action builds confidence; inaction, doubt.
QBQ is the practice of personal accountability: We discipline our thoughts. We ask better questions. We take action.
Practice it…and may it serve you well.
How can you support your learning and growth?