Archive for September 2010

Choices   Leave a comment

90/10 Principle

The 90/10 Principal is a concept developed by the motivational speaker and author Stephen Covey. Simply put, his theory is that 10% of life is what happens to us, and is out of our control, the other 90% is how we decide to react to it. Please consider the following excerpt:

Discover The 90/10 Principle
It will change your life (or at least, the way you react to situations)

10% of life is made up of what happens to you.What does this mean?

                …90% of life is decided by how you react…

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 the traffic.

The other 90% is different. You determine the other 90%.

How?… By your reaction.

Do not let people fool you. YOU can control how you react.

  “Life IS going to happen”, there will be the 10% of things that happen TO us. However, many of the things that we say and might I believe happen “to” us are simply the consequences of our poor choices.

 What is the number one cause of poor choices?

 The one thing that leads to more wrong choices, rather large or small, is reacting out of our emotions, saying and doing thing without considering, “will  actually solve the problem?” or” what the possible consequences?”. We can chose to “React” out of our emotional state, or “Respond” after thinking through our options before acting. Yes, I understand that we are all emotional beings, and our emotions are very important part of who we are, but we must not allow them to dictate and control our behaviors. So how do we insure that this does not happen?

 We learn, grasp and apply the 90/10 principal.

 When we accept responsibility for our lives, choices and behaviors, we begin to realize the power that we have to direct the destiny of our lives. The influence that we have over the things that happen “to” us.

 I take responsibility and ownership of the destiny of my life. I herby CHOOSE to live my life accepting that there are going to be things that are going to happen to me, but these are the exception rather than the norm. The direction and situations in which I find myself are usually the results of my choices and behaviors.

 Let’s look at a quick example:

You are preparing to head out the door for the morning for a day full of appointments and  meetings, but just you go to kiss your little boy “good bye”, he spills his cereal and you get milk and cereal all over your shirt. IN your frustration you turn and raise your voice at him and yell, “Son you have to be more careful”. He runs to his mom and begins to cry. As you turn to go upstairs to change you see that his bus is pulling away from his bus stop. Now not only do you have to get changed and get to work, you have to get your son to school.  As you are leaving the school after dropping him off, you are going 30 MPH in a 20MPH school zone, After the 15 minute delay, you are finally on your to work. When you get there, you are late for your first meeting. Due to be being late, you are not assigned a big new account that could have been a career and life changer.

                       But why did you have such a bad day?

 Because your son spilled his cereal?      

                                                            Because of the police officer that stopped you?

 Or was it because of your reaction and behaviors.

 Of course it is the final answer. It is YOUR fault. It was your CHOICE to yell at your son and get upset that started the chain of events that resulted in your “Bad Day”.

 You see once we have made one bad choice, we are usually faced with more negative consequences and therefore more negative emotions which get easier and easier to react and continue to make poor choices perpetuating a cycle of negativity and pain.

 On the other hand, if I had not been so quick to react, and calmly spoken to my son and quickly ran to change. He made it to his bus; I would have made it to work early with time to spare before the meeting, and as expected and deserved I am assigned the big account.

What was the difference?  My choices and behavior!

 So matter what happens, no matter how big or small, it is still ONLY 10% of your life. The outcome, the other 90% is based on if you CHOOSE to RESPOND or REACT!

 So take back control of your life and stop giving it away by reacting to your circumstances and start responding to them, in doing so you take charge of the direction and condition of your life.



Failure   Leave a comment

I do not know how many times I have either said or heard someone else say, “I’m my own worst enemy.” We are harder on ourselves and “beat ourselves up” over even the smallest of mistakes or miss steps.  On the other hand, when we are successful, we minimize it and pass it off as being the result of luck, or due to the efforts of someone else.

 Unfortunately, failure has a way of finding us at our weakest times, especially, just as we are getting back to our feet after having fallen down due to a relapse. We feel like that we are just getting going good, doing everything that we are “suppose to do”: taking medication, keeping our appointments, going to support groups, talking to peer support, etc.  Then “LIFE HAPPENS”: we get in an argument with our significant other, Money is tight and you can’t pay the rent, you become physically ill, etc.  It can be any of thousand’s of triggers. As I have listed these, pause for just a moment and ponder the “triggers” that have tripped you up in early recovery in the past. Jot this list down, for later consideration.   These triggers may by huge challenges, or simply unknown ones that we are unprepared for, because we are at a place in our life we have never experienced before… getting better! 

 Let me draw a parallel with a real life experience that we all share. Consider an infant when it is learning to walk. It is a process of successes and failures. We stand supported… we stand unsupported… we walk supported… we walk unsupported. However, what happens form stage to stage, many MANY failures and falls. But, what would have happened if we had given up and quit. We would still be crawling! Recovery, especially in the early stages is just like being a baby all over again.  Just like an infant learning to walk, we need support to help us to keep our feet in the beginning. We must have supportive friends and family that are knowledgeable of our illness, and caring enough to intervene and even confront us if need be when we begin demonstrating behaviors that indicate that we might be starting to relapse. At the same time, we have to understand our own weakness at this time and have an open ear and mind to hearing them out and considering their perspective.  We must not become defensive and guarded, because they may be seeing something in us that we can not yet see for ourselves. But gradually, as we grow we still need our support system we just are not as reliant upon them.

Failure is not when we make mistakes and fall down; it is when we choose to give-up, quit and stop trying. Refusing to stand and walk again. I came across the following quote regarding failure:

 If you have made mistakes, even serious ones, there is always another chance for you. What we call failure is not the falling down but the staying down.  Mary Pickford (1893 – 1979)

 Ms Pickford was a Canadian born actress and “America’s First Sweetheart”. She appeared in an astounding 236 films. In addition, she was also a writer and producer. Also among her accomplishments is assisting in the establishment of “Universal Artist Pictures” and she was a founding of the “Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences”. She won a Lifetime Achievement Award from the “Academy” in 1976.

 Falling down and relapse to one degree or another is inevitable! The true challenge is when I do fall what I am I going to do with it? Quitting and giving up has been our usual response in the past, it is what comes easy; it is “all we have known.” We have long told ourselves. “I am a failure; that’s what I do”. “I will never succeed at anything.” As long as we continue to in this mentality, we will perpetuate the cycle of failure. Just as another person we all know said, and I am sure that he had more than his share of failures along the way. Where would we be without his successes?

 Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.  Thomas A. Edison (1847 – 1931)

 More people give up when they are on the brink of a break-through. Don’t quit just when you can’t go on, give it one more push and see that you will realize strengths and capabilities that you may have never tapped into in the past. However, once they have been tapped, then the resources are there for you as you move on from here.

 You are NOT the sum of your failures! Your failures and mistakes do NOT define who you are!  So I urge you:  

                        STAND UP

                                                DUST YOURSELF OFF



Perspective   1 comment

As the father of a 5 year old, it is funny what you will think of when you set out to consider one concept or another. I set out and began preparing and thinking about perspective, a line from one of my son’s favorite movies came to mind. It is from “Ratatouille” The famous food critic is speaking to the waiter whom has just asked what he would like he replies,

 Yes, I think I do.  After reading a lot of overheated  puffery about your new cook, you know what I’m  craving? A little perspective. That’s it. I’d like some fresh, clear, well seasoned perspective.


Can we all agree that fresh clear perspective is not an simply something that helps us along our journey, but it is a necessity. However, unfortunately for most of us, our perspective has been clouded, scratched, soiled and distorted.

 The simple concept of perspective has literally innumerable facets that could be explored. I will only look at a couple. 

First, another word for Perspective is “point of view”. Let me say it this way, perspective is the lenses through which we see the world. That being said, no two people will ever see the world exactly the same way.  We may share some similarities regarding certain situations and issue, but we will never agree on absolutely EVERYTHING. Why is that? Where/How do we develop our perspective? I dare say, we begin developing our perspective from the moment we enter the world and take that very first breath and open our eyes to see the world around us. Our perspective very similarly to our values is developed based on our life experiences.  Some of us, may have been lucky/blessed enough to have had mostly “positive” experiences, but if you are reading this, you very likely were not one of those. Whether our experiences were positive or negative, they still had an effect on our perspective.  Let me try to explain with a few examples: 

  •  A young man is brought up in a home with an alcoholic father whom is abusive towards him and his mother. His mother is unprotective and provides no boundaries or guidance as he grows older. He will develop a perspective that the world is out to get you and if you want something, you do what ever it takes to get it. He is angry, bitter and very defensive in his interactions with others. He has no trust of others and will sabotage a relationship if it is getting uncomfortably close.


  • A young lady is born into a wealthy family and never has lacked for any need or want. She always has the best and prettiest clothes, all the latest gadgets, and of course the coolest car on the market as her Sweet Sixteen present. Because she gets bored, she gets in to trouble for partying with friends and her parents bail her out and “make the charges go away”. She will develop a perspective of entitlement. She will see everyone else in the world as somehow “beneath” her. You can see it in the way she walks, and talks. She will have a “clique” of friends that see the world the same way. She will be rude, demanding and often obnoxious if her exact desires are met for what ever reason.


  • And finally, a young lady whose father leaves her mother before she evens has the opportunity to know him as her father. In order to make ends meet while she is growing up, her mother works 2 jobs, equally 60-70 hours per week, and the girl is often left at home alone and expected to care for herself. She feels rejected, abandoned and unloved. She seeks affection and attention that she longs for in the arms of an older boy at school. Despite her repeated cries, “STOP”, “NO”, he takes advantage of her. What about her perspective? She will learn to see that world as cold, uncaring, she will see herself as rejected, unlovable and shameful.

 I know each of these examples deals with some extremes, but I have tried to be real to where many of us find or have found ourselves. Our experiences shape our perspectives, our perceptions of ourselves and our world and in doing so they influence how we react to it.  

 However, here is the GOOD NEWS… because perspective is a matter of patterns of thinking of behaving that have previously been learned, we have the ability to learn new, and more effective means of seeing ourselves and our situations. It is not going to be an easy process, but we can, if we will CHOOSE to do so, change our perspective and respond to it in a positive and recovery enhancing manner.

 Yes, you read that correctly, you have a CHOICE on how you perceive yourself and your situation. Most of us have grown to simply assume that “nothing” is going to work out. We tell ourselves, since it’s not going to work anyway, I am not going to even try. IN doing son we guarantee failure and prove our own point reinforcing our pessimistic expectations.  However, despite how difficult a situation might seem, if I approach it with optimism, believing that despite my failures and disappointments in the past, maybe this time I will be able to do it! When I cling to that glimmer of hope and put forth greater effort and ultimately I am more likely to succeed.  On the other hand, I may not achieve my goal, but does that mean that I have “failed?” By all means, “No!” An individual only truly fails when he/she fails to try. For in every instance that we try, but are unsuccessful, we learn new skills and develop more confidence in our own abilities. We realize the sweetness and joy that is with in even the slightest taste of success, and it is just enough to cause us to crave it even more!

 So wherever you are as you read this, consider your perspective and choices and behavior. Do you see your world as a place hurt, rejection and disappointment, or as full of opportunities for growth and improvement? I implore you choose HOPE, choose SUCCESS, choose LIFE!!

 Please see the Note from the Road regarding perspective, for a story that illustrates this point well.

 Until next time…. Happy Travels!

Notes from Along the Road- Perspective   1 comment

John is the kind of guy you love to hate.   He is always in a good mood and always has something positive to say.  When someone would ask him how he was doing, he would reply, ‘If I were any better, I would be twins!’

He was a natural motivator.

If an employee was having a bad day, John was there telling the employee how to look on the positive side of the situation.

Seeing this style really made me curious, so one day I went up and asked him, ‘I don’t get it!’

‘You can’t be a positive person all of the time.
How do you do it?’

He replied, ‘Each morning I wake up and say to myself, you have two choices today.  You can choose to be in a good mood or…you can choose to be in a bad mood

I choose to be in a good mood.’

Each time something bad happens, I can choose to be a victim or…I can choose to learn from it.  I choose to learn from it.

Every time someone comes to me complaining, I can choose to accept their complaining or…I can point out the positive side of life.  I choose the positive side of life.

‘Yeah, right, it’s not that easy,’ I protested.

‘Yes, it is,’ he said.  ‘Life is all about choices.  When you cut away all the junk, every situation is a choice.  You choose how you react to situations.  You choose how people affect your mood.

You choose to be in a good mood or bad mood.  The bottom line:  It’s your choice how you live your life.’

I reflected on what he said.  Soon hereafter, I left the Tower Industry to start my own business.  We lost touch, but I often thought about him when I made a choice about life instead of reacting to it.

Several years later, I heard that he was involved in a serious accident, falling some 60 feet from a communications tower.

After 18 hours of surgery and weeks of intensive care, he was released from the hospital with rods placed in his back.

I saw him about six months after the accident.

When I asked him how he was, he replied, ‘If I were any better, I’d be twins…Wanna see my scars?’

I declined to see his wounds, but I did ask him what had gone through his mind as the accident took place.

‘The first thing that went through my mind was the well-being of my soon-to-be born daughter,’ he replied.  ‘Then, as I lay on the ground, I remembered that I had two choices:  I could choose to live or…I could choose to die.  I chose to live.’

‘Weren’t you scared?  Did you lose consciousness?’  I asked.

He continued, ‘..the paramedics were great.

They kept telling me I was going to be fine.  But when they wheeled me into the ER and I saw the expressions on the faces of the doctors and nurses, I got really scared.  In their eyes, I read ‘he’s a dead man’.  I knew I needed to take action.’

‘What did you do?’ I asked.

‘Well, there was a big burly nurse shouting questions at me,’ said John.  ‘She asked if I was allergic to anything ‘Yes, I replied.’  The doctors and nurses stopped working as they waited for my reply.  I took a deep breath and yelled, ‘Gravity”

Over their laughter, I told them, ‘I am choosing to live.  Operate on me as if I am alive, not dead.’

He lived, thanks to the skill of his doctors, but also because of his amazing attitude….I learned from him that every day we have the choice to live fully.

Attitude, after all, is everything.

It may be a parable or a real story

Notes from Along the Road: 9/6/10   Leave a comment

I recenly received this from a Recovery group that I belong to on Facebook, and thought that I would share it with you. 

Posted September 6, 2010 by Hope in Recovery in Notes from Along the Road

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