This post is a bit off topic for me but I hope you’ll bear with me. Recently, I received an email that has had me thinking ever since. The email was about The 90/10 Principle by Steven Covey. Hopefully it will get you thinking too.
What is this principle?
10% of life is made up of what happens to you. 90% of life is determined by how you react.
What does this mean?
We really have no control over 10% of what happens to us. You cannot control a red light but you can control your reaction. Do not let people fool you. You can control how you react.
Following is the author’s example:
You are 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. You harshly scold your daughter for knocking the cup over. She breaks down in tears. After scolding her, you turn to your wife and you criticize her for placing the cup to close to the edge of the table. A short battle follows.
You storm upstairs and change your shirt. Back downstairs, you find your daughter has been too busy crying to finish her breakfast and get ready for school. She misses the bus.
Your wife must leave immediately for work. You rush to the car to drive your daughter to school. Because you are late, you drive 40 in a 30 mph speed limit zone. After a 15 minute delay and throwing a $60 traffic fine away, you arrive at school. Your daughter runs into the building without saying goodbye.
You arrive at the office 20 minutes late. You realize you forgot your briefcase. Your day has started terrible. As it continues, it seems to get worse and worse. You look forward to getting home.
When you arrive home, you find a small wedge in your relationship with your wife and daughter. Why? Because of how you reacted in the morning.
Why did you have a bad day?
1. Did the coffee cause it?
2. Did your daughter cause it?
3. Did the policeman cause it?
4. Did you cause it?
The answer is “4”. You have 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 say “it’s ok honey, you just need to be more careful next time. Grabbing a towel, you go upstairs to change your shirt. You grab your briefcase and go back down in time to look through the window to see your daughter getting on the bus. She turns and waves. You arrive at the office 5 minutes early and cheerfully greet the staff.
Notice the difference? Two different scenarios. Both started the same. Both ended very differently.
Why? Because of how you reacted. You really have no control over 10% of what happens in life. The other 90% was determined by your reaction.
Having had a boss that was very much like this, I can really relate. He would have a bad morning at home and would bring that bad mood to work. It actually got to the point of being funny but everyone knew to stay away from him the rest of the day.
That’s no way to run a business, is it. Trying to apply the 90/10 principle when we react to situations in our businesses may have an incredible affect on the success of our businesses.
What are your thoughts?
Photo credit: Ben Ootjers