Q&A With John Miller: Busting The Myths About Personal Accountability

As many of you know I am personally involved in two very high-level masterminds that I pay to be in, and one thing I love about them is that I get exposed to some of the best content and mentors! Well, that’s exactly how today’s interview with John Miller came about.

Everyone in my mastermind kept mentioning this book QBQ, The Question Behind The Question. It got to the point where I didn’t even care what the book was about, I knew I needed to read it. I actually loved the book so much that I gave it a shoutout on Instagram and apparently one of my friends who knows John tagged him, and just like that the connection happened. John is going to share more about how to find the question behind the question and he is even going to bust a few myths regarding personal accountability!

John has written, QBQ: The Question Behind The Question, Flipping The Switch, Outstanding, 47 Ways To Make Your Organization Exceptional and co-wrote a book called Raising Accountable Kids. John also has a brand new workbook called, QBQ Workbook and Building Character Through Personal Accountability.

John has such a strong mission and you can just feel his vision. Where did that come from? How did this get started?

John: “I started in a training business in 1986. I was almost 28. I’d come out of five years with a big company. I’ve gotten out of Cornell University where I graduated. My wife and I grew up in Ithaca, New York, got married, joined the big company and moved around the country. After five years of sitting at a desk I realized this wasn’t right for me. I didn’t know it at the time but I was too entrepreneurial. I was too high energy to work 8-5 and sit in a desk and hope that the boss liked what I did. Seeking someone else’s approval if you will.

One day I found an ad for a company that was offering an opportunity in Minneapolis/St. Paul to sell leadership training and I inquired and after a couple interviews they hired me and life just turned around because I had found my passion and no longer did I worry about getting past Hump Day Wednesday or when is it gonna be Friday. Every day was exciting because I was doing what my gifts were in line with.

That’s when I discovered my QBQ message because I would sit in these sessions and I would listen to people ask very off track questions like why do we have to go through all this change? When is someone going to train me? Who made the mistake? When will that department do its job right? And I remember one day I thought, wait a minute…what if we asked the question behind the question. So I went out and I started teaching groups to turn lousy questions around like why do others do more for me? Why don’t I ever get a break and asked the question behind the question, what can I do to serve? How can I contribute today, what can I do to make a difference? Those questions immediately put me or you and anyone else on the path of personal accountability.”

Such an amazing story from John and I know a lot of my clients do this and I know I do too. But we have a way of thinking, why is this happening to me or why can’t I reach that breakthrough or when is it going to be my time? John mentions two myths surrounding accountability in his book. What are those two myths?

John: “I figured it out through teaching that there were a couple things that would block people’s ability to absorb the message of personal accountability, that I wanted to get through and it was the myths that we’ve allowed to creep into, usually big companies. But it applies everywhere. The first myth is that accountability is a group thing.

Corporations have done team building and river rafting and gone off to special sessions to build the team. What’s developed out of that is we we rely so much on teamwork, we’ve forgotten the power of one. The power of John the power of Stacy. What one person can do. So personal accountability is not a group thing or a team thing it’s very much a me thing. We want to do away with phrases like group accountability, team accountability and all those things and talk about personal accountability. What can John Miller do to support the team?

The other myth around accountability is we think it’s something to hold others to and that comes from my years of selling and implementing this management training I would sit in sessions and basically hear managers say well, I’m going to call my people in on Tuesday and I’m going to hold them accountable. In the QBQ book we are flipping the switch to look in the mirror and say, how can I be a better coach for my people? What can I do to improve my business? What can I do today to take a risk? It’s really personal accountability is about me.

The second myth of accountability, is we think accountability is for someone else or something I hold others to know. The myth that the truth is accountability is for me whether I’m a mom or a dad or a business leader or an executive or an entrepreneur or a stay at home mom running a business out of my home. Personal accountability always begins with me not with others.”

Let’s talk about what QBQ is actually solving, what kinds of problems are you looking for?

John: “The human condition by human nature is to have a pity party. We see ourselves get frustrated, angry and emotionally uneasy. But sometimes feelings aren’t justified. If somebody else lets me down, OK I can have a moment of disappointment. But instead of blaming and whining and pointing fingers, how about I ask what can I do to now contribute? How can I help solve the problem?

The minute we start turning these questions around and start asking, well when are they going to do more for me and start asking what can I do today to make a difference? We have just changed everything. We’ve changed our thoughts, which drives our emotions, which drives our actions, which become habits over time. Success is not built on a lifetime, it’s built on the moments. The moment we pause and say okay…I’m frustrated. I’m disappointed. I’m hurt. But what can I do right now to move forward?

Then we pick ourselves up and we take action and we get going. The book QBQ specifically eliminates victim thinking, procrastination from our lives, blame and finger pointing. These are the problems that we have as people and we always have had them. QBQ just happens to be a solution to those problems so I can take personal accountability and get something done today that really serves people.”

When we all of a sudden we recognize we’re in this moment of having that pity party or feeling sorry for ourselves, what’s something we can do immediately to make that switch and start asking those questions?

John: “We have to be aware of our thinking. When somebody dropped the ball in my own mind, my response when when a customer says, we will hire you and then change their mind and says oops not going to do it. What goes through my brain when somebody doesn’t do something I’ve asked and do it the way I asked it to be done. How do I process that. So winners. If you don’t mind that term successful people are always aware of what they’re thinking.

It doesn’t control them they control it they control their thoughts so so things do happen in my life. Oh somebody let me down. Somebody dropped the ball some didn’t do so in a way I asked. Well right now what am I doing whining. Playing pity party having a pity party playing the victim. Do I feel entitled to other people’s love and help or do I possibly say okay this is frustrating. But what can I do right now to shake this. How can I move forward. The focus is always back on John Miller because the greatest sin in the book QBQ is I can only change me so why am I worrying about others. What can I do to be a better leader for them. Everything comes back to me.”

What’s the reason why behind that what they’re getting out of it and how does it help him just have a better team a better staff.

He knows at the very root of financial management is personal responsibility because if we blame the winds of society if we blame the external factors if we’re trying to keep up with the Joneses still we’ll never manage our money right. So Dave came along and happened to find the QB cube book. So Dave requires all his employees to wear to read it not because of just the financial management belief you know that we’ve got to have accountability to get out of debt but because he’s got a big company hundreds of people so he’s no different than any other organization we work with they have you know human beings. We’re not careful we’re going to point fingers at the other department. We’re going to complain about not getting enough benefits or get passed over for a promotion. And Dave simply wants an organization where people say I am accountable.”

What does it take for a person or an organization to be outstanding?

John: “Outstanding individuals do exactly what we’ve been talking about here. They pause and in the moment they discipline their thoughts. Leadership is not title or position or how many years of work somewhere. Leadership is the moment by moment disciplining of my thoughts. We were given the ability to think, the ability to choose and we are aware of what what we’re thinking. We are aware of what we’re choosing. So an individual who is outstanding is on top of their thinking and saying, no, I will not play victim.

They get their actions in line with their values. They see everybody as the customer internally and externally. Outstanding organizations, do they coach in the moment? Not just once a year at the performance review and that’s what the Outstanding books are all about. An outstanding individual inside an organization is aware of their actions, aware of their behaviors, just like you and I are aware of our thinking. So in an outstanding organization you’ve got a lot of people saying OK, we can do this better, how do we do it? That’s why we wrote the Outstanding book.

I am somebody who is very decisive and I make very quick actions, which is great. It’s a strength but sometimes it can be a weakness. Sometimes I need to just pause a little longer. So like you said gather my thoughts and really take action on what I want to do.

The number one thing is they realize they’ve probably been trying to fix someone other than themselves and the core message of QB Q The core message of personal accountability is I can only fix me. All I can really do is change me. What can I do today to improve self.”

If you want more from John be sure to follow him on Instagram, @qbqjohn or find him on Facebook and check out his books! He also goes more in depth with all of this on the podcast which you can listen to at shesbuildingherempire.com/podcast/273! I would love to hear from you so let’s keep the conversation going. Head over to the FREE Facebook group to connect with other female entrepreneurs!