Personal Accountability: Doing Beats Thinking

I’ve been to a bunch of corporate conferences in my 20 years of keynote speaking on “Personal Accountability and the QBQ!” Usually, I can be found standing in the back of the ballroom waiting to present.

So I’ve heard lots of executives talk. Mostly, it’s industry and company specific info and technical in nature. READ: Dry and dull.

Or it is “‘rah rah’ you can succeed!!!” stuff. READ: Waste of time.

But once in a while, while admittedly half-listening, an alarm goes off in my brain.

Like yesterday.

I was waiting to deliver my accountability message to 600 Walmart managers in Arkansas when one of the execs quoted the CEO of Walmart U.S.—Greg Foran—who has said:

“You get 1 point for thinking it. You get 9 points for doing it.”

Wow. Good stuff. Pithy. Practical. Punchy. Powerful.

And personal. Personal accountability, that is—which has been the QBQ! message for two decades.

One line in the QBQ! book is this: “I’d rather be the person who is sometimes told to wait than be the person who waits to be told.”

You see, pondering doesn’t add value to the customer, the team, or the organization.

Getting stuff done does.

As I listened to Greg, my mind was taken back to a story I put in my first book years ago.

I was in the St. Louis airport waiting to fly home to Denver when I heard a young woman beseeching the gate agent to find a seat for her.

“If I don’t get on this flight, I’ll miss my connection and have to drive all night to get to Rapid City. It’s my parents’ 30th wedding anniversary and I need to be there!”


I had no deadline to be home, other than my own family—7 kids and all.

As she waited for the agent to scour his computer, I walked over and said, “So sorry. Must be frustrating. I hope you get on.”

She smiled.

Then, trying to relieve my own conscience, I added, “I actually had thought about giving you my seat, but I have a family to get home to myself … .”

She said, “Oh, how nice of you!”

Right then, a man who’d obviously been listening to our conversation, stepped up and said this:

“Young lady, ‘nice’ would’ve been doin’ it, not thinkin’ it.”

I agreed and we all had a good laugh.

He was right: It isn’t the thinkin’, it’s the doin’. Bold, courageous, positive thoughts don’t make the difference.

Bold, courageous, positive actions do.IMG_3458

So the CEO of Walmart U.S. agrees with the unnamed airport man from years ago, which reminds me that truth never gets old. And, as QBQ! books were passed out to all attendees, I felt good knowing the QBQ! message of personal accountability is right in line with Walmart values.

And that’s a good thing.

Today—right now—what action do you plan to take to add value? Share here!

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3 Responses

  1. Outstanding post! I’m going to use tomorrow and continually. I saw a John presentation years ago in PA, have QBQ! books to give to employees & see the improvement continually.

  2. I am a Coach and that’s what I do: Help clients close the gap for between thinking and doing! Love my new Tag Line. Thank you.
    It amazes me how often people don’t see how they get in their own way, CEO’s are no exceptions.

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