Personal Accountability Is For … ?!?

Personal Accountability QBQ

I checked in on Twitter (@QBQGuy) and saw that someone had posted a photo of the QBQ! book, saying, “My next read!”

I was honored.

Then I noticed the rest of the Tweet: “QBQ! is about holding people accountable!”

So I hung my head and sighed.

Don’t get me wrong … I was thrilled for the social media plug. What hit me, though, was this thought:

Nothing has changed.

What hasn’t changed? This myth:

Personal Accountability is all about … others.

Ah, no.

In 1996, I was in Tampa to keynote for a group of 700 pharma reps. I’d only been speaking for about a year, so this was going to be fun!

When my “Personal Accountability & the QBQ!” keynote was over, I stepped down from the platform. At that moment, the national sales manager reached the lectern, leaned into the mic, and said this to his 699 colleagues:

“Hope you listened because you all needed to hear that today.”

Ah, no.

A year later, in Minneapolis, I finished my session and left the stage. The CEO took my spot and pressed a button that projected this image:

“Personal Accountability begins with … YOU!”

Ah, no.

In a more “relational” and personal context, I know of dads who’ve given the QBQ! book to their sons and moms to their daughters. And don’t get me started on how many husbands have left the book by the coffee pot for her to see or the wives who’ve placed a copy on his nightstand!

Then there are the managers who’ve handed them out to staff.

Of course, this author isn’t complaining. 🙂

And now, with Parenting the QBQ Way on the market, we’ve had a bunch of parents—before they got the book—say, “Terrific! A book I can use to …

“ … make my 12-year-old do his homework!”

“ … teach my teenager to speak to me more respectfully!”

“ … get my twentysomething off the couch and into the workforce!”

Ah, no.

FYI: Our parenting book is not for the kids. It’s for Mom and Dad.

Now, I know you could be thinking, But, John, I really do know people who need more accountability in their life! I’d love to see them reap the benefits of practicing it!

Fine, then here’s how you do it:

Hand that person the QBQ! book and say, “I’ve read this three times. I’m really working on me. Would you read it now and let me know how I’m doing working on me?”

Trust me, they’ll be eager to read it. Who knows, maybe they’ll find something in it for themselves, too.

And there’s nothin’ wrong with that!


Who have YOU been trying to change?

Feel free to share here with a comment below!

(If you are not subscribed, please do so here)

35 Responses

  1. Reminds me of when I’m sitting in church during a convicting sermon and I elbow my wife, “I hope you are listening to this” or when I look over my shoulder and say, “Boy, I’m glad Todd is here, he really needs this.” Yes, both Todd and my wife may need to hear that message but I’ve found there is always plenty for me to digest first. QBQ is for me first. Thanks for the reminder.

  2. It was so great doing a podcast with you yesterday! You put in your book what I have been thinking in my head for ages and is such a great reminder to look in the mirror first! It starts with me!

  3. Thanks John. Needed this reminder today. There is only person I can ever hoping to change!!! Thanks for helping me along on my journey. You certianly made a difference.


  4. John, I’ve worked at my corporation for 18 years, and we have been given a ton of books by our management. Books about Fish, Cheese, finding your talent and the sort. I probably needed to hear each “message”, but the very first book that actually MOVED me to CHANGE my attitude was QBQ! After reading your book, I achieved the highest assessment rating three consecutive years (which most co-workers often commented “don’t waste your time trying to get a “strong” rating…no one gets that rating”) They are still at that job and I got a promotion! I met and married my wonderful husband (we were both single / no kids until we met in our mid-40s). And I owe it all….to ME! for being Personally Accountable (thanks to a nudge from YOU!). Thank you so ever much, my life is much richer the QBQ! way. I do stumble…just not so often…and I know better how to recognize it and get back on track. There are people I would love to have read your book, so thank you for the wonderful suggestion of how to introduce it in an “accountable” way. MANY thanks!

    1. Betsy, what can I say? So humbled. Powerful note. Thank you for committing to the life-changing principle of personal accountability. Please come again to our site and share your wisdom.

  5. Really enjoyed reading this. Excellent reminder for ME! 🙂 Not others. I’ve been using your QBQ principles and catch myself when I get caught in the “blame game.” Accountability is much more empowering than blaming others. I’ve learned when I take responsibility for me and my role in things instead of saying so-and-so shoulda, woulda, coulda I also gain respect for myself and from others. Thanks!

  6. For the last month or so, I’ve been focused on ME. That is, we’ve been going through busy times at work and my “plate” has become stacked. And I’ve become concerned that I will not be able to meet deadlines or expectations. Therfore, I control my thoughts; I control my accountability to others who depend on me; I control meeting deadlines. Accountability starts with ME. Thanks John for the great note today!

  7. Maybe the guy intending to read your book will finally get the self-accountability afterward or during the read. The others obviously need to ruminate.

  8. Giving the tweeter the the benefit of the doubt. He hasn’t read the book yet so he doesn’t understand yet.

    1. Yes, Cathy, you’re right. Just interesting how when people HEAR of QBQ! and how it’s about accountability, they often quickly ASSUME it’s about “Holding others accountable.”

  9. I think it is human nature when you hear or see something beneficial, it comes to mind WHO ELSE needs to hear this. I have to keep reminding myself how hard it is to change myself, let alone attempt to change others. And yes, I am trying to change myself.

  10. John, as I read your post I am proud to say your teachings have become a part of who I am. While personal accountability pertains to everyone, it has to start with me first. -Archie

    1. Because my Lord knows I have my hands FULL with the fellow I look at in the mirror every day! 🙂

  11. I am working on me and failing big time. Although Life has gotten so much better since I stopped trying to change others. Maybe I’m not failing as big as I thought. Hmmm 🙂

  12. I have to admit that I have been recommending the book all wrong!!! My good intentions are usually based on a conversation with someone that I think could benefit from reading QBQ. You know what they say about good intentions. Yikes. Having said this, it does not mean that I think I can fix someone else or even want to try, I have my hands full with me. Thank you for once again making me stop and consider a better way. I intend to change my approach, effective immediately.

  13. Oh man,
    I love the QBQ and having been on your email list for over a year I shared the QBQ with one of my bosses and was thrilled to find his interest and then it spread to the interest of our organization enough to make it to our manager retreat only to find that old habits die hard. Your message hit home though and I realize that I need to just keep personal responsibility at my best.

  14. Thanks, John! I’ve been handing out your book to new hires for the last few years. I’m going to start using the intro that you suggested: Hand that person the QBQ! book and say, “I’ve read this three times. I’m really working on me. Would you read it now and let me know how I’m doing working on me?” Brilliant! How can anyone resist reading after hearing that?

  15. Hi John,
    I realized today, that your book has kept me accountable in a new way for about ten years. I am glad that I read it very early in my career. I have taken ownership of your message. It has made me a better listener and a better team player. Thank you for your work!

  16. Thank you John ! For saying its “you” not them. I have that guy in my life who is trying to fix everyone else.

  17. John, thanks for reminding us who we need to focus on. I am reminded of 1 sentence with 9 of the most powerful two letter words: if it is to be it is up to me!

  18. John, sometimes it is a challenge not to want try to fix someone. And then I look in the mirror and know who that some is – me.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *