A QBQ! Reflection: Life is Short … and Good

There are events that cause us to do some serious reflecting, aren’t there?

A gentleman the Millers knew passed away Saturday.

I can’t say he was my “friend,” since I’d only shaken his hand a few times. I do recall him standing in our rec room in May 2008 shooting pool at my 50th birthday party. I really only knew him because my wife, Karen, and his wife are friends—and have the same circle of friends. As often is the case, women have circles that are bigger and wider than their men, so it was through these relationships that Karen and others supported this man and his family during their struggle.

Continue Reading

Leadership in Parenting: Letting Go, Supporting Others

Michael John Miller, at about 3!He was going to be wrestler—just like Dad.

It was 1992 when I called—yes, called—the Resilite mat company to order our own Miller family wrestling mat. I didn’t choose my Cornell colors of red and white, but I did get a big “M” stamped on it.

When it came, all 12’x12’ of it, Karen and I dragged it down to our Plymouth, MN basement—and the grappling began! Michael, our 4-year-old, would tear into me with all his might while Tara, age 7, would referee. I even gave her a whistle to blow.

Mike was going to be great!

It didn’t happen.

Oh, he’s great—but he never wrestled. Well, at age 10 he did go to one formal session after we moved to Denver, but later he complained that the “other boys were sweaty.” He never walked on a mat again.

Continue Reading

Accountability: The Coin of Change

When it comes to handling organizational change, there’s been little change.

While in college a decade ago, Kristin was a bank teller. One day she called home on her break and I asked, “How’s your shift going?”

She lamented: “We’re just buried in change here!”

Being the expert that I am—and her super wise dad—I responded, “That’s typical today; lots of change going on inside organizations.” The ensuing silence was deafening. The daughter then said slowly and clearly to the father, “No … a customer brought in $3,000 in coins and we’re counting it.”


Continue Reading

Practicing What I Preach: The Ultimate QBQ!

I missed my flight. There is nothing more frustrating than sprinting through an airport, and though truly no fault of your own, coming smack up against a closed door at your gate.

It has always been ironic to me that we conduct in live, interactive “Personal Accountability and the QBQ!” sessions all around the country, and then head to airports. With airlines. And delays. Hot beds of frustration, anger, and where the worst in people can come out.

Sadly, today was one of those days for me. It all started last night around 11pm when my airline cancelled my flight home from Louisville to my home in Madison*, WI. After almost 90 minutes on the phone, (83 of those minutes spent listening to advertisements and irritating music), I had a new flight on a different airline at an earlier time. I figured it was a blessing in disguise, getting me home to my children and husband two hours earlier than planned. I went to bed past midnight tired, but glad to have that settled.

Continue Reading

Personal Accountability: My Attitude of Gratitude

Cereal. We all love cereal. There are “kid” cereals and “adult” cereals—and the truth is adults don’t mind a bowl of Fruit Loops or Captain Crunch now and then, do we? Come on, admit it!

But seriously, when it comes to cereal, do we have choices or what?!

You know, I’m not one of those guys who attempts to shame people into feeling thankful for all we have in America—but I do need to be personally accountable and work on me.

The good news is, I actually felt a little guilty today when I was in a grocery store and saw my options.

Overflowing, ever-present abundance!Overflowing, ever-present abundance!

I even thought, Am I thankful for all my choices?!?

Continue Reading

Employee Engagement: It’s All About the Manager

In spite of the continued wave of trendy training, “employee engagement” is not a program.

Yep, you heard it here first. No matter what outside consultants are telling your executives, HR department, and training people, employee engagement is just not a corporate wide, culturally driven initiative.

Or at least, it shouldn’t be.

Then what is it?

It is what good managers do.

Continue Reading

Tend to the Little Things: “Above and Beyond” Service

I’ve engaged in cross-country travel for 17 years, and have spoken in each of our lower 48 states. I’ve stayed in so many hotels, they now sort of all look alike. I’m sure the hotel chain marketing execs who work hard to create “brand loyalty” would cringe at that, but it’s true. Truthfully, I’m not very hard to please. If my room has a bed, TV, running water, and a coffee pot—I am very happy.

But recently, I stayed at the South Seas Island Resort on Captiva Island, Florida, and witnessed something I’ve never seen before. This:

Trust me, I didn’t fold them.

Now, the place wasn’t perfect. The room service was limited and an A/C unit in the bathroom ceiling dripped some water that I had to mop up—but I’d go back. Why? Well, the 78 degree temps in January help, but mostly because an unnamed housekeeping person went above and beyond.

When I saw those clothes on my extra bed that day, a gas station back home immediately came to mind.

Continue Reading

Parenting With QBQ: Raising Contrarians

How many of us heard this while growing up?

“Well, if he jumped off a bridge, would you???”

There’s a whole bunch of parental wisdom in that question!

In the late 1960s in Ithaca, NY, as I headed to my best friend Randy’s house about a mile up the road, my mom would instruct me, “Remember, Johnny, always walk against the traffic.”

I wonder if she was helping an 11-year-old stay safe or giving outstanding life advice—or both?

Continue Reading

How to Practice “The Rock” of Accountability

Personal accountability and ownership are impossible to separate. Tough to have one without the other.

In our home Karen schedules doctors and dentists and provides our adult kids a most patient ear when they call from four states away. I check bank balances, set up airline reservations, and pick up dog mess in the yard (TMI? Sorry). We simply have defined parental and household duties.

So when the next Miller teen hit the WHEN AM I GONNA GET MY DRIVER’S LICENSE?!? stage, we all knew the job would fall to me. I handle the driver training and always have. Done it four times now. I’ve got experience!

But, this time, I blew it.

On Saturday afternoon, the teen daughter who hardly knows the difference between the brake and gas pedals and I were heading home. We live out in the Colorado country where young people have practiced driving on back roads since the dawn of the automobile. So, a half mile from our house, I put her in the driver’s seat and after thirty seconds of “training” said, “Go!”

She went—and did fine all the way to our driveway. Well, there was some swerving, but no harm done since we didn’t see another vehicle. But as we got to our drive, flanked by two huge boulders, I thought, Hmm, I should take the wheel now and turn into the driveway and park.

But I didn’t. I had a mental lapse. I assumed too much. And I got lazy. I mean, it’d be too much work to switch seats now. So I said, ”Go ahead and turn in. You can do it.”

Boy, do I ever wish I had a “do over.”

Continue Reading

5 Questions to Eliminate Entitlement Thinking

Entitlement thinking … it’s not necessarily a new phenomenon, and yet, it seems to be running rampant in our society. Or, to be more precise, in me.

I’m shocked at how often I find myself succumbing to the temptation to wallow in a victim mindset. Why? Because I was raised in a family that taught me to avoid it, and I work for aEntitlement-thinking company that teaches others how to recognize and run from it! This shows just how easy it is to fall into the trap of entitlement—and just how needed The Question Behind the Question (QBQ) is, since it’s a tool that helps us eliminate entitlement thinking by asking better questions.

Let me share some examples of lousy questions from my life recently:

“When is someone going to teach me how to use WordPress?”

“Why don’t the 10 sit-ups a week I do make any difference?”

“Who’s going to step up to mentor me in this phase of life?”

Instead of challenging myself to takes risks, plunge ahead, seek help, or enjoy life, these questions, all in their own way, lead me to victim and entitlement thinking. And away from personal accountability.

Continue Reading