The 90/10 Principle

November 19, 2019
What’s the 90/10 Principle? 10 percent of life is made up of what happens to you; 90 percent of life is decided by how you react. Let me explain. We really have no control over 10 percent of what happens to us. A driver cuts us off in traffic. The car gets a flat tire. The plane is late, throwing your whole schedule off. We have no control over this 10 percent. The other 90 percent is different. You determine the other 90 percent. How? By your reaction!
Let’s use an example. You’re having 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 and harshly scold your daughter for knocking the cup over. She breaks into tears. After scolding her, you turn to your wife and criticize her for placing the cup too close to the edge of the table. A short verbal battle ensues. You storm upstairs and change your shirt. Back downstairs your daughter is too busy crying to finish her breakfast and get ready for school. She misses the school bus. Now, you have to drive your daughter to school. Because you’re running late, you drive 40 mph in a 30 mph zone. After a 15 minute delay and a $120 traffic ticket, your day just continues to get worse and worse. You can’t wait for the day to be over and you look forward to coming home. But when you arrive home, you find everyone is giving you the silent treatment. 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 police officer cause it?
D. Did you cause it?
The answer is “D.” How you reacted in those first 5 seconds is what caused your bad day.
Here is what could have happened – and should have happened. Coffee splashes over you. Your daughter is about to cry. You gently say, “It’s okay, honey, you just need to be more careful next time.” Grabbing a towel, you rush upstairs, throw on a new shirt, and head downstairs in time to see your child getting on the bus. She turns and waves. You arrive at work 5 minutes early and cheerfully greet the staff. Your boss comments on what a good day you’re having.
Notice the difference? Two scenarios. Both started the same. Both ended different. Why? Because of how you reacted. That’s why the Bible says, “Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise, but as wise – making the most of every opportunity.”
Here are other ways to apply the 90/10 Principle:
 Suppose someone says something negative about you. How do you react? Don’t be a sponge. Don’t soak it all in. Let the attack roll off like water on glass. You don’t have to let the negative comment affect you!
 How about if someone cuts you of in traffic? Do you lose your temper? Pound the steering wheel? Who cares if you arrive 10 seconds later at work? Why let a stranger you never met, driving a car you’ll never see again, ruin your morning?
 Suppose you lose your job. Why lose sleep and get irritated? It will work out. Instead of putting your energy into worrying, put your energy into finding another job.
10% of life is made up of what happens to you.
90% of life is decided by how you react.

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