Have behavioral flexibility for mastery

David Nair
4 min readApr 3, 2024

(Father Daughter Wife Story

90 / 10 Rule of Life

‘It is amazing what behavior, attitude, and approach towards what you do has such a significant impact on how the outcome turns out.”

To illustrate this let me share with you this father (John), daughter (Sally), and wife (Suzie) story. It also encompasses what is commonly referred to as the 90 / 10 rule of Life. Picture how a perfectly fantastic day was messed up.

The 90 /10 Rule

Put bluntly, the 90 /10 Rule is where: In 10% of life, things happen to us we have no control over these events. While 90% of our life depends on how we react to the things that happen to us. For these, we have total control over our choice of reaction to the things that happen to us.

Check this case on hand — Imagine at breakfast time in a normal suburban home, John and Suzie with their daughter Sally are sitting at the dining table. Sally turns around quickly to reach out for the Ipad, sitting on the bench. As she does that, she knocks her coffee all over her father John’s white shirt.

Scenario 1)

John shouts and yells curses and says “What a clumsy thing to do Sally. Why did you have to reach out for the Ipad and not get up and go to the bench and pick it up. How could you be so clumsy! Now I have to go up and change into another shirt.” John then shouts at his wife, saying it’s your fault, “Why did you leave the coffee so close to the edge of the table!”. He storms upstairs to change his shirt leaving behind a daughter in tears and a wife that is fuming.

John is leaving home 5 minutes later, and the traffic has picked up. Sally is deeply hurt, grumpy, in the back of the car and totally ignoring him. John drops Sally at school, she is late as assembly had stated and she did not get a chance to talk with her friends prior to assembly. John eventually gets to the office fuming, hot-tempered, and in a state of flux. His boss greets him and tells him “Let’s review that important document we need to deliver today”. Suddenly John’s face went pale and realized in all that rush, he had left the notes on the table in the hallway, at home. He left it out at their table to do a final review during breakfast, but with the chaos at home, that plan went for a toss out the window. Hence John went rushed out without going through the paper or even picking it up. His boss fumed out of his office, yelling at John to go home and pick it up, as it is an important opportunity and a vital client. John returns home to pick up the document. The day proceed with one such mishap after another… John was happy to get home and hit the sack.

That night the house is a tense angry situation with nobody talking to each other…

Why did John, Suzy, and Sally have a bad day?

1) because of the spilled coffee?

2) because of Sally spilling the coffee.

3) because of the traffic?

4) because of his boss and the important meeting?

5) because of John’s reaction to the spilled coffee?

Scenario 2)

In this case, although Sally spills the coffee and looks shocked and concerned. John looks at his shirt, pauses, and looks at his daughter and says, “Oh no I will have to change this shirt. Not to worry darling, I have another one upstairs. Sally in future you need to be a little more careful. It’s only a shirt. Let me get upstairs and change my shirt and be down in a moment.” John hugs Sally pats her on the head and goes and changes his shirt. John comes downstairs, by which time Suzie has Sally in her car taking Sally to school. This gives John a few minutes to glance through the document as planned. He refines the document, makes a couple of more additional notes, and gets into his car to drive to work. There is traffic, but John is in control and focused on the way, running the document delivery in his mind. He is practicing the presentation out loud in the car. John arrives at work, goes to his office settles in, and enters his boss’s office. He delivers a well-thought-through effective presentation. That night he reaches the house, and everybody is sitting at dinner sharing their day, in a happy mood.



Same story, two different scenarios, they began the same but ended quite differently. The people are the same. Their approach, their attitude, their mindset, and their level of Emotional Quotient, were all different.


All because of How John chose to react to something that happened to him.

Ten percent (10%) of life is stuff that happens to you. Ninety percent (90%) depends on your choice of reaction to what has happened to you.

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Author: David_Nair1









David Nair

Mentor| Author of the book “IeXceL”| Life Coach| Corporate Strategist| Speaker| Peak Performance Strategist | Youtuber | Podcaster | Blogger