The 90/10 Principle

Yesterday, I went to an Oriented Happy Hour again and had the chance to rub elbows with the ABCs and expat community of Taiwan. It was held at Que Pasa, and the place was just brimming with people!

My gosh, it’s so hot in here!” exclaims my boyfriend, lamenting the lack of AC in the whole room. “And I’m not talking about the women in the place.

I’ve come to realize that though I like to socialize, put me in a room full of people, and I don’t feel like socializing anymore. Maybe I go to non-socializing mode sometimes. But we still stayed, and handed out flyers for an upcoming project. We ran out around 10 minutes into the party, which was good.

I see a lot of pretty women flirting with my boyfriend, and I stop myself from being jealous. “There’s really nothing you can do,” I tell myself. “If he wants to, no amount of jealousy would make him stay.

And it’s true. So instead, I hung out with new and old friends and had a blast!


My parents sent me an email earlier about Stephen Covey’s 90/10 principle. It’s pretty good stuff. Here goes:

What is the 90/10 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%.


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-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 terribly. As it continues, it seems to get worse and worse.

You look forward to coming home, When you arrive home, you find a 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 differently.

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 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 will change your life.


Okay, I admit it. I’m a worrier.

I worry about the most mundane things. I worry about my friends’ well-being. I worry about my organization. I worry about my job and my future. I worry about my relationship.

But one thing I need to remember is that worrying doesn’t solve anything.

Best guy friend Mike disagrees, “I like to wallow in my worries… leave me alone.

Yes, but worrying also poisons the mind.

If you start thinking about it, it will somehow affect the way you act in a given situation. It will affect how you treat other people.

There are things happening lately that worries me.

One is the coming typhoon that’s going to hit Taiwan this weekend. Given that we’re going to Green Island this weekend, that’s not good news. I would be worried that we couldn’t get back to Taipei in time for work on Monday.

But will worrying change the fact a typhoon will come?

No, it will give me unnecessary stress, but it will not change the circumstances.

So I just heed to the advice written in Doris Day’s song, “Que Sera Sera.”

Que sera, sera…
whatever will be, will be…
the future’s not ours to see…
Que sera, sera…
what will be, will be.

Let sleeping dogs lie.

Sometimes it’s so hard given my current circumstance. I don’t know what my future may hold and it drives me nuts when it seems that there’s a knife atop my head.

But will worrying change the situation?

No, I’ve already made up my mind for the moment. I should stick to it. Worrying won’t change the situation.

I’ve come to a realization that no matter what happens, I will be fine.

It will be difficult, but I will be a stronger person because of this.

Have a great weekend!

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