6 Costs of a Dangerous Way of Thinking

Nucla Sunset

Have you heard this?

“If you don’t like the weather, just wait five minutes!”

Sorry to offend those who think their weather is “all that,” but Karen and I have lived in Montana, Missouri, Minnesota, and Colorado since 1980, and in each locale that claim has been made.

Not sure why people think their weather is unique. Maybe it’s a result of growing up in one region of the country and never moving from there. I don’t know.

It’s not a bad thing to say, of course. It’s just … “uninformed.” (Yes, I know, that will offend some. Sorry!)

But there is another uninformed statement people make that is a bad thing to say. I’ve heard it in the computer industry, oil and gas field, funeral home business, faith-based world, and the restaurant market. It’s this:

We’re different.

Nope, you’re not.

When prospective clients contact QBQ, Inc. about speaking at their organization, sometimes they ask, “Have you ever spoken in our industry?”

Honestly, I’d like to respond with a facetious, “Well, do you have people?” 🙂

Let me be clear:

  • People = Problems
  • People = Problems
  • People = Problems
  • People = Problems
  • People = Problems

No, that isn’t a typing error. That’s the repetition required for people who erroneously believe their industry, market, organization, region, district, branch, department, or team is “different.”

The “we’re different” mindset hurts us in many ways, possibly the costliest is we always have an excuse for failure at our disposal.

“Hey, it’s not our fault that we didn’t achieve the target, goal, or objective! You see … we’re different!”

Here are 5 more costs of believing that we’re different:

  1. Commonsense ideas that work elsewhere are rejected.
  2. Arrogance becomes a roadblock to learning.
  3. A changing marketplace is not adapted to.
  4. Opportunities are not seen or seized.
  5. Problems are denied.

Just as the Millers know from living in many states that weather can change quickly anywhere, I arrived at my You’re not different! belief by calling on hundreds of organizations while selling leadership training. In doing so, I invested 10,000 hours in workshops listening to …


What I heard from every group is what we at QBQ, Inc. call “Incorrect Questions” or “IQs.” (tutorial here)

Here are just five IQs:

  1. “Why do we have to go through all this change?”
  2. “When is someone going to train me?”
  3. “Who dropped the ball?”
  4. “When will that department do its job right?”
  5. “Why can’t we find good people?”

These Incorrect Questions are dangerous because they lead the individuals who ask them to Victim Thinking, Procrastination, and Blame. When individuals go there, so do our organizations.

Then our organizations have problems.


The bottomline:

When people practice personal accountability, organizational problems can be solved.

So, there’s good and bad news …

The bad news is just as there will always be weather, there will always be people—and problems.

The good news is if you have people and problems, you’re no different than anyone else.

Two Questions:

Does your organization struggle with a “we’re different” mindset? Explain.

We list above 6 costs of  “we’re different” thinking. Can you add one or two to our list?

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10 Responses

  1. John, I am going to comment about your post from another angle,… not to disagree with you but to put forth another perspective. People are different. Some are smarter, more agile, more accepting, more creative or more dynamic. We are not all the same! Frequently we have problems at work because we refuse to accept this fact and EXPECT everyone to do things the way we think they should be done or think the way we do. We see doing things differently as scary or wrong and we strongly appose this. This is another form of intolerance and it is a nasty cancerous type of growth among many companies. Instead we should embrace our differences in style and skills, which are real, but also recognize that we can collectively work together to achieve the best result by emphasizing quality, service to others, excellence, self-control and personal responsibility. But we will not all do this the same way.

  2. Great thoughts John. I have heard those same comments and it gets back to a core belief about significance and perspective that says, “I am unique and somewhat special, so please recognize this perception and help me understand what is really going on.” You might even call this a “limiting belief” that isn’t asking the right questions. Thanks for your thoughts and giving people a real solution with your great book on Personal Accountability. Robb

  3. Not to be argumentative or split hairs, but……we west Texans do say that about the weather here. At the end of the statement we add, “Because it’ll change”.

    We’re not implying that our weather will be even lovelier or more glorious when it changes in five minutes. And we most definitely do not think we or our weather is “all that”.

    Spring and fall, the dirt is probably up in the air. Five minutes after that, it may sprinkle and make mud balls, which makes us giddily happy because we are having a horrible drought.

    We are not uninformed and least of all “all that”. And me, personally? I can assure you that I am not uninformed. I have lived in several diverse states and travelled all over the world.

    We use that expression about our weather because we go from winter to summer and vice versa during each of the four seasons while breathing sand mixed with red clay or mud balls. Do not make light of that, Bud. Still doubt it? Here ya go: http://www.everythinglubbock.com/story/lubbock-named-city-with-toughest-weather-in-america/d/story/rgZhjH3rR0KT3BD9-QpgOA
    The weather channel seems to have named us the winner of the “Toughest Weather City in America”.

    Did I enjoy your Personal Accountability message? I don’t know. I was so riled up; I don’t remember anything about it. And I am a customer of yours. I facilitate our Service Excellence at my place of employment. And I give each new hire a copy of QBQ.

  4. John the last mandatory meeting I went started with the comment “I know you’re shorthanded give me another reason for not getting the work done”. The company could really use one of your seminars from QBQ. Brian

  5. By thinking we are different, we do not allow ourselves to learn from other’s mistakes. We’ll think, “That won’t/can’t happen to us because we’re different.”

    From a New Englander where “Weather Happens”!

  6. Being an old guy if I’ve learned any major lesson in life it’s this…..You don’t have to act the way you feel. During the ’60s the motto was “Let it all hang out”. Almost sounds like freedom doesn’t it? Teaching people to accept responsibility for how they respond is one of my goals in life. Thanks for giving amazing information and tools to help others.

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