I just finished reading QBQ! The Question Behind the Question (Practicing Personal Accountability at Work and in Life), by John G. Miller. If you’re not familiar with it, I highly recommend it, and it’s a quick read. If you ARE familiar with it, I think you’re really going to like this post. In essence, as the name might suppose, the book offers solid advice on how to ask questions that are productive while owning responsibility for our ability to affect change.
The reading of the book was timely in that I was recently confronted with a situation wherein someone I know (and like) left a job. During her exit interview, she cited one of her reasons for leaving as “I didn’t feel like I got enough direction and support from management.” I am intimately familiar with this individual and the company for which she most recently worked. To be fair, this was a grievance served up as one bullet point among several as to why she chose to leave the company, but I got stuck on this one, because it sounded more like an excuse than a reason.
That type of thinking is addressed directly in the QBQ book, and it’s worth asking ourselves the difficult questions to understand our motivations. In this particular example, this individual was blaming the inaction of others for her dissatisfaction in her job. Were I to speak with her today, I would encourage her to ask questions that sound a lot like this:
- What could I have done in that job to better make my needs known?
- How could I have exercised greater initiative to own my success and grow it?
- What destructive habits have I created for myself that rob me of productivity?
and, perhaps most importantly…
- How could I have better supported those around me, thus encouraging them to contribute to my betterment?
These are all critical, introspective, honest, and important as hell questions to ask. These questions don’t assign blame to someone else. They allow us to ask questions of the one person who can answer them….. Our Own Self.
Conversely, if we spend our entire lives looking for the next person to blame, we’ll find them. We’ll blame them. We’ll absolve ourselves of responsibility for the choices that we make, and we’ll never…. get that ….. NEVER…. grow to realize the potential that exists within each of us.
Think of the luxury that exists in that relationship that we share with ourselves in our head. It is the one place where we can be completely honest. Completely! No one else gets a guest pass, and no one else gets to see what we write on the walls. It’s ours and ours only. Be brutal! We have to challenge ourselves. We have to be honest with ourselves.
If you realize that you’ve been feeding yourself a line, call bullshit on yourself! Get down in the weeds with your thoughts, your actions, your beliefs, and your blame of others. Call yourself to task, and reintroduce yourself to you. If you can look honestly at yourself, you will have a far greater chance of communicating yourself to others (and asking for honest feedback from them).
I would love to know how you’re challenging yourself and asking better questions! Feel free to share or let me know privately! Tomorrow Begins Today.