The Two Dollar Rule Teaches Awareness

All progress begins by telling the truth. And the people we must be perfectly honest with starts with ourselves. That honesty is what enables us to live above the line in the zone of responsibility and accountability.
Responsibility means that we respond with all of our God-given faculties and abilities in any situation rather than playing the victim.

Some people have understood this better than others.

Dr. Edwards Deming is known for his work in helping Japan’s manufacturing industries reach the high level of quality for which they are renowned. He was a brilliant mentor to a great many business leaders.

One of Deming’s students named Marshall Thurber pioneered the use of the “Two Dollar Rule” in his Fortune 500 company.

For a period of 90 days, Thurber would place jars throughout his workplace.

Whenever an employee caught themselves blaming someone or something else instead of taking personal responsibility, they had to put two dollars into one of the jars.

That was the going price for what was known as “dealing below the line.”

If someone failed to recognize what they were doing, one of their coworkers could point it out and call for the two dollar deposit. After 90 days, the plan was to donate whatever money had been collected to a particular charity.

At the end of 90 days, they found that they had collected over a quarter of a million dollars. But they also found that the productivity of their company soared.

This two dollar rule can be successfully used in any setting such as work, home, volunteer efforts, etc. It trains us to recognize those times that we’re tempted to deal below the line in blame, justification, or shame, we can make a correction.

Getting in the habit of dealing above the line in by shouldering responsibility and accountability puts us on the fast track to real personal progress.

Imagine how much more abundant the world could be if more people shed their entitlement mentality and focused on dealing above the line in all areas of their lives.

Which Zone Are We In?

When we are dealing above the line we are being reminded to live and work with responsibility and accountability.

It’s a concept that has application at every stage of our lives whether as children, youth, or as adults.

When he was teaching others about creating real quality, Dr. Deming would draw an imaginary line that we could choose to work above or below. When people choose to deal below the line, they typically do it in one of 3 zones.

The bottom zone is blame. In this realm, people are always blaming circumstances for their setbacks or failures. It’s a victim mentality that ultimately holds people back.

One rung up on the ladder is the zone of justification. We often see people justifying why they can or cannot do something. It amounts to nothing more than making excuses. This too, impedes our progress.

In the next zone, we find shame. This is where people bar themselves from success because they feel inadequate or undeserving. They consider themselves too stupid or too far behind the curve to ever succeed.

Dr. Deming taught that choosing to operate in the zone of blame, justification, or shame, is an absolute waste of time, energy, money, and resources.

In our day, when many Americans live with an entitlement mentality, the idea of living and working responsibly is greatly needed.

Many of us think we deserve the best career, the best house, car, or family just because we exist. We assume that everything in life should come as quickly and as simply as fast food and credit card purchased goodies.

Folks who have been around for a while or who understand how things really work comprehend what lasting success requires.

When we do a solid job of teaching and living the principles of responsibility and accountability, we tend to thrive. When we don’t, we tend to dive.
It’s only when we stay above the line that we truly progress.

Author: Doug Andrew


Doug Andrew