BYU SPEECHES – 22 August 2017

I am back from Cancun! I have a lot to say about my weekend away, but not today. Today I have reserved specifically for Lynn Robbins’ Be 100% Responsible. It has been on my mind for some time.

Are you ready? This is truth. This is powerful – this is, in fact, empowering. This is validating everything I’ve written about these past five months, everything I have learned from Brooke, from Jody, from Brene Brown, from Brooke Snow, from Uncle Dave. They are saying the same thing – they are sharing the same message. And the message, now shared by Lynn Robbins, is life-changing. Let’s just jump right into it:

“Many gospel principles come in pairs, meaning one is incomplete without the other. I want to refer to (this pair) today:


When Satan is successful in dividing (this) doctrinal pair, he begins to wreak havoc upon mankind. It is one of his most cunning strategies to keep people from growing in the light.”

Right away I think of my experience these past few months, studying and blogging my ONE YEAR. The model teaches me just that: Responsibility for the results in my life.

Responsibility is to recognize ourselves as being the cause for the effects or results of our choices—good or bad … being 100 percent responsible is accepting yourself as the person in control of your life.” 

This is something we already believe, right? Always. Our thoughts lead to our feelings, leading to our actions and our life results. I am absolute responsible for my life experience.

“Complete and total agency comes with complete and total responsibility.”

To help us understand, Lynn Robbins shares with us an ANTI-RESPONSIBILITY LIST – a list of things that “Satan tempts people to either say or do to avoid being responsible. This list isn’t all-inclusive, but I believe it covers his most common tactics”:

  • Blaming others
  • Rationalizing or justifying
  • Making excuses
  • Minimalizing or trivializing sin
  • Hiding
  • Covering up
  • Fleeing from responsibility
  • Denying or lying
  • Rebelling
  • Complaining and murmuring
  • Finding fault and getting angry
  • Making demands and entitlements
  • Doubting, losing hope, giving up, and quitting
  • Indulging in self-pity and a victim ­mentality
  • Being indecisive or being in a spiritual ­stupor
  • Procrastinating
  • Allowing fear to rule
  • Enabling

I want to look at a few that I have defaulted to, at times in my life.

COMPLAINING. I have been catching myself this past year, complaining. I didn’t realize how much I do it, or even with what intent. But I have, honestly, tried to find safety in the pity of others. That is not where safety lies – it lies within myself. In my thoughts. In my feeling about myself and about the situations/people around me.

BEING INDECISIVE. Lynn Robbins states: “The irony with indecision is that if you don’t make a decision in time, time will make a decision for you.”

SELF-PITY or VICTIM MENTALITY. I do this. I also see others do this and am annoyed by their tendency. My parents’ divorce has really torn apart my life.

ALLOWING FEAR TO RULE. I wouldn’t have labeled this anti-responsibility. But it is, my friends! It is making decisions from a place of fear and dependency on people or things outside of ourselves. It is “reacting” and not “acting”. It is anti-happiness, anti-success, anti-love, anti-freedom.

“When you consider this list with Laman and Lemuel in mind, you will see that they were guilty of nearly everything on the list. It is this list that destroyed Laman and Lemuel. It is an extremely dangerous list…

Excuses never equal results. In the case of Laman and Lemuel, all the excuses in the world could never obtain the brass plates. The reason Nephi obtained the plates and Laman and Lemuel didn’t is because Nephi never went to the anti-responsibility list. He was a champion, and champions do not turn to the list. ‘A determined man finds a way; the other man finds an excuse.’

…When Satan tempts a person to avoid responsibility, that person subtly surrenders their agency because the person is no longer in control or ‘acting.’ Instead they become an object who is being ‘acted upon’, and Satan cleverly begins to control their life

Turning to the anti-responsibility list is an act of self-betrayal. It is to give up on oneself … Going to the anti-responsibility list is counterproductive, even if you are right.”

I want to share three examples, word for word, from Elder Robbins’ address. The first is an example from an experience he had working in business. The second and third are examples are from two different marriages. Today is MONDAY MARRIAGE MATTERS. So appropriate. You will love this!


In 1983 a few partners and I started a new ­company that taught time-management seminars and created and sold day planners. For corporate seminars, we sent our consultants to the client’s headquarters, where they taught at the corporate training facilities. Prior to the seminar, two employees in our distribution center would prepare and ship several boxes of training materials, such as the day planners, binders, and forms…

The two distribution center employees would normally send the seminar shipment ten days before the seminar. At the time that the following incident occurred, we were teaching around 250 seminars each month. With so many seminar shipments, these two employees would often commit errors, such as not shipping sufficient quantities or omitting certain materials or not shipping on time. This became an irritating and often embarrassing frustration for the consultants.

When these problems occurred, the seminar division would file a complaint with me, as the distribution center was one of my responsibilities. When I spoke with these two employees about errors and system improvements, they never wanted to accept responsibility for the errors. They would blame others, saying things like, “It’s not our fault. The seminar division filled out the Seminar Supplies Request form incorrectly, and we sent the shipment exactly according to their specifications. It’s their fault. You can’t blame us!” Or they might say, “We shipped it on time, but the freight company delivered it late. You can’t blame us!”

Then something critical happened. The director of training for a large multinational corporation attended one of our seminars and was so thrilled with it that she invited us to teach a pilot seminar to its top executives. On the day of the seminar, our consultant arrived and opened the boxes of materials and discovered that the seminar guidebooks were missing…Their training director was panic-stricken…

Extremely embarrassed and angry, their training director called our seminar division and said, “You will never teach here again! How could you have made such an embarrassing and inexcusable error with our pilot seminar?”

An upset senior vice president of our seminar division called me and said, “This is the last straw. We are about to lose a million-dollar account because of the distribution center’s errors. We simply can’t tolerate any more errors!”

As one of the owners of the company, I couldn’t tolerate such errors either. At the same time, I did not want to see these two breadwinners fired. After pondering possible solutions, I decided to implement an incentive system to motivate these two men to be more careful. For each seminar shipped correctly, they would receive one additional dollar, or a possibility of an extra $250 each month… I decided to also include two $100 bonuses for no errors. With the first error they not only lost one dollar but also the first $100 bonus. If they made a second error, they lost the second $100 bonus.

I also told these employees, “If there is an error, you will lose your bonus, regardless of where that error originates. You are 100 percent responsible for that shipment.

“Well, that’s not fair,” they responded. “What happens if the seminar division fills out the Seminar Supplies Request form incorrectly and, not knowing, we send the shipment with ‘their’ errors?”

I said, “You will lose your bonus. You are 100 percent responsible for that shipment’s success.”

“That’s not fair! What happens if we send the shipment on time but the freight company delivers it late?”

“You will lose your bonus. You are 100 percent responsible.”

“That’s not fair! What happens if the binder division commits errors in prepackaging the individual seminar kits? You can’t blame us for their mistakes!”

“You will lose your bonus,” I once again responded. “You are 100 percent responsible for that shipment’s success. Do you understand?”

“That isn’t fair!!”

“Well, it may not seem fair, but that’s life. You will lose your bonus.”

What I did was eliminate the anti-­responsibility list as an option for them. They could no longer blame others, make excuses, or justify errors—even when they were right and it was someone else’s fault!

What happened next was fascinating to observe. When they would receive an order from the seminar division, they would call the seminar division to review the form item by item. They took responsibility for correcting any errors committed by the seminar division. They began to read the freight company’s documents to make sure the correct delivery date was entered. They began to mark the cardboard shipping boxes “one of seven,” “two of seven,” etc., with each box’s contents written on the outside of the box. They began sending shipments three or four days ­earlier than they had in their previous routine. A few days before the seminar they would call the client company to verify receipt of the shipment and the contents. If they had somehow omitted any materials, they had three or four extra days now to send missing items by express shipment. Errors finally stopped happening, and the employees began to earn their bonuses month after month. It was a life-changing experience for them to learn firsthand the power, control, and reward of being 100 percent responsible.

When these two employees blamed someone else, they were surrendering control of success to ­others.

“It is self-defeating to blame others, make excuses, or justify mistakes—even when you are right!”


Like any couple, my husband and I have had disagreements during our marriage. But one incident stands out in my mind. I no longer recall the reason for our disagreement, but we ended up not speaking at all, and I remember feeling that it was all my husband’s fault. I felt I had done absolutely nothing for which I needed to apologize.

As the day went by, I waited for my husband to say he was sorry. Surely he could see how wrong he was. It must be obvious how much he had hurt my feelings. I felt I had to stand up for myself; it was the principle that mattered.

As the day was drawing to a close, I started to realize that I was waiting in vain, so I went to the Lord in prayer. I prayed that my husband would realize what he had done and how it was hurting our marriage. I prayed that he would be inspired to apologize so we could end our disagreement.

As I was praying, I felt a strong impression that I should go to my husband and apologize. I was a bit shocked by this impression and immediately pointed out in my prayer that I had done nothing wrong and therefore should not have to say I was sorry. A thought came strongly to my mind: “Do you want to be right, or do you want to be married?”

As I considered this question, I realized that I could hold onto my pride and not give in until he apologized, but how long would that take? Days? I was miserable while we weren’t speaking to each other. I understood that while this incident itself wouldn’t be the end of our marriage, if I were always unyielding, that might cause serious damage over the years. I decided it was more important to have a happy, loving marriage than to keep my pride intact over something that would later seem trivial.

I went to my husband and apologized for upsetting him. He also apologized, and soon we were happy and united again in love.

Since that time there have been occasions when I have needed to ask myself that question again: “Do you want to be right, or do you want to be married?” How grateful I am for the great lesson I learned the first time I faced that question. It has always helped me realign my perspective and put my husband and my marriage before my own pride.


A loving mother once gave the following wise counsel to her daughter, who was unhappy with a struggling marriage. She had the daughter draw a vertical line down the middle of a sheet of paper and write down on the left side all the things her husband did that bothered her. Then, on the right side, she had her write down her response to each offense. The mother then had her cut the paper in half, separating the two lists.

“Now throw the paper with your husband’s faults in the garbage. If you want to be happy and improve your marriage, stop focusing on your husband’s faults and focus instead on your own behavior. Examine the way you are responding to the things that bother you and see if you can respond in a different, more positive way.”

This mother understood the power and wisdom of 100 percent responsibility.

“If others are at fault and need to change before further progress is made, then you are at their mercy and they are in control over the positive outcomes or desired results in your life.” 

Well, my friends, this is what we are trying to do in our lives – this is what we are trying to teach our children, to empower them and prepare them for a life of intentional happiness. We teach it, we live it as best we can, and we look to the only perfect example of being 100% responsible.

“Even in His moments of excruciating pain and anguish, He showed no self-pity, one of the dysfunctional items on the list.” 

President Spencer W Kimball said:

“If the Lord was meek and lowly and humble, then to become humble one must do what He did: 1) boldly denouncing evil, 2) bravely advancing righteous works, 3) courageously meeting every problem, 4) becoming the master of himself and the situations about him, and 5) being near oblivious to personal credit.”

And Lynn Robbins closed with a challenge:

“I invite each one of you to eliminate the anti-responsibility list from your life, even when you are right! It is an anti-happy and an anti-success list even when you are right. It is not a list for the valiant sons and daughters of God who are seeking to become more like Him.”

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