John G. Miller on Life and Leadership
I read so many books that my head is bigger than my feet. In other words, I know more than I’m practicing. John Miller’s book, “QBQ: The Question behind the Question,” reached my feet and changed my attitude in several ways. Here’s part of a recent conversation I had with John.
Leadership Freak (LF): John, I’m thankful you’re sharing your insights with the Leadership Freak community. Let’s jump right in. Could you tell us about a tipping point in your life?
John Miller (JM): Dan, thanks for asking me to share. The years from 1986 to 1989 were my tipping point. Previous to ’86 I was frustrated with my career path. But from ’86 to ’89 I found my passion and I found a mentor. Those two things were pivotal to my success today.
LF: Could you tell me more?
JM: My mentor helped change my life by sending me a message of belief. He said, “I believe in you.” He also taught me everything he knew about selling and selling became my passion. Finding my passion for selling and a gifted mentor changed my life. You might be interested to know that my mentor now represents QBQ, Inc. selling QBQ! training!
LF: That’s so cool, John. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that a mentor has created a platform that helps mentees break through to new levels of fulfillment and success.
New topic, what are the “must have” qualities for leaders?
JM: First, successful leaders model the behaviors they expect from others. Modeling is the most powerful of all teachers. Second, humility is the cornerstone of leadership.
LF: Talk to me about humility.
JM: Sometimes a leader’s ego makes them believe people serve them. Pride makes us focus on ourselves. Successful leaders humbly focus on others. Executives hire me to come in and change their people. That’s the position of pride. About 30 minutes into a typical session, they begin realizing they need this too. That’s the position of humility.
Rather than blaming, humble leaders practice personal accountability by asking questions like, “What can I do to create a culture of success?”
More on John and QBQ at http://qbq.com/
QBQ! QuickNote sign up page: http://qbq.com/quicknotes.php
Finding a mentor and his passion for sales created a tipping point in John’s life. What tipping points changed your life?
My conversation with John got me thinking about tipping points and passion.
Most recently finding my own passion included embracing my dissatisfaction. I think I’ve spent too much of life pretending and/or accepting things that really weren’t working. Having the honesty and courage to say I’m not happy with the way things are going was the first step to creating a tipping point in my own life.
An important component of this was saying, “I’m not happy with me.” Embracing my dissatisfaction was not about others. Embracing dissatisfaction with others may simply be another expression of victim mentality.
Thank you for sharing John’s tipping point and your own. It’s such a great and reflective question to put out there.
My own tipping point came some years ago when my dear father died. Although he was in his late 80’s, I thought about how fleeting life is and how precious every day is. He always said, “What is important in life is to love what you do”. However, it took his death for me to leave the practice of law which I didn’t love and I haven’t looked back.
You honor us with your story. I think one of life’s surprises is how beauty and sorrow can be closely related.
Like you, a death helped me appreciate life. When my grandfather died the world seem empty. I think disconnecting the transitory things of this world can help us focus on larger issues.
The tipping points that changed my life are many: power of truth and honesty that I learned in my family. I learned the Courage to stand for truth and honesty, passion to follow truth and honesty and also learned to be change to see change. Family values have profound impact on me. At AIM,Manila, during my master in management program, same values were reinforced, appreciated and practiced. That made my belief more powerful. I believe that leaders should have unbending belief in their values. They should have clear ideas about which values they will hold and which values they shift, change, modify or correct.
I agree that leaders should have humility, but more than that leaders should know when to follow humility. Situation and time is deciding factor to follow humility. Being honest with incorrigible dishonest person is not a good move. So, person should know, when and with whom this policy works.
I believe that passion is the product of interest and effort. High interest and more effort produce stronger passion. So, firm belief arouses passion and belief make you feel proud.
I enjoy how “belief” is integrated through most of your comment.
The things we believe have tremendous impact on all of life. Your comment made me think about some of the the things I believe.
Additionally, you made me think of the impact my dad has on my life. He’s the hardest working guy I know. I learned to work from him.
Thanks for giving back to the community,
Ajay is a featured contributor on Leadership Freak. Read his bio at: http://leadershipfreak.wordpress.com/ajay-gupta
I grew up watching my dad lead people in our community and witnessed the roller coaster ride he had. I wondered why other dads follow him as i didn’t know much about leadership. He taught me one thing and would repeatedly remind me that i thought my ear would in the end bleed- humility. I realized, humility is a powerful character and will help u succeed whichever industry you decide to work for. I am glad to have a dad who admonish me on humility but who modeled the character to me.
Wow, your comment is a wonderful affirmation of John’s message. I’m so glad you took the time to join the conversation and add value to others.
I’m a long-time fan of John, and have hired his company (his co-author in fact) to speak for a company I once worked for.
What I really like about John’s work, is that in addition to the examples of modeling, and humility, there is this message to remain relentless and conscious in our self-accountabiity—and the reminder that when we stray from this, we need to come back again and again. Along the way, we discover our self-leadership, which, in my view, is where all real leadership begins.
I hearty hello and well-wishes to John Miller, and of course, best to you, Dan!
Great seeing you again. Thanks for endorsing John, his books, and organization. I’m excited to review his book next week, give away some copies, and offer a special price on case lots. I think everyone should read QBQ.
Your remark about self-leadership is so valuable. It’s taken me years to see me for who I am and have the courage to pursue those things that both fulfill and create my passion.
Best to you,
Thanks for featuring John’s book, I’ll look forward to reading it.
My tipping point was when Russell L. Ackoff asked me if I wanted to pursue a PhD in systemic management and, if so, he wanted to be on my dissertation committee. Known as the Einstein of systems thinking, Russ provided such incredible insight into the world from a systems thinking perspective it totally changed my view of the world and the people around me. Unfortunately, Russ passed away a little over a year ago.
There’s something special about reading how someone “tipped” your life. It’s amazing how one person can make such a huge difference.
It makes me want to be the kind of person that “tips” others.
Jim is a featured contributor on Leadership Freak. YOu can read his bio at http://leadershipfreak.wordpress.com/jim-leemann
BTW Jim… QBQ is one of those very short reads that encourages, enlightens and helps people grow.
At first glance you might think its a shallow self-help book thats filled with fluff. Even though it’s not “deep” it’s practical with one simple message, take responsibility for your life.
What tipping points changed your life?
Wow, well there’s a question that should generate some interesting responses. I think/hope I am on the verge of allowing another one to force a change, but to hark back to a past one: I grew up in a home that supported my involvement in organized religion. There were points when I was 8, 9, 10, when I was esssentially going on my own, with my parents sending me to Sunday School by myself and then meeting me for church. I think I was about 10 when I first made a formal profession of faith in this denomination, an action that had a major, huge role in the next 8 years. The summer after high school, I spent being a “summer missionary,” knocking on strangers’ doors and trying to convince them to do faith my way. As I began going through my college years, it seemed that hanging on to a theology and “script” that I had adopted at the age of 10 was something that was in my head but not my heart. I vividly remember a minister I was canvassing with leading a woman to make an important decision about faith, and him pumping his hands up and down after we left her house, in an “I’ve got one!” kind of way – he made some statement that it had been a “long time,” sort of akin to a “dry spell” in sports – I think at that moment I saw that it was easy for these interactions about faith to become more about accumulating “achievements” than really being sure people had been facilitated to make their own life changing decisions. A few years later, a very wise minister heard all of this out. I went through the same baptism ceremony I had when I was 10, in the same denomination, but something changed after that – I stopped feeling/believing that religion depended on one particular “script” and changed the way I related with people of all (or no) denominations. It has continued to be a pillar of my personal approach. I guess how that ties in to your and John’s conversation is “humility” – understanding that the other individual is as important to a faith decision as is the material I was sharing.
Let me honor you for your candor and integrity. Sometimes when people share their faith it’s obvious they are just trying to manipulate others. I see none of that in your comment.
You have my respect,
Paula is a featured contributor on Leadership Freak. Read her bio at: http://leadershipfreak.wordpress.com/paula-kiger
Wow, sounds like a very educational and informative book. I will look forward to reading this book.
Walter, be sure to stop in Monday and leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of one of John’s books. Best, Dan
Good morning Dan. I have read QBQ and Flipping the Switch and could not agree more with the comments regarding John Miller’s work. He certainly is a gifted individual that can in simple words make profound and deep reaching statements. What was the tipping point in my development? Well looking back through time, I must start with the modeling and work ethic of my parents. My Dad in particular taught me that if you can “dream it then it can happen.” My father never saw the inside of a classroom but to this day stands as one of the smartest and kindest persons I am privileged to know. His dream was always for his four children to have an education something his socio-economic status never allowed him to have. I can happily say that all four of his children did get that education and two of them as Richard Gere says in the movie “Pretty Woman” went all the way. My father’s passion and drive clearly has changed my life for sure. My second tipping point occurred when I married my grammar school sweetheart. Here was a lady who is and always has been the eternal optimist, who believes and practices, that positive attracts positive, who understands that to see the rainbow we must endure a little rain. She has been and is “my rock” and I dare say I am not sure my resilience would have survived my third tipping point without her constant support and motivation. Personal Cataclysms have ever lasting effects and blessed with positivity surrounding me, I took refuge and strength in refocusing my priorities and leading a much more fulfilling and happier life. I have learned that losing a daughter and being diagnosed with the big “C” is not the end of the world. “It takes as much energy to be miserable as it does to be happy.” (don’t remember who said that but it is true) So being able to channel all that energy towards helping others, turning what on the surface appears so sullen and negative into an impetus to aid, console, support and yes love your fellow man. We are all students and all teachers and everyone brings something viable to the table if one does more than just stare and really contemplate and take a deep look. My father would always tell me “son always look down the ladder not up” you will reach more personal fulfillment and gratification and if you can ever lend a hand to those below then you will really grasp and understand what true joy and happiness is.” I did not “get it then” and it has taken me a while but no doubt my dad was right and again so smart and visionary in his own special way. So yes all three major tipping points have exponentially propelled me “here.” I read a lot and don’t always remember who said it or where I read it but this sticks with me and appears to complement where I am at this moment. “Righteousness of the heart leads to beauty of the character, beauty of the character leads to harmony in the home, harmony in the home leads to order in the nation, and order in the nation leads to peace.” Salaam, Al
You’ve left many great comments that enhance the Leadership Freak community. None compare to this one.
I was planning to comment on a few of your key points but can’t bring myself to pollute what you’ve said.
Al is a featured contributor on Leadership Freak. You can read his bio at: http://leadershipfreak.wordpress.com/al-diaz
Dan, John is absolutely right RE modeling. If there isn’t congruity between what is modeled and what is expected, confusion reigns.
I was talking to someone just yesterday about a situation in their office involving an employee who is apparently abusing the understood rule of prompt attendance. We concluded that the lower the character of the team, the thicker the employee handbook.
Leaders model the right character.
I’m always glad to see that you’ve stopped in and shared your perspective and insights.
In particular, thanks for leaving this little gem, “the lower the character of the team, the thicker the employee handbook.”
Dan, thanks for the interview and for sharing my QBQ! book with so many fine people. I am enjoying the comments, the wisdom, the insights. I am at John@QBQ.com if anyone wants to send me a direct note by old-fashioned email. I mean, I am 52, after all! Blessings!
Thanks for generously sharing. I’m looking forward to reviewing your book Monday.
Email? whats email?
Great book and great question. Thanks for bringing it to your blog. My own tipping point came to me over a period of many years. I grew up the son of a mechanic. I aways knew that I wanted something more for my own life. As I grew older I started to realize that I was on the path to a life of hard manual labor (I also have a great respect for people who do this kind of work…just not for me.) I then got lucky and ran into a mentor! He CHANGED MY LIFE by changing the way I think!
Keep up the good work Dan…Be safe!
I hope your story helps others seek out mentors and also commit to being mentors. It’s such a powerful opportunity to make a difference.
I’d love to win a copy of this book. I am always looking for better ways to communicate.