5 Lessons Learned When I Quit Making Excuses

Ancient proverb: “A man resembling a beached whale must travel a journey beginning with a single step.”

WL journey final

When I saw the picture on the far left seconds after it was taken April 8, 2012, I knew a “first step” was needed. The next day—at 195 pounds—my journey began …

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The 3 Components of Personal Change

I just can’t resist using these pictures I took near our Colorado home, because every single time I see this scene I wonder this:

Do I do anything over and over that fails to generate a positive result?


On the left we see a driveway overrun with weeds, and a small formerly attached garage in the background. I say “formerly” because the house it was attached to burned down three years ago.

On the right we see several issues of the weekend Denver Post, tossed there by a delivery person week after week even though the house at this address burned down three years ago!

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Do Not Train! Unless …

Here’s a question every organization can ask:

What problem do we have that would be solved by a positive change in our people’s thinking, emotions, and behaviors?

This email came from a prospective QBQ! client:

“We are a large manufacturer of industrial products and we ship to customers all around the world. Our plant is operating six to seven days a week with very little down time, causing fatigue and tension between our teams. We hear a lot of ‘It’s not my fault’ and ‘I am a victim’ stuff, along with the ever popular blame game.”

Now that’s real stuff.

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It’s the Cool Managers Who Appreciate People

New at the QBQ.com store is our fun, practical, and meaningful QBQ! poster: 

Ten Truths of Personal Accountability

And now, our newest blog post … 

Char bent

I had just finished teaching 20 of the “47 Ways to Be Exceptional” from our Outstanding! book at a cancer research hospital, when the Director of Anesthesiology asked, “How do I do some of that stuff like your manager did in the houseplant story you told?”

And I thought, Well, nice to know my content is still relevant.

You see, in the corporate world, people (Read: fad crazy executives and their HR, training, and OD departments) are always searching for the next magic solution or bolt of white lightening to fix the problems faced. It’s too bad they waste time, money, and energy chasing the latest training craze, when all they need to do is return to the fundamentals.

A few questions:

Want a stronger, more positive organizational culture? Engaged people?

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Another’s Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Pollute

PicMonkey Collage

Disgusting! Why would anyone do such a terrible thing? How can they think it’s okay? Who are these bad people? 

I bet that is your reaction to these images of garbage dumped along a winding dirt road a mile west of the Miller home in Colorado. Mine, too. And if we’re honest, our underlying thought is this:

I wouldn’t do such a thing!

In fact, 99.9% of us would never dump garbage like that. But, I am afraid that we do. We dump garbage … on people. Here’s how we might pollute the mind of another at work:

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3 Excuses Accountable People Never Make

If you came of age in the 1970s like I did, you heard this all-encompassing excuse more times than you could count:

The devil made me do it!

It’s a good thing that the “me decade” with its embarrassing clothing, disco music, and blame-the-devil-for-all-things excuse is long gone, eh?

Yet, though disco may be dead, I’m not sure the whole excuse-making thing is. Ever heard stuff like this?:

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Embarrassment: Bad For Me, Bad For Others

I don’t have PhD in Psychology—not anything close. What I do have is a BS in Selling. (No jokes, please.)

But allow me to practice some psychology with this statement:

The #1 reason humans lie and blame is to avoid the incredible power of … EMBARRASSMENT.

Have you ever lied?

And I don’t mean as a child.  

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Being Accountable: Living Above the Fray

above the fray I snapped this picture flying from Denver to Los Angeles this week. Though it appears that I was above the Colorado Rockies, or above the clouds, I was actually above the fray.

And it was wonderful to be there.

I believe in free speech and, like you, I’d defend someone’s right to speak freely even if what they say is contrary to my beliefs. But I fear that sometimes, in this great land of ours, we have taken “free speech” to an extreme place, where people—can you imagine!?!—share opinions without knowledge.

It might be best to just stay above the fray.

Here’s what I know:

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Build Character: Teaching Accountability to Youth

ioi-book-pageOver five years ago, while still working as a university academic adviser, I started off my career with QBQ, Inc. as the “youth face” of the organization. (Because, well, let’s face it—between my dad and me, who’s going to connect more with Generation Y?) Using my vacation days, I’d travel to share the message of “Personal Accountability and the QBQ!” with teens and college students across the country.

Here is an email I received from a student:

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Accountability: Bringing a “Coach” Into My Life

Pruning - it's a good thing!Pruning – it’s a good thing!

On one of my walks that keep me from becoming a “beached whale” again, I observed this Colorado homeowner doing some serious pruning of a much-too-crowded, old grove of trees. My first thought was, That looks so much better. Wonder why he didn’t do it five years ago?

My second thought was, 1987. 

That year my dad came from Ithaca, NY to visit Karen and me in Brooklyn Center, MN. On the last day of his visit, when I carried his suitcase to the car, I found him standing on our quiet street studying our modest split-level home. After a moment or two of reflection, he said, “You know, son, taking down that big pine tree would really open up your yard and let people see your nice home.”

But I love that tree! I thought.

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