How To Embrace the 90/10 Rule

So many principles, so little time.  Today, I want to tackle the 90/10 principle (10% is the unexpected good or bad, 90% is what you choose) in relation to our life and career.

For many years I was told by mentors and colleagues that the 90/10 rule was important.  In the early years, I didn’t want to have the responsibility for 90% of my life.  It seemed so permanent to face the consequences of my choices.  And I certainly didn’t like the idea of the 10%.  Who wants to be at the mercy of the unexpected?

It was about 10 years ago that I really became conscious of the principle.  So much so that it now is a part of my culture.  I use the term conscious because unconscious living leads to incongruent values (I say exercise is important, but I never do it) or plain old hypocrisy.  No judgment here, but you need to be awake.

Here’s how to embrace the 90/10 rule:

  • You must embrace because the 90/10 rule embraces you.  Like it or not.
  • When you embrace, your emotional intelligence goes way up.  All of sudden you think before you act.
  • You must tame the beast inside.  Call it misplaced ambition, preoccupation with the opinions of others or greed.  When you realize that 90% of life is what you choose, you’ll think twice about walking all over people.
  • You’ll begin to think about your foundation.  Is it sand or stone?  When the unexpected comes what will keep you anchored?
  • Embracing the rule will simplify things.  It won’t make life easy, but it will make you decide what’s most important in career and life.
  • You’ll make the breakthrough to realizing that no one/organization can make you happy.  Happiness is a choice (there’s that 90% again) and only you can make this one.
  • You’ll stop being afraid of your destiny and get on with the mission.
  • The Oscar for best motion picture should be your life.

Reach out to me if you need help or more direction.

Identity and Career

Rare is the man or woman who can walk with graceful indifference to their career. I once had a music teacher advise me to learn all the theory I could, and then forget it.

Be the best you can be in your craft and then let it go. Really.

Identity and career are two parts of life that should never meet. If they do, it can be lethal, and very difficult to separate. A career can take over and leave true identity on life support. I speak from experience. It takes a long time to regain, or replace, what you lose.

I’ve found these dangers in the mixing of identity and career:

  • Quiet resignation. This occurs when we get older or have been at something for a while. The lie we tell ourselves is “we’re in too deep, and it could be worse.”
  • The high. It feels good in the moment, so we desire the thrill. We enjoy being seduced by flattery and accomplishment. Nothing quite like being the one to watch.
  • The ghost of our father. This one is so subtle. We watched a man, or a woman, toss away life for not much in the end. That script then becomes our own.
  • The payback. Somewhere we got wounded and the chip appeared. This is the closet sociopath coming out to wreck the place.
  • The false obligation. We pull out all the noble reasons for staying. “I have a mortgage, I have my kid’s college education.” It’s as if we think we’ll be excused for our fear in the end.

The choice is mine, the choice is yours. We have to remember that career is a great dance when the identity is kept separate. The challenge is found in living in a culture that values the opposite.

Don’t Let Career Snuff Out Your Dreams

Dreams are fragile things. They’re given as a spark, designed to turn into a flame. That flame should only go out if used to ignite the new dream.

That’s why I don’t want you to let career snuff out your dreams.

No surprise, but keeping our dreams alive is very hard work. More and more hard work is not esteemed. We’ve been programmed (deceived) to believe there’s an easier pathway. The reality remains, keeping dreams alive requires hard work. It’s worth all you have.

I see our dreams as brushstrokes on the canvas of our lives. We were made to dream.

The most insidious enemy of our dreams is career. Career is the ring, the untamed beast, the riptide. It can be mastered when one orders their lives. It be made to be slave if you have the courage to be who you are. If not, it will seek to be the dominate force in your life. I’ve been fighting for over ten years.

Here’s why:

  1. I want to make God smile
  2. I want my family to have a legacy rooted in the power of dreams
  3. I know the BS our society spews, is just that, BS. Didn’t always see that, but now I do
  4. It makes choosing happiness worthwhile
  5. Dreams are key ingredients in destiny


What are you doing with your dreams?

What Millennials Want

Boy Under a Bench

Gave a talk yesterday to a group of mostly millennials. One thing was clear in our interactive experience, what millennials want is:

  • Clarity
  • Balance
  • Epic

I’m sure there’s more to add to my list, but those 3 leaped out to me. I’ve read the data around what millennials want, versus what their parents wanted. It’s rare to see it upfront and close.

On the clarity front, it looks like many are overwhelmed by the pace and choices that make up existence. With so much screaming for attention, it’s not surprising. Keeping in mind that much of what screams is a complete waste of time. We know this in our gut, all the while the tracer bullets continue to fly.

You have to learn the art of saying no.

Balance goes hand in hand with clarity. With many employers demanding more and more, millennials (all of us) are fighting to not lose their lives, as they build a career. There’s a question mark hanging out there. Many are wondering can a career, as defined by the employer, live at peace with a great life.

Choosing a great life is the only way to find balance.

My talk yesterday was about leading an epic life. Some are disturbed by this because they want it and they know in their core it is the way we were meant to be, yet they find mediocrity all around. America has descended into a swamp filled with it. Others want it and are willing to do the work of finding an epic life. I know you see the difference. The choice between the two has always been in hand.

Your epic life was deposited into you in the beginning.


The Who of You

The above TED Talk got me thinking about many things. David Brooks stirred my soul and provided confirmation of the state of things. The state of who, or what, should be master.

It really is about the who of you.

I stand on the battleground of souls and lives. This was evident to me over 10 years ago, as it is now. As noble as that may echo, it really doesn’t matter, outside of the context of what you want life to be. Many are living under the sun and hope that will produce happiness and contentment. It doesn’t. All of the striving, all of the ignoring, all of the convincing self-talk will never provide lasting results. If it did, we’d have satisfaction. Ever notice how America continues to scream out that you need more education, more career mobility, more recognition, more money?

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

The wizard had a great gig, until Toto got in the way. He had us convinced that we could fool the audience with tricks from a traveling carnival. He told us the curtain was an absolute necessity to keep the audience from discovering what was real. “They will never understand,” he whispered to us in the deep of night. We believed him.

Now, here’s the irony, in my modern culture (an eroding one), most are still trying to conjure a spell or trick. We panically negotiate with the audience. We tell them what they thought was true, was just their imagination. We hope for the miracle of distraction. Maybe they won’t figure out who we really are.

As we face the truth, the deceptive self-talk kicks in:

  • “It could be worse, some people don’t have a job.”
  • “You tried before, and it didn’t work.”
  • “They won’t look at someone, who’s done that.”
  • “You need to make sure, you’ve got x number of followers and likes.”
  • “No one would think less of you, if you gave up.”

Ten years ago I had an audience that said, “OK, Eric, show us another trick.”

Find the who of you while there’s time.


There’s One in Every Crowd

one in every crowd

Picture yourself going along and things are flowing as you like. You might even feel genuinely successful. And behold, out of nowhere (feels like that) comes the one. The one who wants to point out where you’re off or what you’ve missed.

There’s one in every crowd.

It’s not fair to have someone come in and point out the latest rumor regarding your project, or point out all of the terrible dangers ahead if you proceed. Alas, life is not…

I now look for these folks. Yep, that’s right, I look for them. I see them as a barometer of what I may be onto. Does my idea make anyone feel threatened or uncomfortable., Remember, Martin Luther King, Je. had folks tell him that forming boycotts was too risky. There are numerous examples of people who the status quo felt were dangerous. You might call them an annoyance, which they are, we just need to see the bigger picture. You don’t want your movie dominated by a jealous bit player. These types have often given up and given in. They don’t want to see you rise. The mission is too important to crumble under the weight.

I have a warning for you. The people who take on these roles in your story can be deceptive. Look at them as old hands who know how to upset the cart. They come to you subtly and in a caring manner. Don’t get sucked in. I would even advise you do something  daring. In your next encounter, ask a probing question for motive and then embrace silence. Don’t say a word no matter how uncomfortable it feels. Count 10 breaths in your head, stare into space, but do not speak. The uncomfortable silence is designed to bring out motive. Best that you know who and what you’re dealing with.

It’s not a question of if you’ll meet the “one in every crowd,” but when. The encounter after is what makes all the difference.

The Tempest Inside


Originally posted back in late 2012, it’s one of my favorites and timely considering this.

Do you have a tempest inside you? I do.

I can’t speak for you, but I’ve learned it’s the catalyst for my creativity. Pulsing and demanding to get out, I don’t fight it any longer. I used to see this, at times, as a curse. A cruel burden to carry in an even crueler world.

The tempest I write about is the one that is a gift. It’s the type that spurs on great pursuits and the impossible. Yes, the impossible stuff. It’s the evidence of authenticity and clarity.

I’ve heard many a great thinker (Seth Godin, Scott Griffin, Sir Richard Branson) who has said that future will not be kind to the doer, but will embrace the creators. Before you think me special, being a creator is in everyone. Don’t wait until your forced into being a creator. By then it may be too late. The issue comes down to the willingness to let this creativity out.

I am a man who allowed the “world” to dictate my view, and it cost me. My story is in process and it is happy. Happy, because I chose to embrace the “tempest” and let it launch my creativity.

The following are some things to consider about the tempest:

  • There will be failure. Get over it, embrace it, work through it, but it’s there to refine you and test you. Learn.
  • You will be embarrassed. You’ll pronounce your great idea or work and people will cock their head like a dog wondering what are you doing?
  • You will feel more things you never thought you would.
  • It will teach you to do things that you’d rather avoid. You won’t regret this. The end of the comfort zone.
  • It will lead you to the place of dreams and legacy. Most everyone wants this, I would dare say needs this.

Going in With Eyes Wide Open

Every human has emotional, mental and spiritual needs.  And certainly those differ from person to person.  The trick is who or what you use/ask to meet the needs.

One area that I have observed that is way out of whack is our use of work in meeting needs.  Many folks have expectations of their employers that are totally unrealistic.  One of the best examples is unspoken (unwritten in most cases) agreement when a job is taken/filled..Often the employee sees it as a statement of worth that "xyz" employer would hire him or her.  Conversely, the employer assumes the employee knows that the relationship is conditional.  Conditional in that the job remains as long as the economic output justifies it. 

I belieive you're responsible for yourself and not your employer.  My point is the necessity of going in with eyes wide open.  Doing and creating great work doesn't hurt either.

Are You An Entrepreneur Yet?

One of my coaching clients sent me this article on entrepreneurism. Specifically, the coming change in our workplace landscape. Many would say we're under way and I agree. The article includes a telling infographic as well.

So what are you doing about the shift? No drastic measures needed (maybe), just some hard looking and processing. One of the best ways to do this is written planning. Brainstorm the thing and ask lots of questions. By the way, throw the glamour, riches and elation around your employer out the window. This is about your work (the unique talents, gifts and passions forged into one), not your career, not your 401K.

I've written about this topic for some time. It was nice to have a client forward on an article of this magnitude. It encouraged me and it made me realize the work still to be done.

5 Questions with Alan Corey, Author of The Subversive Job Search

Corey book cover

Great conversation with Alan Corey, author of the The Subversive Job Search: How to Overcome a Lousy Job, Sluggish Economy, and Useless Degree to Create a Six-Figure Career. His insights might surprise you.

Why do you think most
job-seekers trust the status quo approach to looking for new employment?

No one is
taught job hunting in school so many job hunters get their job searching advice
from a trusted family member or friend who they think has great job. They want
to know how he or she was able to do it so they can replicate the same steps.
Unfortunately, that advice is always outdated as they’ve probably have held
that job for five or more years and even worse, it may be the only job they
have ever had.

You want to
talk to someone how is constantly job hunting. Ask them how they are getting
noticed? What is working and what is not working? I’ve had 5 jobs in 24 months
and I learned a lot as I was constantly on the hunt. And I’m still learning
more.  But the big difference is that
employers are hiring differently than they have in the past.

A decade ago,
employers hired based on an employee’s potential. If you came from a good
school or had a college degree, then you’d be worth taking a chance on. But now
employers don’t have time or budget to train new employees, which means job
seekers need to come in with value on day one. 
It’s on the job seeker to pay to get their own training, have to find
their own way to build up their own skill set, and create their own working
experience. Showing you can come to work the first day with value is the
difference between getting noticed or not by a hiring manger in today’s

In your book you discuss your
struggles with depression. It seems like depression would go hand-in-hand with
a loss of a job, what advice would you give to someone in that spot?

Yes, I was unemployed for a
year and suffering depression and the number one thing is getting help. Depression
sucks the life out of you, and without help from family and therapy I may still
be there.  Talking about it helped a lot
and allowed me to look at my situation in a new light.

If you find yourself in this
situation reach out to family, friends, and professional help. My therapist
gave me the tools to get back on my feet. There shouldn’t be shame associated
with losing your job. It happens. It’s life. I realized I was one of millions
suffering from lack of employment and it gave me encouragement to try job
hunting in different ways.  I eventually
made job hunting my number one focus, stopped blaming others for my problems,
stopped blaming the economy for poor job prospects, and taught myself how to
job hunt subversively.

Is it important to know what’s
most important in your life when considering the next opportunity?

This is a
huge key to job hunting. I’ve job hunted for different reasons based on my and
my family’s needs. I’ve taken jobs just for the paycheck, I’ve taken jobs for
the experience, and I’ve even taken jobs for the abundance of vacation days it
provided.   Each served a different
purpose of my life at different times.

It’s crucial
to recognize where you stand in your career. If you are entry level, go for the
experience. Or better yet, go for what excites you or what you want to learn
about.  And realize that every job you
land may end quicker than you think it will, so always be building up your
skillset so you are instantly employable in case you get laid off. By taking
after-hour classes, networking outside your office, and reading your career’s
industry-focused magazines you’ll begin to learn what it is that you want from
your career and you’ll also know what it will take to get there. Working on
your career doesn’t just stop when you leave the office.

Where do you see the U.S. job
market heading in the next 3-5 years? Will people get more subversive in their
approach to finding employment?

I think the
job market will be improving and I see no other way to job hunt than to be a
bit subversive. You have to make yourself a big fish in this huge sea of job
applicants. This can be done by branding yourself correctly, working online or
for free to earn a reputation, or finding ways to be noticed within your career
niche.  If you are labeled as an expert
at something, even if it is just one tiny task or responsibility, this goes a
long way to get employed. Someone out there will have a need for this expertise
and is willing to pay top dollar for an employee to fill it.  If you recognize what these skill sets are
with your career, you’ll be no longer be a job hunter, but you’ll be head-hunted
instead by well-connected recruiters and hiring managers. The ideal situation
for anyone looking to further their career.

What advice would you give the
person, just out of college, trying to land their first job?

With hard work comes experience, with
experience comes opportunities, and with opportunities comes luck.  And with all of these four things working for
you, then comes wealth. To be a graduate shows you’ve got the ability to work
hard, but most graduates lack experience that makes them the in-demand hires
they want to be.

I’d recommend freelancing online via website like and to
earn real-world experience as quickly as possible and to prove you are a self-motivated
candidate. This is also a great way to learn what you like within your career,
learn what skills are in demand, and make a little money on while you job hunt.
Furthermore, they’ll have actually talking points to discuss in future
interviews that can help them make a great first impression.


Alan Corey is the personal
finance and career author of “A
Million Bucks by 30
” and “The
Subversive Job Search
.” You can learn more about him by visiting his
website at or by
following him on Twitter @alancorey.