Man in Hammock Loves QBQ!

People sometimes ask, “Why did you write the QBQ! book, John, and where’d you get the material for it?”

Well, here’s where I got it:


I sold leadership/management training for a decade, sitting in 10,000 hours of workshops with managers and frontline folks. Good people. 

Good people who asked bad questions, such as:

“Why do we have to go through more change?”

“When will I get the raise/promotion I deserve?”

“Who came up with that dumb idea?”

“When are we gonna find good people?”

“Who’s going to train me?”

“Why won’t that department do its job right?”

Now, the real problem with those questions for most is the lack of awareness. We don’t know two things:

1. That we ask them.

2. That they lead to blame, victim thinking/complaining, and procrastination.

Until it’s pointed out.

The QBQ! book points it out to each of us—gently.

And gentle is good.

Written by a food company district manager to his regional manager, this email was shared with me:

That QBQ! book you sent arrived Saturday. After some chores, I climbed into my backyard hammock to start reading.

Through the years, we in the field have received a ton of books that management felt would “help us,” but this book really hit a chord with me! I didn’t put it down till I finished it!

While reading QBQ! I kept thinking—just like the author said I would—Boy, if I could just get my team to read this, we could really go far!

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard—and asked, “If we could just go back to the time when … ” “Why don’t they … ?” “Who went and did that?!” and “When can we start doing things the way we used to?!”

One thing I have always stressed with my team is we need to focus on what we can control and let everything else go. QBQ! shows us how.

I’m excited about our future!

And that’s why I wrote the book. 

But what if someone has read QBQ!, follows this blog, experienced a session with a QBQ! speaker, or has been through their organization’s in-house QBQ! training program—and isn’t applying the material?

Well, a couple thoughts:

Applying content is a choice. Nobody can stop anyone from asking QBQs and living a life of personal accountability. (Now that’s worth reading again!)

Also, it’s critical we understand the learning process.

Here are the four stages of learning*—along with the appropriate “self-talk”:

AwarenessI could’ve had a V8!

AwkwardThis new way of thinking and acting is uncomfortable.

SkillfulI am able to readily apply my new knowledge.

Reflex ActionWithout thinking about it, I practice personal accountability.

(These stages of learning are found in chapter 34 of Outstanding!)

So, our friend in the hammock is at the V8 “aha moment” stage of awareness.

How about you? 

Mastered it? Struggling? Asking QBQs only now and then? 

Well, as we say in the book, “Repetition is the motor of learning”—so keep on keepin’ on. Over time, anybody can practice QBQ! 

Believe me, if I can do it, and the man in the hammock can do it—you can do it.


Which of the four learning stages are you at when applying QBQ!? Do you use QBQ! more at work or home?

Comment below!

*For more on LEARNING, don’t miss this JUST99WORDS piece!


2 Responses

  1. I too was like the man in the hammock (only I was in a jet on my home from a conference). Since that day, your books have been sitting on my desk were I see them everyday. Not a week goes by where I don’t open them and read a few pages. It reminds me that the only thing I can change is my attitude and the questions I ask. Thank you for all you have done. It has had a positive effect on my life, and the lives of those around me.

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