Leadership Is A No Excuses Thing

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.


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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Meet Chris LoCurto


Chris has a heart for changing lives by helping people discover the life and business they really want.

Decades of personal and leadership development experience, as well as running multi-million dollar businesses, has made him an expert in life and business coaching. personality types, and communication styles.

Growing up in a small logging town near Lake Tahoe, California, Chris learned a strong work ethic at home from his full-time working mom. He began his leadership and training career in the corporate world, starting but at E'TRADE.

51 thoughts on “Leadership Is A No Excuses Thing”

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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?

  6. 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.

  7. 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!

  8. 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!

  9. 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.

    1. 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!

  10. 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.

    1. 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 😉

  11. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

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