Thursday, December 27, 2007

good questions for '08

A couple days ago I was sitting in Barnes & Noble skim reading a book over a cup of joe (I love reading $25 dollar books for the cost of a cup of coffee). It was a simple little leadership book called, QBQ!, (which stands for the Question Behind the Question), which was written by John Miller to encourage leaders, coaches, mentors, and anybody else who wants to live more productive lives to start asking ourselves and others the real questions we need to ask to eliminate blaming, complaining, and procrastination.

Miller asserts that:
“Why” questions (Why me? Why this? Why do they…?) often leads to powerlessness, victim-like thinking.
“Who” questions (Who did that? Who didn’t do that?) often leads to blaming and scapegoating.
“When” questions (When will that happen?) often leads to procrastination

His principles of good questions are simple, but really helpful. They’re built on the conviction that we are accountable for our thinking and for our behavior, and that we’re free to choose differently, to think differently, and to live differently. Here are Miller’s 3 characteristics of good questions:

1. They start with “what” or “how,” not “why,” “who,” or “when.”
2. They contain an “I,” not a “they,” “them,” or “you.”
3. They contain an action word like “do,” “contribute,” or “build.”

Here are some really helpful examples of bad questions (BQ) we often ask ourselves and others, and good questions (GQ) we should start asking:

(BQ) Why don’t they communicate better?
(GQ) How can I better understand you?

(BQ) When is somebody going to train me?
(GQ) What can I do to develop myself?

(BQ) Who dropped the ball?
(GQ) How can I contribute right now?

(BQ) Why don’t people follow through?
(GQ) How can I be a better coach?

(BQ) When are they going to get it?
(GQ) How can I communicate better?

(BQ) Why is he so self-absorbed?
(GQ) How can I be a better friend?

Those are simple, but profound questions that move us towards greater personal responsibility and personal accountability, and that’s a pretty healthy direction I'd like to move in.


Sharon G said...

yeah, but that is so much harder - lol...

Thanks for the reminding me to take the log out instead of looking for the speck.

Keith Webb said...

Rob, I found that book a couple years ago. It's very interesting how subtle blame and deflection of responsibility is.

As I read the book I kept thinking about all the people I know who need to read and practice what this book teaches. Then I realized I'm doing exactly what I shouldn't, I'm looking "out there" to somebody else to change, get fixed, or be more reasonable. The problem runs deep - in me!

Another good book along these lines is Leadership and Self-Deception .

Rob Yackley said...

I loved Leadership and Self-Deception. It was extremely helpful a few months back when I was trying to understand how conflict subtly (or not so subtly) creeps into our lives and communities.

Anonymous said...

After reading this, I have the anticipation of trying to apply these principles. Some I could swear I already do, then I look harder to see it's just not a habit yet. God bless our good habits....

Doah said...

There are so many places for me to apply this. "How can I better understand you?" I need to be using at work, ministry, my home. Good stuff.

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