Friday, May 22, 2009

The 90/10 principle

Recently i came across one forward which was too good worth sharing. It is about the 90/10 principle. The 90/10 principle states that 10% of life is made up of what happens to you. 90% of life is decided by how you react. And it is our reaction which determines our subsequent attitudes and states in our life.

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-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, "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 difference? 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% will be determined by your reaction.

Most of us tend to react to situations like spontaneously reacting to any external stimuli without thinking the consequence of our action. In such cases,what might save the day for us is to respond to situations. Actually both the words "Respond" and "React" sound the same but in reality they are in complete contrast. When we react to situations we are acting without really thinking. We are not being authentic. While when we respond,we are actually sizing things up and acting in such a way so that we are authentic in our actions and as well consciously aware of it. Coming back to our post, no one knows how and when things will happen. But when it happens,we can definitely choose how to respond to it which will later take its own course as desired by us.

P.S: I have stated some in my own words and the example has been taken from the forward. The 90/10 principle has been advocated by Motivational speaker and Time management guru,Stephen Covey.


Insignia said...

Classic! I remember reading this forward. You have explained 'react' and 'respond' quite well.

That's why they say 'You are responsible for your actions'.

Its that impulse which pushes us to react - let the situation be pleasant, awkward, sad, frustrating. Anything. The outcome results by how you have handled it entirely.

Most of us are slaves to our impulse. We re-act than to act.

BK Chowla said...

I remmember having read and forwarded this mail earlier.It is infact very touching and actually leaves you with a thought.

Priya Joyce said...

i guess u r rite!

Shalom said...

Many years ago, we had a sort of seminar for the youth in our church & this "reaction vs. response" was one of the lessons....I've never forgotten it. It makes all the difference in the quality of life.