At the end of my career before serving as mission president, I had become fairly well known and I knew community leaders and people in other public and private organizations throughout the Western United States where Sunrise Engineering did business. Most observers would consider my wife and me as successful. I was the founder, President and CEO of Sunrise; my wife was a professional educator.
We would occasionally hear people explain how they felt we were so fortunate. I always felt such statements were actually sort of disrespectful. Starting and operating a small business was difficult. The 70 hour weeks, seldom being home with the family at night, risking all our assets for the chance of a better tomorrow, worries, stress and financial setbacks that came along with earning success was a far different reality than earning success because I was fortunate.
The following outlines one of the main secrets of my success. It is, in large part, the foundation for any successes that I might have or had in my life. It is simple. It was and is my attitude, or my “come from,” as I face every day events in my life.
Your Results. Each of you live in a personal world; that only you experience. For each of you, that world is the summation of what is happening to you in your life at the moment. I call this your “results.” Your results are the honest, actual results not just good intentions, hopes or dreams.
I am 100% Responsible. How I view my results in my personal world can be condensed into the following statement. It sounds brutal, but it is the core attitude about my personal accountability regarding the results I experience in my life:
“I am:–100% accountable for–100% of the results in my life – 100% of the time.”
You are Responsible. If you adopt this statement for yourself, it will give you the key to take control of your life and will greatly improve your successes, satisfaction and sense of fulfillment in your life experiences. In this statement you acknowledge that you are responsible for all the results you are experiencing in your life. Your free agency is in play here. Your results stem from choices that you have made or are making.
Your results should not be an abstract concept. For example your results might be feeling fulfillment or discouragement, success or unproductiveness, you love it here or you sometimes what to go home, confidence or lack of faith, etc.
A Victim. When you want different results, you either accept full responsibility for your results or you blame outside influences or actions of others for creating the results in your life. When you blame, you cease to view yourself to be responsible and you become a victim to outside circumstances. You surrender to the concept that outside influences are causing your results. If you think this, it follows that you can do nothing to change your results until the outside influences change. You give up your power. The world is full of victims.
An example of this is the story of Nephi when he broke his bow of fine steel. What did his brothers do? Did they say, “Oops, I chose not to bring a back-up bow,” or “I must now construct a better bow or starve to death.” No, they blamed Nephi and became angry victims. (1 Nephi 16:18) If you think about it, that is really unintelligent problem solving.
As a missionary you make yourself a victim (the ultimate self limiting belief) when you make “because” statements such as:
“I am discouraged because the language is difficult.”
“I am unproductive because my inappropriate behavior is caused by my personality.”
“I want to go home because I don’t enjoy the work”
“I lack faith because I am scared to contact and teach people.”
Empowerment. But, if you refuse to be a victim, you always ask yourself:
“What am I doing to create these results in my life?”
Think about it, instead of saying, “I am late because the traffic was bad.” You will say, “I am late because I chose not to leave early enough for the possibility of bad traffic.” Instead of, “You really make me mad because you …,” you would say, “You do not have the power to make me angry, and I choose not to be angry.”
Liberation. By asking this question you are saying: “I am responsible for my results in my life and outside influences are not responsible for my results. You will feel exhilaration and liberation because this attitude gives you power to choose different results in your life. You no longer need to wait for outside influences to change so the results in your life can change. You simply need to make new choices.
Agency. The agency of man is the doctrine that supports this concept. Our agency comes from the very foundation of the purpose for this life. Satan sought to destroy the agency of man. Agency was protected by our Father in Heaven to the point a war in heaven was fought over our agency and 1/3 of His children rebelled and were lost. (Moses 4:3) Nephi taught that men are free forever to act for themselves and not to be acted upon and all things are given to man that are expedient unto man. (2 Nephi 2:26-27) We teach:
“Agency, or the ability to choose, is one of God’s greatest gifts to His children.”
“Accept full responsibility for your efforts. Never blame others for difficult circumstances or lack of progress…Accountability does not come only at the end of your mission. It is a principle that influences how you begin, how you think and feel about the responsibility the Lord has given you, how you approach your work, and how well you endure.” (PMG p. 48, 151)
Because of the agency of man, I believe we have a choice in everything. If you are in a crashing airliner you are not a victim, you knew the risks and accepted the consequences when you chose to get on board. If you lose a child at birth, knowing the value God places on agency, I am guessing you chose in the pre-existence to have that experience to help you learn and grow or to be that child’s parents. I hope that missionaries from our Mission never go home and pray, “God, who should I marry?” It does not work that way. You are here to act and not be acted upon. You are responsible for your results. God has given you the responsibility to make your own choices.
While you eliminate the tendency to be a victim in your life and take responsibility for your results, look to God in all you do and be grateful to Him. Stay close to him with faith and He will guide you to make right choices. With God as your partner and your accepting personal responsibility for your results, there is nothing you cannot achieve.