QBQ! The Question Behind the Question: Practicing Personal Accountability at Work and in Life by John Miller

  • How do we ask more personally accountable questions of ourselves?
  • “Why” “Who” “When” are bad ways to start questions. Negative — IQ = Incorrect Questions since nothing positive comes from it
  • Opposite of personal accountability; something or someone else is responsible for the problem or situation
  • What can I do to make a difference? How can I support the team? “I” important
  • QBQ: A tool that enables individuals to practice personal accountability by making better choices in the moment.
  • We are accountable for our own decisions and are free to make better ones
  • We always have a choice
  • First reactions are usually negative
  • We need to ask better questions to get better answers; QBQ’s are questions we ask ourselves
  • Begin with “What” or “How” and contain “I”; focus on action
  • What can I do?
  • “Why” questions = poor me, pity party
  • Need to eliminate victim thinking
  • How can I do my job better today? What can I do to improve the situation? How can I support others?
  • When I play victim, who I am serving? No one
  • We always choose our own response; stress is a choice and the result of our choices
  • If a strategy or tactic is working now, odds are it won’t work in the future — too much change taking place in the world to stand pat; how can I adapt to the changing world?
  • Effective communication is about understanding the other person — what can I do to become a better listener, how can I understand others?
  • “When” questions lead to procrastination, which means time lost; procrastination increases stress and is costly — what solution can I provide?
  • Procrastination is the friend of failure; I’ll do it later thinking is costly, take care of the little things while they are still little
  • Creativity is succeeding WITHIN the box — hitting targets, reaching goals
  • Let’s succeed within the box; how can I succeed with the resources I already have?
  • Practice the fundamentals day in and day out
  • Don’t ask “who”, this just looks for scapegoats, creates fear, destroys innovation and prevent people from engaging
  • Accountable people look for solutions, not scapegoats — what could I have done differently? how can I learn from this experience?
  • We’re all on the same team; if you want to win, you need to be good enough to beat the ref (can’t blame the ref for losing)
  • Don’t focus on barriers, work to become so good that we’ll succeed no matter how many bad calls come your way (dammit Ohio State!!!)
  • “what can I do right now to make a difference?” personal accountability changes the world one choice at a time (the book is largely about personal accountability and practicing it in your work and life, and all of the tips aim towards it)
  • Ownership — a commitment of the head, heart and hands to fix the problem and never affix the blame
  • How can I appreciate people’s gifts and strengths just as they are?
  • It begins with me — personal accountability is not about holding others accountable — teams are based on individuals and successful teams are based on individuals who practice personal accountability
  • Don’t ask what can we do; ask what can I do — if each member of the team does that the team can move forward
  • We only have real control over our own thoughts and actions
  • Managers don’t change people — change only comes from the inside, as a result of decisions made by the individual — let’s mold our own thoughts and actions as opposed to others
  • Integrity — being what I say I am by acting in accordance with my words
  • At your job, believe or leave — if an organization is no longer helping you reach your goals, why stay?
  • Teams don’t change; people change, one at a time
  • Modeling is the most powerful of all teachers
  • QBQ’s focus on ACTION — what can I do right now? how will i make a difference today?
  • Doing nothing is risky; inaction is almost never a better choice
  • Action leads to solutions, brings learning and growth, builds confidence, courage, moves us forward
  • Leadership is about the way we think — practicing personal accountability, choosing to make a positive contribution
  • Servant leadership — humility
  • Don’t do other people’s work for them (I have a hard time with this)
  • How can I be a more effective coach? What can I do to understand each person I manage? how can I build a stronger team (business)
  • Executive — how can I be a better leader? what can I do to show I care? How can I communicate more effectively?
  • Employee — what can i do to be more productive? how can I adapt to the changing environment? what can i do to help myself? how can i become more engaged?
  • Parent — how can I get to know him better? what can I do to help her get through these tough years? how can I improve my parenting skills?
  • Spouse — how can I improve myself today? what can i do to help him out? how can i listen to him more?
  • QBQ — “what” “how” (not “why” “when”) — Use an “I” — no more victim thinking, complaining, blaming, procrastinating
  • I can only change me; take action!
  • asking better questions of ourselves
  • Daily, moment to moment practice of avoiding incorrect questions and asking QBQ’s instead
  • Learning is about changing — learning equals change
  • Repetition is the motor of learning
  • Hold ourselves accountable — how can I let go of what I can’t control? modeling!
  • A person’s thoughts and behaviors are always the result of the choices they make
  • Managers model personal accountability — my job to keep the QBQ alive
  • Organizations made up of individuals and outstanding organizations are created by individuals doing outstanding things



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Adam Marks

Adam Marks

I love books, I have a ton of them, and I take notes on all of them. I wanted to share all that I have learned and will continue to learn. I hope you enjoy.