Know the '90/10 Principle' that leads to a better life
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR - William M. Esposo () - April 19, 2009 - 12:00am

In his website, Dr. Stephen Covey is said to be “recognized as one of Time magazine’s 25 most influential Americans.” It further states that: “Stephen R. Covey has dedicated his life to demonstrating how every person can truly control their destiny with profound, yet straightforward guidance. As an internationally respected leadership authority, family expert, teacher, organizational consultant, and author, his advice has given insight to millions.”

Dr. Stephen Covey popularized an online community that promotes positive values and the attainment of greatness. He has also authored several books which aggregately sold over 20 million copies and were published in 38 languages.

One work of Dr. Covey which caught your Chair Wrecker’s attention was a PowerPoint Presentation of his 90/10 Principle.

What is this principle?

In his presentation, Dr. Covey states: “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 take 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 when 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-minute 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. Why? 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. We all must understand and apply the 90/10 principle.” (End of Dr. Covey’s presentation)

Indeed, we Filipinos can improve a lot if we follow Dr. Covey’s 90/10 Principle. The sorry state of our country can be largely attributed to our way of reacting to situations that fate had dealt us. We’ve allowed the 10% that we cannot control to ruin our lives instead of grabbing the opportunity to neutralize the negative and surge ahead.

We hate our leaders and plunderers – often one and the same or the latter closely related to the former – and we allow them to drive us to counterproductive cynicism. When we should have taken the initiative to clean the system, we resort to being apathetic – something that promotes and perpetuates bad leaders and plunderers.

We have a big Information Gap which is fueling the Wealth Gap that is pushing us towards a violent social explosion. But look at the people who suffer the most from the Information Gap and how they prefer to watch entertainment programs on television instead of meaningful documentaries that can enlighten them. Look at how they absorb the gossip and sensual content from tabloids instead of reading publications that can enrich their information level.

Look at how we react when foreigners demean us because of the image we now have in the world. Instead of diligently addressing the real causes of the pathetic Filipino image, we engage in unproductive outrage that can only threaten to raise our blood pressure and line us up for a stroke.

The Filipino national soul has been in rigor mortis for too long. It’s time that we improved our values and changed our attitude. It’s time we started winning.

Chair Wrecker email and website: macesposo@yahoo.com and www.chairwrecker.com

CHAIR WRECKER CONTROL COVEY DAUGHTER DR. COVEY DR. STEPHEN COVEY INFORMATION GAP PRINCIPLE STEPHEN R TIME
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