Discover the 90/10 Principle by Stephen Covey

January 03, 2008

Author: Stephen Covey

Title: Discover the 90/10 Principle.

It will change your life (at least the
way you react to situation).

What is this principle? 10% of life is
made up of what happens to you. 90% of
life is decided by how you react.

What does this mean? We really have no
control over 10% of what happens to us.

We cannot stop the car from breaking
down. The plane will be late arriving,
which throws our whole schedule off. A
driver may cut us off in the traffic.

We have no control over this 10%. The
other 90% is different. You determine
the other 90%.

How? ….. by your reaction.

You cannot control a red light. But
you can control your reaction. Don’t
let people fool you; You can control
how you react.

Let’s use an example.

You are eating breakfast with your
family. Your daughter knocks over a
cup of coffee onto your business
shirt. You have no control over what
just happened.

What happens next will be determined
by how you react.

You curse.

You harshly scold your daughter for
knocking the cup over. She breaks down
in tears. After scolding her, you turn
to your spouse and criticize her for
placing the cup too close to the edge
of the table. A short verbal battle
follows. You storm upstairs and change
your shirt. Back downstairs, you find
your daughter has been too busy crying
to finish breakfast and get ready for
school. She misses the bus.

Your spouse must leave immediately for
work. You rush to the car and drive
your daughter to school. Because you
are late, you drive 40 miles an hour
in a 30 mph speed limit.

After a 15-minutes delay and throwing
$60 traffic fine away, you arrive at
school. Your daughter runs into the
building without saying goodbye. After
arriving at the office 20 minutes
late, you find you forgot your
briefcase. You day has started
terrible. As it continues, it seems to
get worse and worse. You look forward
to coming home.

When you arrive home, you find small
wedge in your relationship with your
spouse and daughter.

Why?….. Because of how you reacted in
the morning.

Why did you have a bad day?

Did the coffee cause it?
Did your daughter cause it?
Did the policeman cause it?
Did you cause it?

The answer is “D”.

You had no control over what happened
with the coffee. How you reacted in
those 5 seconds is what caused your
bad day.

Here is what could have happened.

Coffee splashes over you. Your
daughter is about to cry. You gently

“Its ok honey, you just need to be
more careful next time.” Grabbing a
towel you rush upstairs. After
grabbing a new shirt and your
briefcase, you come back down in time
to look through the window and see
your child getting on the bus. She
turns and waves. You arrive 5 minutes
early and cheerfully greet the staff.
Your boss comments on how good the day
you are having.

Notice the different?

Two different scenarios. Both started
the same. Both ended different.


Because of how you REACTED.

You really do not have any control
over 10% of what happens. The other
90% was determined by your reaction.

Here are some ways to apply the 90/10
principle. If someone says something
negative about you, don’t be a sponge.
Let the attack roll off like water on
glass. You don’t have to let the
negative comment affect you.

React properly and it will not ruin
your day. A wrong reaction could
result in losing a friend, being
fired, getting stressed out etc.

How to react if someone cuts you off
in traffic? Do you lose your temper?
Pound on the steering wheel? A friend
of mine had the steering wheel fall
off. Do you curse? Does your blood
pressure skyrocket? Do you try and
bump them?

Remember the 90/10 principle, and do
not worry about it.

You are told you lost your job.

Why lose sleep and get irritated? It
will work out. Use your worrying
energy and time into finding another

The plane is late, it is going to
mangle your schedule for the day. Why
take outpour frustration on the flight
attendant? She has no control over
what is going on.

Use your time to study, get to know
the other passenger. Why get stressed
out? It will just make things worse.

Now you know the 90/10 principle.
Apply it and you will be amazed at the
results. You will lose nothing if you
try it. The 90/10 principle is
incredible. Very few know and apply
this principle.

The result?

Millions of people are suffering from
undeserved stress, trials, problems
and heartache. We all must understand
and apply the 90/10 principle.

It CAN change your life.

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