Thursday, December 8, 2005

The 90/10 Principle

Have you read this before?
Author : Stephen Covey (Management Guru)

Discover the 90/10 Principle. It will change your life (at least the way you react to situations). 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 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 what happened. What happens when the 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-minut e 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. Your 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.


Because of how you reacted in the morning. Why did you 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 reacted in those 5 seconds is what caused your bad day.

Here is what could have and should have happened.

Coffee splashes over you. Your daughter is about to cry.
You gently say,"It's 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 difference?

Two different scenarios. Both started the same. Both ended different.
Why? 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 do you 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?

WHO CARES if you arrive ten seconds later at work? Why let the cars ruin your drive?

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 job.

The plane is late; it is going to mangle your schedule for the day. Why take out your 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. There never seem to be a success in life.

Bad days follow bad days.

Terrible things seem to be constantly happening. There is constant stress, lack of joy, and broken relationships. Worry consumes time. Anger breaks friendships and life seems dreary and is not enjoyed to the fullest.

Friends are lost. 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.

It CAN change your life.........!!!!!!!


  1. S. Covey: "Get the 8th habit in the store near you. Remember, you are in control!" :p

  2. How True! Do you like the Arts of War too, try reading them when you are free too.

  3. Oh! This 90/10 principle.
    I thought it was the other Msian boleh one - 90 goes into the pockets and only 10 goes into the actual project! Oops! ;o)

  4. haha fh20... i was briefly misled too.. the first thought that flashed into mind was not any principles by Covey, but rather the 80:20 misallocation of resources among populations between the rich and poor.. i was thinking, 'omigosh it rose up to 90:10?'

  5. Hi folks! Hope you've had a wonderful w/e.

    Low, the 8th habit, eh? I shall look out for the book. Thanks.

    Robin, Sun Tzu's "Art of War"? Haven't read the book but have come across snippets here and there. Amazing how these war strategies can be applied to all facets of work and play. Thanks for the URL - will check it out.

    fh2o - that bad, eh? How was yr trip to KL? 90% pleasure and 10% pain?

    yd, you're right that in some countries that ratio might be a reality or fast becoming one.

  6. KL was GREAT - 90% pleasure n 10% fun - no pain!

    Its always very nice to be somewhere different from our familiar surroundings and routine of life. I absolutely LOVED it when I am in a foreign country.

  7. You didn't mention about the bak kua and the char kway teow. Guess you didn't have the time to explore the place then.

  8. One day Buddha was confronted by a man who poured abuse on him. Buddha asked him: "If a man offered a gift to antoerh but the gift was declined, to whom would the gift belong?"
    "To the one who offered it."
    Buddha continued, "Then, I decline to accpet your abuse and request you to keep it for yourself."

    So this idea of people being in control of how they react to events they cannot control is ancient knowledge. I think it is wonderful that it continues to appear in new forms and stories to teach ever more people this valuable lesson.

    Nice post. Thanks.

  9. Dear Pandabonium, this is a great analogy. Thank you for sharing yr wisdom.