Flipping The Switch...: Unleash The Power Of Personal Accountability Using The Qbq! by John G. MillerFlipping The Switch...: Unleash The Power Of Personal Accountability Using The Qbq! by John G. Miller

Flipping The Switch...: Unleash The Power Of Personal Accountability Using The Qbq!

byJohn G. Miller

Hardcover | December 29, 2005

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In his bestselling book QBQ! The Question Behind the Question, John G. Miller revealed how personal accountability helps to create opportunity, overcome obstacles, and achieve goals by eliminating blame, complaining, and procrastination. The result? Stronger organizations, more dynamic teams, and healthier relationships.

Now Miller takes readers to the next level to show how they can use the power of the QBQ! and personal accountability every day.

When a light switch is flipped the flow of energy that is released reaches the lightbulb in an instant, bringing it to life. Similarly, asking the right kind of question-a QBQ-is the first step to empowering what Miller calls the Advantage Principles-five essential practices that will lead to a richer experience in every aspect of life:

- LEARNING: live an engaged and energized life through positive personal growth and change
- OWNERSHIP: attain goals by becoming a solution-oriented person who solves problems
- CREATIVITY: find new ways to achieve by succeeding "within the box"
- SERVICE: build a legacy by helping others succeed
- TRUST: develop deep and rewarding relationships

With compelling real-life stories and keen insights, Miller demonstrates how anyone can find success and satisfaction by "flipping the switch."
John G. Miller is the founder of QBQ, Inc., an organizational development company dedicated to making personal accountability a core value for organizations and individuals. QBQ, Inc. has worked with hundreds of Fortune 500 and other companies and governmental and non-government organizations internationally. Miller, who appears freque...
Title:Flipping The Switch...: Unleash The Power Of Personal Accountability Using The Qbq!Format:HardcoverDimensions:144 pages, 8.56 × 5.75 × 0.71 inPublished:December 29, 2005Publisher:Penguin Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0399152954

ISBN - 13:9780399152955


Read from the Book

¥ Chapter One¥The QBQ! Advantage PrinciplesI've seen firsthand the difference personal accountability can make. I recently had my first year-end evaluation from my new boss. In our organization-a large financial and insurance firm-the highest rating anyone can achieve on their performance review is an "Exceeds." My boss began the meeting by saying he had not awarded an "Exceeds" to anyone in fifteen years! "But your performance has been stellar and I'm giving you an 'Exceeds' rating for the year. I wish I had a dozen people just like you!"In addition, his written comments said, "Consistently stays focused on the problem and how to make things better. Rarely criticizes others' performance, but instead works hard to improve communication within the department, understanding of the situation, and personal skills."I honestly didn't know what to say, but that's when I realized how much QBQ! had helped me. I had read it just as I started in my new position, and it struck a chord with me. I took its lessons to heart and began to focus each day on how I could add value to a situation by asking better questions of myself. When I've been frustrated, the QBQ has helped me redirect my emotions toward contributing rather than complaining. I gained energy from identifying the things on which I could have an impact and then taking action on them. And now, one year later, my boss is commending me on the very areas in which I have been making an effort. What a tremendous feeling!This story comes from Bill, a middle manager at Nationwide Insurance and a reader of QBQ! The Question Behind the Question. And it illustrates perfectly what happens when someone "flips the switch." Flipping the switch means asking a QBQ (we'll cover the QBQ method in greater detail in chapter 2) and, simply put, those who use the QBQ and practice personal accountability have a better chance of succeeding than those who don't. I've come to think of it as the "QBQ! Advantage." And though this particular story is about gaining an advantage at work, the QBQ and personal accountability bring similar advantages to every area of our lives.In this book, we will explore the QBQ! Advantage Principles-five fundamental concepts or values that guide our behavior. The QBQ! Advantage Principles are:LearningOwnershipCreativityServiceTrustThese principles aren't new, of course. Nor is the idea that living by them improves lives. What is new, and what we'll be exploring in this book, is how personal accountability and the QBQ relate to each of them. We'll show that using the QBQ and practicing personal accountability may be the most effective strategy for bringing the Advantage Principles to life.But how is asking a QBQ like flipping a switch? Consider what happens when you turn on a light switch. It's so routine, you probably don't even think about it. When you flip the switch, you unblock-or unleash-a flow of electrons. This flow of energy, called a current, reaches the lightbulb in an instant, bringing it to life. Although the current lights the bulb, flipping the switch is the essential first step.Similarly, asking a QBQ is the essential first step to bringing the Advantage Principles to life. Personal accountability is what powers the principles, but the QBQ is the switch that starts us thinking and acting accountably in the first place. Conversely, the bulb quickly darkens when we turn off the switch. The moment we stop being accountable-by blaming, complaining, thinking like a victim, or procrastinating-we also stop learning, taking ownership, acting creatively, or being of service. And the trust we've built with others will quickly evaporate.So it's these five principles-Learning, Ownership, Creativity, Service, and Trust-that give us a tremendous advantage in our lives, but not without practicing personal accountability. And the QBQ helps us do just that.But simply reading about personal accountability will not bring the Advantage Principles to life. Personal accountability is all about action-making better choices day in and day out. Throughout this book we'll hear stories of individuals like Bill who embody the Advantage Principles and see the difference personal accountability makes in their lives. But we won't see much difference in our lives until we take similar actions of our own. So let's start right now. As you read on, continually ask yourself, "How can I-how will I-apply these ideas at work and at home?" That's the first step toward unleashing the power of personal accountability and gaining the QBQ! Advantage. All it takes is the simple flip of a switch.¥ Chapter Two¥QBQ! The Question Behind the QuestionBefore getting into the first Advantage Principle, let's take a brief look at the QBQ, both as an introduction for those who haven't read QBQ! The Question Behind the Question and as a refresher for those who have. After all, repetition is the motor of learning!QBQ stands for "the Question Behind the Question," and here's what it's all about: When faced with a problem or frustration, our minds first tend to fill with questions like "Why is this happening to me?" and "When will others do things right?" These questions are natural and understandable, but by focusing on everything and everyone except the person asking them, they demonstrate a lack of personal accountability. It's only when we stop and look behind those first questions that we find better ones-QBQs-such as "What can I do?" and "How can I contribute?" Asking these questions turns the focus back to ourselves and to what we can do to make a difference. It's nearly impossible to overstate the positive impact this simple change in focus can have on our lives!To better understand the meaning and power of the QBQ, let's start by defining it. Then we will briefly explore key words contained within the definition.The QBQ is a tool that helps leaders at all levels practice personal accountability by asking better questions and making better choices in the moment.a ToolA tool is something we can use to help us-in the moment-perform at higher levels. Organizations have wasted billions of dollars on so-called tools that are really only motivational sessions, platitudes, and great-sounding fads. But when we get pumped up in our meetings, rallies, and seminars, and then have to go out to do our jobs-something happens: We hit the "wall of reality." We think, What I heard in training sounded good, but it's not working for me in the real world. In other words, it's not practical. And if it's not practical, it's not much of a tool.The QBQ is different. It's practical and it works. What makes it work are three easy-to-apply guidelines that show us how to construct effective questions:1. QBQs begin with the words "What" or "How," not "Why," "When," or "Who."¥ "Why" questions lead to complaining and victim thinking, as in, "Why is this happening to me?"¥ "When" questions lead to procrastination, as in, "When will someone solve this problem?"¥ "Who" questions lead to blame, as in, "Who dropped the ball?"2. QBQs contain the word "I," not "they," "them," "you," or even "we," because I can change only me.3. QBQs always focus on action.One important point to keep in mind is that it is possible to apply the QBQ guidelines and still create a lousy question. For example, "How can I avoid responsibility in this matter?" or "What action can I take right now to hold the team back?" adhere to the rules, but they are certainly not constructive questions!Leaders at All LevelsLeadership has nothing to do with our title, position, tenure, or "span of control" and everything to do with the way we think. By bringing responsibility, ownership, and action to life, the QBQ helps each of us think-and act-like a leader.Personal AccountabilityPersonal accountability is about eliminating blame, complaining, and procrastination. When we point fingers looking for "whodunit," when we lament about our situation and what people are doing to us, and when we delay our own contribution while waiting for others to act, we are not putting personal accountability into action.Everyone seems to agree on the need for personal accountability, but no one knows what to do about it. The QBQ solves that problem by enabling us to transform our desire for accountability into real, lasting change.Asking Better QuestionsThe underlying concept of the QBQ is this:The answers are in the questions.When we ask better questions, we get better answers. The QBQ guidelines show us how to build better questions and which questions to avoid. Also, it's important to remember that these are questions we ask of ourselves, not of others. The QBQ is primar-ily a self-management tool, designed to help us re-frame our own thinking.ChoicesWe have countless opportunities each day to make choices. And what is it that we are always choosing? Our next thought. A compelling opportunity for change exists in these individual moments. Taking charge of our thoughts can literally transform our lives. By helping us make better choices, the QBQ enables us to do just that.IQ/QBQ ComparisonsIncorrect Questions (IQs) are the "why," "when," and "who" questions that lead to victim thinking, procrastination, and blame. Contrasting QBQs with IQs is an excellent way to learn how to put the QBQ into action. Let's take a look at the following IQ/QBQ comparisons:The sale falls through.IQ: "When will I ever get a break?"QBQ: "How can I better understand my customer?"You're passed over for a promotion.IQ: "Why did this happen to me?"QBQ: "What can I do in my current job to excel?"Our child struggles in school.IQ: "Why can't the schools be more effective?"QBQ: "How can I help him succeed?"The people you manage fail to do their jobs.IQ: "Why aren't they motivated?"QBQ: "How can I improve my coaching skills?"A mistake is made.IQ: "Who blew it?"QBQ: "What can I do to help solve the problem?"For a complete exploration of the QBQ, I encourage you to read QBQ! The Question Behind the Question.Before we go on to the first Advantage Principle, take a moment to review the IQ/QBQ comparisons one by one. Think about how you might make better choices and ask better questions. Consider the impact of eliminating blame, complaining, victim thinking, and procrastination. Imagine the difference the QBQ will make in your life, both at work and at home.¥ Chapter Three¥A Picture of LearningFollowing a presentation I made to a travel company some years ago, a young man named David came up to me and asked, "Mr. Miller, have you written any books?"At that time, I hadn't, so I said, "No, not yet, but I will soon. Why do you ask?""I just thought if I had some way to study your material further," David replied, "I could apply it even better!"Although this exchange happened years ago, I still remember how impressed I was with David's commitment to learning. I thanked him and said I'd send him a copy of my first book when it came out.Afterward, we all moved to another room for the company's annual awards banquet. When dinner was over, the CEO got up and began lauding people for their achievements. One by one they came forward to receive their recognition, a parade of smiling achievers smothered in the applause of their peers.Finally, it came time to announce the Top Agent of the Year award, honoring the individual who not only produced outstanding revenue but also demonstrated exceptional leadership. The CEO paused for effect. The tension was high. When she finally announced the name, we all stood and cheered for-you guessed it-David!I have no proof, but I firmly believe there is a direct correlation between David's commitment to Learning and the fact that he was the firm's top achiever. His success wasn't based on luck, height, heritage, family background, or good looks. Rather, it was based on his desire to study more and a genuine desire to continually learn, change, and grow.A Learning mentality can be a powerful advantage in each of our lives. It enhances our ability to adapt to change, reach the goals we've set, and become the people we wish to be. It helps our work, teams, and organizations to be more innovative, productive, and fun. But perhaps what is most important is how it makes us feel. Learning brings forth energy, enthusiasm, and a zest for life that's lacking in those who-for whatever reason-have ceased to learn.We are not Learning when we ask the IQs:"When is someone going to train me?""Why do we have to go through all this change?""When are we going to hear something new?""Who's going to give us the vision?""Why can't others do their jobs right?"We are Learning when we ask the QBQs:"What can I do to develop new skills?""How can I adapt to the changing world?""What can I do to apply what I'm hearing?""How can I be more productive today?""What can I do to be my best?"How can we become more like David? By asking QBQs that open our minds and help us embrace change. And that's when we start practicing the Advantage Principle of Learning!¥ Chapter Four¥Garbage Thinking: The Roadblocks to LearningWhat would you say if I told you I have a friend who never takes out his garbage? Instead he keeps it stored in drawers, plastic containers, and boxes. From time to time he pulls it out, spreads it on the floor, and rolls in it-for hours. I imagine you'd say that purposely collecting, hoarding, and wallowing in garbage is a ridiculous-even insane-thing to do. And I'd agree. Yet we all do it-maybe not literally, like my fictional friend, but in our minds.Since 1986, I've spent thousands of hours conducting training sessions for organizations and groups of all kinds. During that time, I've come to recognize that every one of us holds on to "garbage" thoughts, ideas, and viewpoints that close our minds and keep us off the path of personal growth. This garbage thinking manifests in many ways, but each tends to fit into one of five categories, or mindsets, which I call the Roadblocks to Learning. They are:Exception MentalityExpectationsEntitlement ThinkingExperience TrapExclusionTo bring the advantages of the Principle of Learning into our lives, we must first eliminate these roadblocks from our thinking. Let's look at how the QBQ can help us do that.Roadblock One: Exception MentalityFlying to Kansas City from St. Louis one evening, about a one-hour flight, I used my frequent flier miles to upgrade to first class. As I took my seat, I smiled and said "Hello" to the gentleman next to me. He smiled back. After I settled in, I noticed the cuff links, starched white shirt, full dark suit, deep maroon tie, and wing tips, and I immediately knew whom I was sitting next to: an executive.