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From Chaos to Calm: Embracing the 90/10 Principle

In our last blog, we shared a laugh over life's little mishaps and how embracing humor can help us navigate those curveballs with grace. Today, we're diving deeper into a powerful concept that can transform how we handle these unexpected moments: Stephen Covey's 90/10 principle. This principle teaches us that while we can't control 10% of what happens to us, we have complete control over the other 90% – our reactions. Let's explore this idea through the lens of a classic scenario: the morning of spilled milk.


The Story of Spilled Milk:

Imagine this: It’s a typical busy morning. You’re rushing to get ready for work, preparing breakfast, and trying to get the kids out the door. Suddenly, your child accidentally knocks over a glass of milk. Milk is everywhere – on the table, the floor, even your freshly ironed clothes. At that moment, you have two choices: react or respond.


Reacting vs. Responding:

  1. Reacting: In the heat of the moment, it’s easy to react. You might yell, scold your child, and let frustration take over. This reaction sets off a chain of negative events. Your child starts crying, breakfast is delayed, and now everyone is stressed and running late. The whole day seems to spiral out of control because of that one spilled glass of milk.

  2. Responding: Now, let’s consider responding instead of reacting. You take a deep breath, remind yourself that accidents happen, and calmly clean up the mess. You reassure your child, “It’s okay, we all make mistakes.” You quickly change your clothes and move on with the morning. Everyone stays calm, and the day continues smoothly.



The 90/10 Principle in Action:

Stephen Covey’s 90/10 principle teaches us that 10% of life is made up of what happens to us, and 90% is how we react to it. The spilled milk incident is a perfect example. The spill (10%) was out of your control, but your response (90%) determined the outcome of your morning. By choosing a calm, measured response, you prevented a small mishap from derailing your entire day.


Quotes and Insights:

Stephen Covey himself said, “I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.” This powerful quote underscores the essence of the 90/10 principle. Our decisions – how we choose to respond to life’s challenges – shape our experiences far more than the challenges themselves.


Applying the Principle:

At The Guided Change, we emphasize the importance of mindset and self-awareness in managing life’s ups and downs. Here are some practical tips to apply the 90/10 principle in your daily life:


  1. Pause and Reflect: Before reacting, take a moment to pause and consider the best response.

  2. Practice Self-Compassion: Be kind to yourself when things go wrong. It’s okay to make mistakes.

  3. Stay Present: Focus on the current moment rather than dwelling on the spill (or other mishap).

  4. Use Humor: A light-hearted approach can defuse tension and make the situation more manageable.


Personal Anecdote:

Let me share another personal story. One morning, as I was rushing out the door with my son, we were already in the parking lot when he realized he had forgotten his computer at home. My initial reaction was to get angry and yell, but I took a deep breath and remembered the 90/10 principle. Instead of reacting, we talked through it and laughed about how we were in such a rush that we just weren't being mindful. We returned home, got the computer, and continued our day without letting the mishap ruin our morning.


Life’s curveballs, like spilled milk, are inevitable. But how we handle them makes all the difference. By embracing Stephen Covey’s 90/10 principle, we can navigate these moments with grace and humor, turning potential disasters into minor hiccups. Remember, at The Guided Change, we’re here to help you cultivate a mindset that empowers you to respond positively to life’s challenges.


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