Flipping the Switch – John G. Miller [Book Summary]

by Nick

If you are attracted to brief, easy-to-understand and practical application of a manual to increase personal effectiveness, then you should like the continuation of John Miller’s book “Flipping the Switch”.

In his first book, the author explained: instead of wondering why we are constantly pursued by failure, we need to ask ourselves: “What can I do to improve the situation?”

The author called his approach QBQ, or “Question by Question”.

Asking the right questions, we stop complaining, blame others and start looking for our own solutions. That is, we begin to show personal responsibility.

In the sequel, Miller examines in detail the mechanism of personal responsibility formation and shows how to improve relations with others using the five basic principles that determine our actions.

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Flick Switch

Those who start asking questions using the QBQ method can be compared to a person who turns on an electric lamp.

A stream of energy is released that illuminates everything around. In the same way, the QBQ method includes an internal source of energy – personal responsibility.

This energy feeds the five fundamental principles of proactive thinking that determine our behavior and, ultimately, success:

1) gaining knowledge;

2) manifestation of responsibility;

3) manifestation of creativity;

4) service to others;

5) confidence building.

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What is QBQ

QBQ is a tool with which, firstly, they develop personal responsibility, and secondly, they choose the best solution at any given time. In other words, the QBQ method allows you to check how well you understand the situation and your role. The questions formulated in a certain way help to find out what is really happening and take what is happening under control.

“The fundamental principle of QBQ is this: the answers are in the questions.”

The QBQ method helps to change the usual way of thinking. Faced with a problem, many ask: “Why does all this happen to me?”; “Why do I constantly have to correct the mistakes of others?” But such questions affect only the external manifestations of the problem. It is much more productive to rely on personal responsibility and focus on its internal aspects. The questions will help with this: “What can I do to improve the situation?”; “What actions could aggravate the problem?”

“By ceasing to act responsibly (blaming others, complaining, introducing ourselves as a victim or putting off important matters for later), we also stop learning, control the situation, act creatively or help others.”

To use the QBQ method in practice, the following three conditions must be met:

  1. Ask questions that begin with the words “what” or “how”.
  2. Make sure that all questions contain the pronoun “I”.
  3. Ask questions related to specific actions.

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Why Personal Responsibility is So Important

Those who are constantly looking for the guilty, in fact, are not at all interested in solving the problems that have arisen. They experience remorse, blame others and wait for someone else to begin to correct the situation. Taking control of the situation will help develop a sense of personal responsibility. You can start this path by asking the right questions.

For example, instead of lamenting, exclaiming: “Why couldn’t I complete this transaction?”, It’s better to ask yourself a QBQ-question:

“What was the mistake of serving this client?”.

By answering it, you will begin to show personal responsibility and follow the fundamental principles of proactive thinking. Remember: personal responsibility is energy, and the QBQ method helps to “turn it on”.

The First Principle. Study All the Time

This principle helps employees, teams, and organizations become more creative, flexible and efficient. The process of acquiring new knowledge inspires a person, makes him more purposeful and interested in change. Correct questions will help you to tune in the right way: “How do I constantly learn new things?” Or “How do I put into practice what I learned?”

“Our goals become unattainable only when we stop going towards them.”

The following barriers can interfere with the acquisition of new knowledge:

  1. “Transfer”. Having heard useful advice, we often think that this does not concern us, that it would not hurt to know someone else. “Click the switch” and remember that we usually strive to instill in others those qualities that we should first acquire ourselves. Think about how this new knowledge would be useful to you.
  2. “Expectations”. Negative expectations often come true, turning into self-fulfilling prophecies. This prevents us from developing, learning, and enjoying life.
  3. “I have to.” Many expect someone to teach them everything. Especially often this approach can be seen in relation to training and personal growth. No, no one is required to do this. Gaining new knowledge and skills, as well as career growth, is completely your area of responsibility.
  4. “The trap of experience.” Sometimes it begins to seem to us that we have already achieved everything and are able to do everything. If you have this feeling, remember the “Titanic”, which everyone considered unsinkable. Even having gained experience, you should not stop in the acquisition of knowledge and development.
  5. “Rejection.” Do not overlook the remarks of a person whose ability to be a source of valuable information raises your doubts. If he is engaged in another type of activity, it seems to us that in our work he absolutely does not understand anything. In fact, the source of useful experience can be found everywhere – you just have to be more careful.

The Second Principle. Take Responsibility

How is personal responsibility manifested?

If we express our willingness to face the problem, we are not looking for the guilty, we are not complaining, and we are not making excuses. We show responsibility if, instead of the wrong questions: “For what?”, “Why?”, “Who?” – we ask the right questions: “How to solve this?”, “What can I personally do?”, “How can I  help? ” So we shift the focus from the problem to finding its solution.

“Ability to overcome obstacles and invent different ways to achieve goals is also creativity.”

The opposite of this approach is the search for the guilty. Think about whether you have a habit of blaming anyone, just not yourself. You purchased it if:

  • Having overslept and late for work, you accuse the broken alarm clock;
  • blame the teacher for the poor performance of your child;
  • blame the coach when your team loses;
  • blame the manager for not getting a promotion.

“The desire to learn enriches the life of any person. It enhances the ability to adapt to change, achieve goals and become what you want to become. ”

Very often from different people you can hear the phrase: “This is not my job.” Yes, the hotel administrator really does not have to help the client figure out how to put the shoes in order. This is not recorded in his job description. But the guest had a problem, and the administrator is able to solve it. If he does, he will show that others and their problems are not indifferent to him. And this will be a manifestation of his personal responsibility. So instead of repeating: “This is not my job,” try to think, “How can I help?” Show a creative approach to solving a particular problem.

“It is not right to ask when they will begin to teach you. Correct questions: “How to invest in yourself?”, “How to acquire new knowledge in order to take on new tasks?” ”

However, taking responsibility, you should not go beyond common sense. If you start doing work for others, helping out those who can’t cope with their duties, taking the blame for everything that went wrong, or trying to find a solution to all problems alone, then most likely you are a little carried away.

The Third Principle. Be Creative

The word “creativity” is often used by people related to art. But the search for means to achieve the goal no less can require a creative, creative approach. Creative thinking makes us look for new solutions even where everyone else has stopped looking. And this is his great advantage.

“Do not forget: we strive to teach others what we need to learn for ourselves.”

Creativity will help the QBQ method. Ask yourself not when the bosses will finally provide you with new effective tools, but how it is more efficient to use the tools that you already have. Think not about when you will have truly sensible subordinates, but about how you can improve the skills of existing workers. The right questions will help you find not just an alternative, but the best solutions.

The Fourth Principle. Serve Others

Michael had to go on a business trip just before the vacation, which he was going to spend in the mountains. Therefore, he completely forgot that you need to buy suitable shoes. He remembered this only at the hotel the day before departure to the mountains.

He called the store of L. L. Bean, a company specializing in travel clothing and shoes. The handset was picked up by a salesman named Christie. After walking through the catalog, they settled on three different versions of boots.

But Michael could not decide which model would suit him best. Then Christie, significantly exceeding her authority, invited him to send all three pairs by express courier.

She promised that no money would be debited from his credit card until he made the final choice and sent the remaining two pairs back.

“Is trust in your company strong? When I ask this question to the audience, most of the participants make a moan, which means: “Not really!”

Michael was shocked at this level of service. The impression that the company made on him thanks to Christie’s initiative turned out to be so strong that he told all his friends about it.

Such a story is much more convincing than any advertisement. This example shows that service, that is, true customer care, strengthens relationships with him and his trust in the brand. Another important result is that the employee himself, who assisted the client, experiences deep satisfaction.

“Remember: in the eyes of customers, the company is as good as the employee who they are currently interacting with.”

The buyer judges the company mainly by the impression made by the seller or its other representative. That is, the service is actually not done by the company, but by the people who work in it. The company itself only helps them with this. But this moment is often forgotten. As a result, the story of Michael and L. L. Bean is a rare exception, not a rule. The QBQ method will help to change the situation. Ask yourself how you can serve the client right now so that he is satisfied. Do not ask yourself why customers are so bad.

“Companies spend millions of dollars on“ tools, ”under the guise of which standard motivational trainings, general phrases, and trendy things are offered.”

If employees perform the task of serving customers, then the manager should always come to the aid of the employees themselves. Leaders of this type, following the principle of serving others, believe in the ability of their subordinates to succeed and support them in everything.

The Fifth Principle. Build Trust

At the heart of any serious relationship at work and at home is trust. Trusted people become more efficient, creative, open to cooperation. To establish trusting relationships with someone, ask yourself what you can do to understand the person’s point of view.

“In fact, we are trying to rid ourselves of this torture – to tell the truth.”

In a corporate environment, establishing a trust or measuring the level of trust is more difficult than, for example, in a family one. The lack of trust in the organization can be judged by two characteristic features: silence and cynicism. Silence means that employees are not ready to communicate freely, openly make new proposals or express their concerns.

Cynicism is destructive: with a cynical attitude, not only this or that situation or decision is called into question, but also the reputation of specific people, their sincerity, purity of intentions. In this case, instead of asking: “Why do subordinates not want to be honest?”, It’s better to ask a question: “How to strengthen their trust in the management?” Or “What can I do to help the company cope with the crisis of confidence?”.

“The company’s balance sheet may not contain the line“ enmity with colleagues ”or“ blaming other departments, ”but they entail real costs for teamwork, morale, and productivity.”

Here are some ways to build trust:

  1. Be honest. Sometimes we embellish the situation out of politeness or because we want to make a good impression on the interlocutor or to avoid conflict. But in order to create a truly trusting relationship, you must be extremely sincere and speak only the truth, even if someone doesn’t like it.
  2. Talk face to face. If you do not agree with someone, directly tell him about it, but only in a personal conversation. Talking behind your back can aggravate the conflict.
  3. Become a mentor. Instead of managing subordinates, try to become a mentor for them. By working on the development of your team members and helping them succeed, you build trust in the team. Thanks to this, it becomes easier for everyone to achieve their goals.
  4. Share authority. Let employees make their own decisions and bring them to life. By transferring part of the power into the hands of your subordinates, you will demonstrate that you believe in their abilities and common sense.
  5. Support other people’s dreams. Do not interfere with others – family members, friends, employees – to strive for the stars. Support those who are trying to make their dreams come true. This will show your concern and express your respect for them.
  6. Take care of others. At work and at home, show that you value other people’s interests above your own. If you are sincere in caring for others, they will respond with confidence.

“Any strength taken to the extreme turns into a weakness.”

Building trustFlipping the Switch takes time. But if the trust is destroyed – sometimes it’s enough to just cheat or disappoint once, then it can take much more time to restore it than to create it.

Leave the light on

Living on the basis of the above QBQ principles, you help yourself develop and strengthen relationships that are really important to you.

Ask yourself:

“What specific actions should I take today to reveal all the possibilities for the realization of personal responsibility in my life?”


  • By learning to ask questions using the QBQ method (that is, “Question by Question”), you can develop personal responsibility.
  • The QBQ method allows you to focus on what can be improved in each specific situation at any given time.
  • Personal responsibility allows you to maintain control over the situation in any circumstances and it is easier to find a solution to existing problems.
  • To be always ready to receive new knowledge and skills means to give yourself the opportunity to change, develop, and achieve your goals.
  • Personal responsibility begins when you are ready to face the problem, stop looking for the guilty, make excuses and complain.
  • The creative approach allows not only to find a solution to a problem by itself but also to find the best solution.
  • It is often forgotten that it is not companies that work with clients, but their employees, that is, specific people.
  • The desire of employees to serve others brings satisfaction not only to customers but also to the employees themselves.
  • There are two signs of a crisis of confidence in an organization. This is the silence and cynicism of its workers.
  • Without trust, it is impossible to build productive relationships at work or at home.

Why You Should Read “Flipping the Switch”

  • To gain a solid foundation for building life and career 
  • To learn how to solve daily problems effectively
  • To deal with obstacles effortlessly

Get Flipping the Switch:

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