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Chris LoCurto

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February 8, 2013

Leadership Is A No Excuses Thing

February 8, 2013 | By | 51 Comments">51 Comments

Here’s a great guest post by the author of the book, QBQ! The Question Behind the Question, John G. Miller. Follow John at QBQ.com.

QBQ!

Leaders, in any arena, make no excuses. And it’s just that simple. But for most of us, admitting we make excuses is hard to do. This is partly because we don’t even hear the excuses come out of our mouths! But trust me, they sound like this:

  • The salesperson with poor results insists, “But boss, my territory is different from all the others.”
  • The manufacturing person complains, “If only the salespeople could sell what we make.”
  • The small business owner laments, “If the government would just cut back on their regulations, I could succeed.”
  • The executive wonders, “Why won’t people catch the vision?”
  • The manager says, “I need better people.”
  • The departing employee asserts, “But you didn’t train me.”
  • The young parent dismisses their child’s out-of-control behavior saying, “He’s just strong-willed.”
  • The student laments, “If my teachers were fair, my grades would be better.”
  • The nonprofit claims, “If people were more generous, we could meet our fundraising goals.”

Excuse-making is everywhere—and is often raised to an art form. While using the book QBQ! with his team, an executive at a major phone company asked, “What needs to change around here for you to achieve more?” The responses?

Better systems. Other people’s attitudes. Our approval processes. Budgets. Communication. Products. More tools and training are needed!

Wouldn’t it be powerful—and refreshing—to instead hear this answer: “I own the result. No excuses.” Living a NO EXCUSES life is exciting. When I’m willing to take personal accountability—the opposite of excuse-making—my effectiveness increases, goals are achieved, and excellence comes. And those are worthy outcomes. My wife, Karen, and I recently wrote Parenting the QBQ Way—and here’s what’s funny: When we sent out an email announcing the book, we got back a bunch of emails saying, “Thank you, Millers! Just what I need—a book to help me hold my child accountable.” I wonder how challenged these readers were when they read this line in the book:

My children are a product of my parenting.

Whether I run a family or a business—or work for the person who does—personal accountability is not for others. It is for me. And until I embrace that idea, I cannot be called “leader.” Only you know if you’ve made any excuses at work or at home recently. If so, identify them, admit to them, and ask The Question Behind the Question—the QBQ: “What can I do to own the result?” That great question will lead to great answers.

Question: How valuable do you see QBQ! being in your life? 

 

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  • Wade_Thorson

    I read QBQ about 6 months ago, it is definitely very critical in my life. It is so easy to blame something or someone else for not getting your job done but the real problem is you. This is a concept I have to keep in the back of my mind all the time, and as with anything it takes time to make the lifelong adjustment. It is a book that should probably be read once a year because I am sure you will pick up something different every time.
    And just as important I am working on using these questions with my team as they come to me blaming others for the situation.

  • http://www.joshuarivers.net/ Joshua Rivers

    I love that book! Read several months ago, and I’m getting ready to read it again. I’m going to be implementing more of that mindset into my own life, while trying to help others do the same. I teach a Jr. High Bible class, and I plan on teaching some of this to them in the near future.

  • http://somewiseguy.com/ ThatGuyKC

    Hi Chris, I’m a big fan of the blog and EntreLeadership podcast. However, I’m an RSS subscriber and it’s frustrating to follow your posts because they are broken up and force me to visit the site itself. Especially when I’m on a mobile device this often influences me to skip the rest of the article. I’m more likely to comment and share w/ my audience if I can read all the content in RSS.

    Would you consider freeing up your RSS feed? It takes 30 seconds. WordPress > Dashboard > Settings > Reading > For each article in a feed show > Full Text.

    Thank you, Chris. Keep up the good work & God bless.
    -KC

    • http://jonstolpe.com/ Jon Stolpe

      I’ve often wondered about that. Is there a strategy to only showing part of the text? I read most of the blogs I follow through Google Reader, but I have to come to the site to read this blog. In a way, it forces me to be on the same page as the comments. I wonder if there would be a change in commenting if Chris went to full text.

      • http://somewiseguy.com/ ThatGuyKC

        Personally, I believe freeing up the RSS feed leads to more comments. Michael Hyatt, Jon Acuff, John Saddington and many other pro bloggers do not limit the content published in their RSS feed and lack of comments is a non-issue.

        If the content is compelling enough I will visit the blog itself to leave a comment.

  • http://jonstolpe.com/ Jon Stolpe

    I must confess that I haven’t read QBQ yet, but it is on my “To Read” list.

    Owning the results is essential to being a successful leader. I don’t want to pass the buck. I want to own up to and be responsible for the results. Obviously, I love the successes. But I’ve also learned to embrace the failures or obstacles as opportunities to learn and grow.

    • http://www.hardandsimple.blogspot.com/ Mark Sieverkropp

      Its on my to read list too jon. The problem with my list (and I suspect, yours too) is that is like 40 books long!!! It’s frustrating, too many people writing too many awesome books ;)

      • http://jonstolpe.com/ Jon Stolpe

        My list is much longer than 40. I need to start reading in my sleep. :)

        • http://www.hardandsimple.blogspot.com/ Mark Sieverkropp

          haha, ya mine probably is too. My wife just rolls her eyes when I say theres a new book I want!!

          • http://jonstolpe.com/ Jon Stolpe

            Yes, my wife and kids refer to me as a book hoarder.

    • http://twitter.com/QBQGuy John G. Miller

      Jon, well said! Thanks for sharing.

      • http://jonstolpe.com/ Jon Stolpe

        Thanks, John. I look forward to reading your book.

    • http://www.joshuarivers.net/ Joshua Rivers

      I would suggest moving the book up the list. It is definitely worth it!

      • http://jonstolpe.com/ Jon Stolpe

        I’ll do that.

      • http://twitter.com/QBQGuy John G. Miller

        Joshua, too kind. Thanks!

  • http://www.janabotkin.net/ Jana Botkin

    Are the excuses listed above ever actually true reasons for failure?

    Without training, an employee WILL struggle. Unfair teachers DO give wrong grades. Governmental regulations DO hinder success.

    I’m surmising that the premise is No Matter What, a leader does everything in her power to push through the obstacles.

    • http://twitter.com/QBQGuy John G. Miller

      Jana, people all around me make mistakes, fail to follow through, and aren’t perfect ….. but I can always ask the QBQ “How can I succeed?” and not use all of this as a reason or excuse for failing. Oh, by the way, I make mistakes, fail to follow thru, and blunder myself! Read Ch 16 of QBQ!

      • http://www.janabotkin.net/ Jana Botkin

        Thanks, John. Looking forward to reading it!

  • http://twitter.com/CabinetDoork Jeremy Carver

    Chris, thanks for sharing great information again!

    John, QBQ! and it’s message was pivotal for me. We all know to own the results, but we need reminders. (like regularly showering) There is too great a temptation to focus on the defense and the referees instead of your offence! QBQ! book is the best presentation of Personal Accountability I’ve ever seen. My team get’s a copy and it’s one of the books that I have on hand to give to people. Thank you John, for being passionate about this message. You and your team rock!

    • John G. Miller

      Jeremy, your comments I made my day. Thanks for believing

  • Steve Pate

    HUGE HUGE AND VERY HUGE! When I started working with college age students and volunteers at our youth camp, I started using QBQ as a training tool to set the bar on how we treat our team mates and costumers. I have found even a Christian environment can be the worst on complaining and pointing fingers.

    The results have been awesome, but it only works when the leaders are walking the talk as well. Its for sure a daily exercise. Over all my hope is to encourage young adults to not be like the world and own their thoughts and decisions through a tool like QBQ.

    Love the QBQ news letters and web site. And thanks to Dave Ramsey’s team for promoting a great book!

    • John g miller

      Steve, thank you. We do love awesome results around here!

  • Dan O’

    Thanks John! I got QBQ on audiobook last week and listened to it twice. I’m so glad you posted today, because it really worked to cement what I’ve been learning.

    Chris, I’ve finished 7 of the books you’ve recommended on the podcast so far. Great picks! Thanks for all you do.

    • http://www.joshuarivers.net/ Joshua Rivers

      They are definitely great books! I’ve been working through a bunch of them. I’ll have to tally the ones I’ve done.

  • http://www.hardandsimple.blogspot.com/ Mark Sieverkropp

    John, I havent read QBQ yet, but I am looking forward to it! From your post, its reminding me alot of Stephen Covey’s principle of “be proactive”… good stuff.

    • http://www.lilykreitinger.com/ Lily Kreitinger

      What?! Haven’t read it yet?? When you do, you will be able to say, “Yes, it’s all my fault when blogs break”.

      • http://www.hardandsimple.blogspot.com/ Mark Sieverkropp

        Oh good, I can’t hardly wait :p. You’re not really having a positive effect on my desire to read it…telling me that i’ll admit to the trumped up charges against me :)

        • http://www.joshuarivers.net/ Joshua Rivers

          I thought the charges were minimized…

    • http://jonahenry.com/ Jon Henry

      This. This first sentence is why we can blame Skropp for breaking stuff and still follow QBQ.

      • http://www.hardandsimple.blogspot.com/ Mark Sieverkropp

        I didnt know that you were looking for a reason to blame me, just thought you’d blame me…reason or not!

    • http://twitter.com/QBQGuy John G. Miller

      A few years back, Mark, a client who loved Covey’s stuff heard me explain QBQ! and called it the “drill down” for the first habit Be Proactive. Thx!

      • http://www.hardandsimple.blogspot.com/ Mark Sieverkropp

        Thats exactly what it sounds like John! I can’t wait to pick it up and give it a read! Thanks for the post.

  • http://jonahenry.com/ Jon Henry

    I sent an email to Zynga (makers of Words with Friends) to add another Q to the board and make QBQ an official word. Needless to say, I have yet to get a reply.

    QBQ is definitely one of those books where you can tell if the message sticks — both personally and in others — by seeing results-driven responsibility take root. I know the culture of my team changed dramatically when people held themselves accountable first. Then we were able to come back together as a stronger team because of our individual focus on taking ownership of the end result. Strange how that worked out, huh?

    • John G. Miller

      Jon, I play WWF all the time. I would love to see that! Thanks for using QBQ!

    • http://jonstolpe.com/ Jon Stolpe

      I just tried it with a ‘blank’ tile, and it didn’t work. Let me know how you make out with Zynga. ;)

  • Jaselyn

    I haven’t read QBQ yet (it’s on my list!), but this post reminds me of another principle I learned a while back: the 100/0 Principle. This means that you take 100% of the responsibility for how your relationships are, and expect the other person to take 0%. It’s really hard to do this, especially because it means that you can’t expect the other person to follow the same principle! But when you do it the right way, it’s a really cool way to improve (or repair) relationships, because it gets you focused on the other person and their needs instead of you and your needs.

    At my company, we have a saying: “There are two kinds of people in the world: those who find excuses, and those who find a way. Which are you going to be today?”

    Once we can overcome our need to be right, we can stop making excuses and start finding ways. Hard, but totally worth it.

    • http://twitter.com/QBQGuy John G. Miller

      Jaselyn, so cool. And QBQ! will help you’re team lock these ideas in. Thanks!

  • http://www.lilykreitinger.com/ Lily Kreitinger

    QBQ is one of my favorite books. Of course I had to stop myself when I thought I had to give it away to CERTAIN people that might benefit from it… The only person I need to worry about reading it is me. I believe I can spread personal accountability by practicing it. My world has been better since I’ve started applying these principles, as hard as it is to look in the mirror and admit that change begins with me.

    • http://twitter.com/QBQGuy John G. Miller

      Lily, you’re a kick. Thanks for sharing!

  • http://caroldublin.com/ Carol Dublin

    QBQ is one of those books that I need to read often – because I screw up often, and need the reminder that rather than play the blame game, I need to just do what I can to make things better.

    I work at a nonprofit, and a couple of years ago, our leadership team read and discussed QBQ and we read a chapter at a time to our team members at morning prayer time. But we have new team members.

    When QBQ was mentioned again recently as Chris discussed must read leadership books, I requested of my Executive Director that we reread it. She agreed, I’ve ordered copies and soon we’ll begin revisiting the awesome principles in QBQ.

    Thanks for such an impactful message.

    • http://twitter.com/QBQGuy John G. Miller

      Carol, too kind! There is a gent at Coldwell Banker in OH who reads QBQ! every New Year’s Eve. Seriously! Be well.

  • http://www.mattmcwilliams.com/ Matt McWilliams

    I’ve read QBQ (it’s required reading for Lampo spouses too…or is that just my wife? haha)

    I read it and went, “Yep. That makes sense. OK, now who to blame for our drop in sales.”

    I’ll admit when I read it, I was not in a place spiritually or emotionally to accept the VERY hard truth of it’s message.

    But a few years ago, I hired a guy whose wife was a roommate of your daughter in college and we discussed the book in-depth. That was the beginning of a slow (slower than I wanted) change in my life to realize that there are things that are out of my control (minority) and things which are in my control (majority).

    When I screw up now, I take responsibility. No one is out to get me. Most people try hard and make mistakes, they are not worthless. God actually wants things to work out. Those are the types of things I learned.

    Sadly, John, your book will only reach about 10% of the people who read it. I am trying hard to be in that 10%.People who write hard-to-accept truths usually don’t become world famous. But I still recommend this book to everyone because it might just reach one of them.

    P.S. Thank you for mentioning my blog the other day. Some really cool people stopped by.

    • http://www.hardandsimple.blogspot.com/ Mark Sieverkropp

      …and when Matt fails to take responsibility, I make sure I point it out. Its just being a good friend…or thorn in the side, one of the two ;)

      • http://www.lilykreitinger.com/ Lily Kreitinger

        And I take it that us, regular people on his blog are not that cool…

      • Steve Pate

        lol

        • http://twitter.com/QBQGuy John G. Miller

          Mark, you’re a good friend. :-)

          • http://www.mattmcwilliams.com/ Matt McWilliams

            Yes he is!

            • http://www.hardandsimple.blogspot.com/ Mark Sieverkropp

              wow…a compliment from matt to skropp…put that one in the books! You’re not a bad friend yourself ;)

          • http://www.hardandsimple.blogspot.com/ Mark Sieverkropp

            I do what I can…tough love is my specialty ;)

    • http://twitter.com/QBQGuy John G. Miller

      Matt, thanks. Oh I think we can get up to 20%! Email me the person’s name of who knows one of my many daughters. 6, you know. John@QBQ.com. Thanks!

      • http://www.mattmcwilliams.com/ Matt McWilliams

        On the way John!