Repeat After Me: “I can only change ______ !”

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If Just ONE …

During this Dave Ramsey Show interview, Dave asked me, “If people only get one idea from QBQ! what do you want it to be?”

I responded, “Well, Dave, it’s this: I can only change … me.”

Some of you right now are thinking, That’s not new, John, not new at all!

Right. But remember what we teach in the QBQ! book:

Repetition is the motor of learning!

So, let’s repeat the truth that I can only change me—a cornerstone of PERSONAL ACCOUNTABILITY—using a story shared by QBQ! reader, Annetta:

The Story

In the 1990s, I worked in an IT Department for a manufacturing firm. Our department had three employees who showered their toxic attitudes on the rest of us. Our manager—one of the nicest men I’ve ever met—didn’t want to upset anyone so he couldn’t handle these people very well. 

Two of these troublesome employees were programmers and could get away with almost anything because they were so badly needed. The third person was a customer service gal.

Our manager enlisted my help in trying to get her to see a better way. A workshop titled “Dealing with Difficult People” was coming to town, so he asked me to invite “Mary” to attend with me. I was a customer service rep/technical writer so it made sense for the two of us to go together. 

Mary wasn’t thrilled about “wasting” a day, but decided to go for the free lunch and time off the phones. The workshop was 6 hours long and I enjoyed the discussion. As we drove back to the office, Mary was quiet. I thought she was “self-reflecting,” mulling over the day’s message and how she could apply it. Then Mary said this:

“Wow, the instructor sure was right. The people we have to work with are impossible!” 

Needless to say, John, nothing changed in our office as a result of that excursion. Soon after, I quit to take a job at our local hospital and was followed by five other frustrated folks! Mr. Nice Guy manager was left behind with an impossible situation that he could not fix.

Between that experience and others over the years, I have come to truly understand that I can only fix/change me. I’m more at peace with myself and those around me now. The QBQ! book is one that I have valued in my life journey.

Thank you, Annetta, for a powerful reminder of a truth that continually bears repeating!

Putting This Truth To Work

If you have followed us at for a while, you know I’m going to ask these questions:

Who have you been trying to change?

How has trying to “fix” them affected the relationship?

What will you now do differently?

Dive right in, folks, and share here if you want. We’d love to hear from you!

Leave a comment and we’ll draw a winner to receive a brand new The QBQ! Workbook

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5 Responses

  1. Toxic people…hmmm. Hard to deal with, difficult to get rid of. Oftentimes are invisible to management. Especially if your manager isn’t highly involved in the daily operation of the business. All you can do is remain positive and point out the good in things and try to redirect or deflect their comments. It’s grueling work and can make the environment difficult for everyone!

  2. I love repetition! As my husband always says, “Tell ’em, tell ’em what you told, then tell ’em again!”
    You can’t repeat key principles often enough. This is a powerful message. . .I can only change ME!
    If/when we finally get the message that we can only change ourselves we will start focusing on how to respond and react to the difficult and toxic people differently. It is amazing how positive attracts positive!

  3. Sometimes when you see others at work
    May may say to yourself “what a jerk”
    When your focus should be
    What can I do to change me
    A new and improved me is a great perk

  4. I love this quote “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new” Socrates How many times have I spent hours fight the change instead of building on the new. I wasted time and forfeited many opportunities.

  5. QBQ was required reading for a professional enrichment course I am attending. However, the message resonates and can be applied in most any workplace. I am currently trying to deal with my own toxic co-worker situation and hope to be successful in applying some of the QBQ principles to manage it more positively.

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