Personal Accountability: My Attitude of Gratitude

Cereal. We all love cereal. There are “kid” cereals and “adult” cereals—and the truth is adults don’t mind a bowl of Fruit Loops or Captain Crunch now and then, do we? Come on, admit it!

But seriously, when it comes to cereal, do we have choices or what?!

You know, I’m not one of those guys who attempts to shame people into feeling thankful for all we have in America—but I do need to be personally accountable and work on me.

The good news is, I actually felt a little guilty today when I was in a grocery store and saw my options.

Overflowing, ever-present abundance!Overflowing, ever-present abundance!

I even thought, Am I thankful for all my choices?!?

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Employee Engagement: It’s All About the Manager

In spite of the continued wave of trendy training, “employee engagement” is not a program.

Yep, you heard it here first. No matter what outside consultants are telling your executives, HR department, and training people, employee engagement is just not a corporate wide, culturally driven initiative.

Or at least, it shouldn’t be.

Then what is it?

It is what good managers do.

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Tend to the Little Things: “Above and Beyond” Service

I’ve engaged in around-the-world travel for two decades. I’ve stayed in so many hotels, they now all look alike. I’m sure the hotel chain marketing execs who work hard to create “brand loyalty” would cringe at that, but it’s true. Truthfully, I’m not very hard to please. If my room has a bed, TV, running water, and a coffee pot—I am very happy.

But recently, I stayed at the South Seas Island Resort on Captiva Island, Florida, and witnessed something I’ve never seen before. This:

Trust me, I didn’t fold them.

Now, the place wasn’t perfect. The room service was limited and an A/C unit in the bathroom ceiling dripped some water that I had to mop up—but I’d go back. Why? Well, the 78 degree temps in January help, but mostly because an unnamed housekeeping person went above and beyond.

When I saw those clothes on my extra bed that day, a gas station back home immediately came to mind.

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Parenting With QBQ: Raising Contrarians

How many of us heard this while growing up?

“Well, if he jumped off a bridge, would you???”

There’s a whole bunch of parental wisdom in that question!

In the late 1960s in Ithaca, NY, as I headed to my best friend Randy’s house about a mile up the road, my mom would instruct me, “Remember, Johnny, always walk against the traffic.”

I wonder if she was helping an 11-year-old stay safe or giving outstanding life advice—or both?

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How to Practice “The Rock” of Accountability

Personal accountability and ownership are impossible to separate. Tough to have one without the other.

In our home Karen schedules doctors and dentists and provides our adult kids a most patient ear when they call from four states away. I check bank balances, set up airline reservations, and pick up dog mess in the yard (TMI? Sorry). We simply have defined parental and household duties.

So when the next Miller teen hit the WHEN AM I GONNA GET MY DRIVER’S LICENSE?!? stage, we all knew the job would fall to me. I handle the driver training and always have. Done it four times now. I’ve got experience!


But, this time, I blew it.

On Saturday afternoon, the teen daughter who hardly knows the difference between the brake and gas pedals and I were heading home. We live out in the Colorado country where young people have practiced driving on back roads since the dawn of the automobile. So, a half mile from our house, I put her in the driver’s seat and after thirty seconds of “training” said, “Go!”

She went—and did fine all the way to our driveway. Well, there was some swerving, but no harm done since we didn’t see another vehicle. But as we got to our drive, flanked by two huge boulders, I thought, Hmm, I should take the wheel now and turn into the driveway and park.

But I didn’t. I had a mental lapse. I assumed too much. And I got lazy. I mean, it’d be too much work to switch seats now. So I said, ”Go ahead and turn in. You can do it.”

Boy, do I ever wish I had a “do over.”

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5 Questions to Eliminate Entitlement Thinking

Entitlement thinking … it’s not necessarily a new phenomenon, and yet, it seems to be running rampant in our society. Or, to be more precise, in me.

I’m shocked at how often I find myself succumbing to the temptation to wallow in a victim mindset. Why? Because I was raised in a family that taught me to avoid it, and I work for aEntitlement-thinking company that teaches others how to recognize and run from it! This shows just how easy it is to fall into the trap of entitlement—and just how needed The Question Behind the Question (QBQ) is, since it’s a tool that helps us eliminate entitlement thinking by asking better questions.

Let me share some examples of lousy questions from my life recently:

“When is someone going to teach me how to use WordPress?”

“Why don’t the 10 sit-ups a week I do make any difference?”

“Who’s going to step up to mentor me in this phase of life?”

Instead of challenging myself to takes risks, plunge ahead, seek help, or enjoy life, these questions, all in their own way, lead me to victim and entitlement thinking. And away from personal accountability.

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Accountable Men: Wedding Rings and Fatherhood

Outstanding men work – and practice personal accountability.

Is there anything you hate leaving the house without? Cell? Chapstick? Make-up? Driver’s license? For me, it’s always been my wallet – and my watch. The latter because I just want to know what time it is, all the time. But it turns out there’s something I miss even more when I don’t have it, I just didn’t know!

My wedding ring.

A week ago, our 30-year-old oldest – @KristinLindeen – and I were sitting in a Florida restaurant chatting with a delightful new friend, Angela. Suddenly, Kristin said, “Dad, where is your wedding ring???” I looked at my left hand and for the first time since 6/21/80, it was unadorned!

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Accountability and Frugality

Frugal defined: Economical in use or expenditure; prudently saving; not wasteful

For the longest time I’ve enjoyed telling groups, “I have only one famous friend and his name is Dave Ramsey.” Of course, if you have never heard of him then I guess he’s not all that famous! But I really don’t know Big Time Celebrities. The closest I got was one in my own industry when a gent named Zig Ziglar phoned me a few years ago to tell me that a friend had given him the QBQ! book and he loved it. My mailing address was “Cloud Nine” for a week!

Anyway, this past weekend, Kristin and I attended a conference called BEECH Retreat where I keynoted on Saturday morning and we learned more about blogging. Michael Hyatt spoke Saturday night and that was fun. But we did get to meet another “famous” person – at least one in her world: Crystal Paine, The Money Saving Mom. What a treat! I mean, even my wife @QBQMom follows her! And it was a blessing to meet Crystal not just because of the person she is – focused, smart, high energy, and wife to Jesse and mom of three – but because of how she helps people. She helps them live financially more effectively and efficiently … and there ain’t nothing wrong with that!

Money Saving Mom and The QBQ! GuyMoney Saving Mom and The QBQ! Guy

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Be Outstanding … Do Not Get Fired!

We all know that organizations fire people, but as we say in Outstanding!, people fire organizations.

Recently, while conducting a “Be Outstanding!” day of training with a senior management team representing a well-known appliance manufacturer, I asked them to each identify an organization they’ve fired; that is, one they will never do business with again—and why. Every single person in the room had an example. Here are some:

  • Car dealer: Pushy salesperson using 1970’s strong arm closing tactics.
  • Hair salon: Stylist left chemicals in client’s hair too long while on cell phone. Hair had to be cut off!
  • Wireless carrier: Billed customer three times after payment made.
  • Fast food: Manager and assistant manager using foul language at counter.
  • Barber: New owner disregarded customer’s longtime loyalty, insisting he make an appointment.
  • Satellite TV: Complete and total apathy on phone regarding customer problem.
  • Doctor: Arrogance and haste, resulting in misdiagnosis of a child’s illness (not life-threatening).
  • Golf course: Comment made by employee that felt insulting to member.
  • Auto body shop: Overcharged … didn’t stay within the estimate.
  • Gas station: Cheap gas advertised outside but the price could only be obtained by paying inside—and maybe buying mints, coffee, and a newspaper.
  • Health club: Messy, dirty.
  • Tailor: Cold personality, condescending tone. Never greets customer.

I shared an example, too. I’ve fired a post office.

Where we live 15 miles northeast of Denver, Colorado, I can choose between four PO’s to use. That’s right—four. Some, of course, are closer than others. They are 9 miles south, 7 miles northwest, 5 miles west, and 10 miles north. And that northern one has a built-in logistical advantage for the Millers: It is only blocks from the school we take our kids to and pick them up from five days per week, thirty-six weeks per year, year in and year out. How convenient!

But I will never go back.

Why? Well, it’s hard to pinpoint, but let me try. Slow. Apathetic. Solemn. Lethargic.

Did I mention S-L-O-W???

I’ve felt this way for a long time, but a couple years ago I decided to risk it again on a Saturday. I had to get some books shipped that weekend and with other errands to run in town, I thought, Well, I’ll give the Brighton, Colorado P.O. another shot. How magnanimous of me!

And this I what I saw:


Never. Again.

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Personal Accountability: A Reader’s Summary of QBQ!

Kimberly, a Community Relations Administrator for Delta Dental of New Jersey, Inc., wrote up this summary of the QBQ! book. It’s so excellent, I thought I’d share it all with you. I love the title she gave it. Enjoy! 

I Can Only Change Me

In John G. Miller’s book QBQ The Question Behind the Question he speaks about what to really ask yourself to eliminate blame, complaining, and procrastination. He discusses how people tend to blame others for personal and professional troubles. Miller believes in personal accountability – taking responsibility for one’s actions, problems, and feelings instead of blaming others.

Miller believes in changing the questions we ask ourselves from negative (Why do we have to go through all this change? Or, Who dropped the ball?) to more solution-based “I” questions (What can I do to contribute? Or, How can I help solve the problem?)

One of the chapters in QBQ! is called “I Can Only Change Me” and in this chapter Miller reminds us that when dealing with any circumstance the only person that can change is – one’s self.

Perhaps you’re a supervisor who’s dealing with a difficult employee. You do your best to change the employee’s attitude and nothing is working. The attitude you should be changing is your own. A supervisor’s role is to coach and counsel – not to change another person. Change is something that occurs internally – a result of decisions made by the individual. The same applies for the reverse – an employee who works for a difficult supervisor. The employee cannot change the supervisor – the only aspect the employee can change is him or herself and how he or she deals with the difficult supervisor.

Each of us may be aware that the only person each of us can change is our self; however, there’s a big difference between understanding this concept and actually living it.

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