Personal Accountability: Fixing Me!

When I do a radio, TV, or podcast interview, I’m often asked this question:

“John, what is the number one take-away for people who read the QBQ! book or go through a ‘Personal Accountability and the QBQ!’ training session?”

I always answer, “Oh, that’s easy: I can only change me.”

When I say that, I am pretty sure some people listening are disagreeing, thinking, Well, maybe, but as a parent I can change my kids. And isn’t that what managers do at work?

Um, no.

Managers can coach, counsel, and confront till they’re blue in the face, but they can’t change a staff member any more than they can “motivate” that staff member.

Message to Managers: If you still think you can motivate your people, you’re living in the 1970’s.

And for dads and moms, the best parenting is accountable parenting. That means being willing to look into that all-important mirror to ask The Question Behind the Question (QBQ), because QBQs such as,  “How can I learn new parenting skills?” and “What can I do to be a more effective parent today?” make all the difference. In the end, strong, effective parents accept what we state on page 4 of Parenting the QBQ Way:

My child is a product of my parenting.

So, I’ll challenge each of us with just one question that strikes at the heart—the essence—of personal accountability and here it is:

Who have I been trying to fix???

Once you’ve answered this question, go to that person today by text, phone, email, or face-to-face, and say, “I’m sorry!” Then …

Let. It. Go.

Next, ask the QBQ, “What can I do to improve me?” Now that is personal accountability!

For Comment:

Come one, who have you been trying to fix? When will you approach this person? What will you say? How will each of you benefit?

We’d love to hear your candid thoughts!

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6 Responses

  1. I work with a person that sometimes drives me crazy. It took me a long time to realize that i could not change her ways, so now i look at what bothers me and just try to laugh. I have started to realize that it doesn’t affect me unless i let it, so now i just laugh about it when i go home and tell my husband the stories.

  2. Very timely topic John! We have a person in our office who has shown sub-par performance for some time now and every effort that has been made to “help” him improve has failed miserably! We have gone by the incorrect premise that “we can change him to be a better worker” but now I realize any change has to come from him, and him alone! That said, is there anything we can do to help this person along (aside from reading QBQ! of course!)

  3. Practicing this can be very difficult to do in the moment. I have had situations where I had a team member on a performance plan, and they needed to make a change or leave the organization. I would be asked it I thought they were going to make it. My answer is always that it is completely in that person’s hands at this point. They have been given all of the information, expectations, and they know exactly what they need to do. At this point, it up to them. I have found this to be true in parenting as well. As much as I would like to guide my daughter’s actions and make everything work out for her, she has to learn to make her own decisions and be accountable for the consequences.

  4. Spot on John!
    It’s actually freeing when you know where all the focused personal development needs to fall. I’ve found that the things that drive me crazy about other people are usually things that I’m guilty of as well.

  5. I had resorted to the “you will change or else” approach with my son. The fever of the relationship escalated to the point of me becoming physical with him. When I stepped back from that encounter, I took a long hard look at myself and didn’t like what I saw. I went to him with a heartfelt apology and vowed to change. Ten years later we are the best of friends while he now respects me instead of resenting me. And those bad behaviors of his vanished!

  6. Hey John, been awhile since I have responded to one of your posts. I believe that more managers and business owners have to understand this principle. We keep thinking that we can change people, but the change has to come from within. I can change performance, to some degree, by reward or punishment but I cannot change someone that is not willing to change themselves. Unfortunately I have had to fire a few of thes people over the years. This get to your point of self accountability. Without this it just does not work, cut your losses and move on.

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