I was on my way to a meeting with a VIP client and I was running a few minutes late. “Never mind,” I said to myself. “I can catch up the time on the way.”
I jumped into my car and pulled out of the drive. “That’s odd,” I thought to myself. “The car feels lopsided and is pulling to the left. What on earth is going on?”
I leaped out of the car and I immediately noticed the problem. I had a flat tyre. “Aaargh!” I started to yell…
And then I reminded myself about the 90/10 Principle.
Have you heard of the 90/10 Principle? It was popularised by Stephen Covey in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (first published in 1990 by Simon and Schuster and well worth a read!)
The Principle could potentially change your life or at least the way you respond to situations. It goes something like this…
10% of whether you have a good or a bad life is determined by events – things that happen to you.
90% of whether you have a good or a bad life is based on YOUR response to the 10% above.
It’s clear to me that few people know about, and apply the Principle consistently – the consequence is that millions of people around the world are suffering from unnecessary stress, anger, anxiety frustration and pain in their lives.
Too many people believe that they will never be a success in life. Miserable days are the norm.
It’s tough – every time you watch the television news or open up social media you are exposed to awful events that seem to be constantly happening around the world. Wars, terrorism, famine, disease and natural disasters are the order of the day.
Stress levels are high and there’s a lack of joy and broken relationships are common. People worry incessantly, anger ruins friendships, life seems dreary and is rarely enjoyed to the fullest. Life is a bore and often seems cruel.
Does this describe you? If so, do not be discouraged. You can be different! Understand and apply the 90/10 Principle and it will change your life. Forever.
Remember I told you that 10% of life is made up of what happens to you and 90% of life is decided by how you respond. Let’s unpack this a little more. Typically, you have little or no control over 10% of what happens to you. You cannot stop the washing machine from breaking down or getting tyre puncture when you really need to be at an appointment on time.
The other 90% is different because you largely determine the other 90%! And you do this by your RESPONSES. For example, you cannot control a red traffic light, but you can control your response. Stop being fooled by other people; you can control how you respond!
Let’s use an example of a story from Stephen Covey’s book. Picture the scene – it’s Monday morning and you’re eating breakfast with your family. You’re thinking about the importance of your first meeting of the day with a client. Your daughter skips by and accidentally knocks over a cup of coffee onto your clean white shirt. You have no control over her spilling coffee on you. It’s an EVENT. What happens next will be determined by how you RESPOND.
This is what happens next:
- You swear loudly.
- You jump up and shout at your daughter for knocking over the coffee cup.
- She instantly dissolves into tears and rushes from the kitchen crying.
- You then turn to your spouse and crticise them for placing the coffee cup too close to the edge of the table.
- A row between you quickly ensues.
- Still shouting at anyone who will listen you stomp upstairs and change your shirt.
- A few minutes later you reappear.
- Your daughter is still crying.
- She has not finished breakfast and is nowhere near ready for school.
- As a result, she misses the school bus.
- Your spouse coldly announces that they must leave immediately for work.
- You raise your eyes skyward and rush to the car muttering under your breath.
- You now have to drive your daughter to school.
- Because you’re late, you drive 36 mph in a 30 mph speed zone.
- You get pulled over by a Policeman holding a speed gun.
- After a 15-minute delay and a £60 speeding fine, you arrive at school.
- Your daughter bursts out of the car and runs into the school building without saying goodbye.
- You get to your office 20-minutes late for your first appointment of the day and realise that you forgot your briefcase containing key papers that need to be signed by your client.
- Your CEO walks by and pointedly looks at the office clock and then directly at you. She shakes her head.
- Oh dear. Your day has started terribly.
- And as it continues, it seems to get worse and worse.
- You look forward to going home.
- When you arrive home, you find a small wedge in your relationship with your spouse and daughter.
So, why did you start to have a bad day?
A) Did the coffee cause it?
B) Did your daughter cause it?
C) Did the Policeman cause it?
D) Did you cause it?
The answer is D. You had no control over what happened with the coffee. How you responded in those 5-seconds after the spillage is what caused your miserable day.
Here is what could have and should have happened. An alternative scenario, if you like.
- Coffee splashes over you.
- Your daughter is about to cry.
- You gently say, “It’s OK darling, you just need to be more careful next time.”
- Grabbing a towel you rush upstairs to change.
- After putting on a new shirt and picking up your briefcase you come back down just in time to see your child getting on the school bus.
- She turns to smile and wave at you.
- You and your spouse kiss before you both go to work.
- You arrive 5-minutes early at work.
- You cheerfully greet your team and usher your important client into the boardroom for your meeting.
- Just before you start your CEO saunters by and with a grin comments on how good of a day you are having.
- The meeting goes really well as does the rest of your day.
- When you get home your daughter excitedly tells you about her school trip and your spouse greets you warmly with an affectionate kiss and a hug.
Notice the difference?
Two different scenarios. Both started the same but ending very differently. Why? Because of how you RESPONDED!
You really do not have any control over 10% of what happens. The other 90% is largely determined by your response.
Your RESPONSE (or your ATTITUDE) is your superpower – use it wisely!
BTW: You might be wondering what happened with my flat tyre! I discovered a nail in the tread and ended up having to buy a new tyre to stay safe. (I don’t fancy belting down the motorway at 70 MPH on a repaired tyre!) I called and explained the situation to my client. He was very understanding and we did what we had to do by phone. It turned out to suit him too as he a family matter that he had to get away to attend. All’s well that ends well!
Your opportunity to chat…
I’m passionate about inspiring people to tap into their unique talents and strengths – to be the best they can be – to fulfill the potential they always knew they had. It’s not about ‘fixing’ you. Rather, it’s about helping you access the best part of yourself so you’re able to make the changes, release the dragons and powerfully step into your brilliance.
If you are interested in performance coaching, try my free 20-minute introductory session. Just contact me and I’ll arrange a time and date for us to chat by phone or face-to-face.
Get in touch TODAY by email or call my office on +44 (0)20 8798 3433.
Mark Russell Inspired Performance Coaching – Dedicated to Your Success.