One Simple Principle That Will Change Your Life
Stephen Covey died Monday. He was a former professor at BYU, author, motivator and business coach. He was probably best known for his best-selling book "Seven Habits of Highly Successful People." I have applied the "7 Habits" paradigm to church growth and personal discipleship, as have many others. His organizational tools through Franklin-Covey stores have helped many of us stay focused, organized, and on time!
Covey was a great believer in personal responsibility and accountability. He taught something he called the 90/10 principle. What does it mean?
10% of life is made up of what happens to you. You have no control over it. The other 90% of life is decided by how you react. That is the part you control. He once used this example in a seminar that has been widely copied.
You're 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 coffee cup over. She breaks down in tears. After scolding her, you turn to your spouse and criticize them 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 zone.
After a 15-minute delay and throwing $60 (traffic fine) away, you arrive at school. Your daughter runs to the building without saying good-bye. 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 going 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.
Covey liked to ask his audience this multiple choice question.
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?
Of course the answer is D. You caused it! You had control over what happened. In those 5 seconds following the spilt coffee, your response could changed everything! You could have consoled your daughter and say , "It's ok, sweetie, don't worry about it" Calmly change shirts. Your daughter catches the bus in time. You give your wife a six second kiss goodbye. You get to work early. And you have a great day!
Two totally different scenarios. They began the same. But ended different. Why? Because of your response instead of reaction. You had no control over the coffee spilling. But you did have control over your attitude!
What would happen in our homes if we took personal responsibility for our attitude and applied the 90/10 principle? In our churches? In our jobs? In our clubs? In our neighborhoods?
How different would this country be if people quit blaming others? Or behaving like a victim? Or making excuses for poor conduct?
God made us each creatures of choice. We can react or respond. Be positive or negative. Be good or bad. Choose your response and change your life!