I just finished “QBQ” by John G. Miller. QBQ stands for the question behind the question. The book is about personal accountability at work and at home. The author raises some great insights and forces you to look at yourself a bit differently. I can see now that there are folks in my life that are “blamers” and “finger pointers” and then there are those who “fall on the sword”. I think about a man from my past, we’ll refer to him as “Charlie Sheen” to maintain anonymity (and at the off chance he might actually read a blog post on personal accountability).
Any way, Charlie has never, in my recollection, ever viewed the world as something he worked upon (and on) but rather he was always on the losing end of what life threw at him. He wouldn’t get the promotion because Suzy stole/took it from him, he was late because of some old lady in a big Cadillac, his fourth marriage ended because “she” cheated on him.
Charlie is the antithesis of personal accountability. Always the victim. Never an apology. Never owning up to a mistake. Never a deep dive into the cause. Never looking in the mirror. John G. Miller has some great tips on how to look into the mirror and start with you.
Here is my take:
- Change. It always starts with ourselves. This is difficult for me to wrap my head around with a teenage son. He has never been neat. He rarely goes to bed before 2 AM. He is in college some 3 states away and I, as much as I would like to change him, I cannot What I can do is change the way I look at it. To make my bed in the morning, to put the dishes away, to go to bed by 9:30 and to keep my desk clear. I need to be the change (not him…although if he’s reading this, it would be nice (-:).
- Ditch “Why”. As Miller suggests stay focused on What or How. Going to “Why does this always happen to me” makes you into a victim. Think – “What can I do to make this better?” or “How can I change the outcome here?”. Take responsibility for the solution and go with it. Turn off the “poor me” attitude and look for ways to “own it” instead. Dump the “why”.
- Start with “I”. Miller talks about a speech a leader of an organization gave that started off with “Personal accountability starts with YOU”. Oops. Wrong answer (not sure? go back to number #1). I need to make the change. I can start a committee to do a deep dive into the widget defect problem. I can turn my reports in early. It all starts with “me”.
- Action. Take a step. I’ve been recuperating from surgery and have been extremely inactive for the last six weeks (doctor’s orders). Well, I finally went for a walk yesterday. I only walked a mile, but I took the first step. No one can do that for you. Even watching the Olympics next month will not help get me back in shape. [I wish] Set up the meeting, make an appointment, sit down and write for 30 minutes, apply for that job. Take action.
- Solver. Bring solutions and not problems. Or at least, if you have a problem, if you take it to your boss, take a solution or two as well. As a leader, when all someone does is bring problems to your attention without any solutions…it is exasperating. Be the solution.
- Think. The only way you can come up with new ideas is to think. Reflect. Take some time to observe the problem. A recent client of mine called it “Being the Observer”. Instead of having a knee jerk reaction, or get on the defensive, he gave himself the buffer of observing what was going on. Thinking is the only way to build new neuropathways. Hence new ideas. Take some time to think.
These are just a few ideas on how to be more personally responsible. I’d love to know what ideas you have.
Leave a comment. How do you take personal responsibility?