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.

No More Taking Things for Granted

A re-post and reminder.

New York - On the rock - Empire State Building

September 11 is only a couple of days away.  For those living in America (and beyond), it is a sacred day.  As well it should be.

I remember much about that day 10 years ago.  It still shapes much of my thinking as a context for the life I lead now.  The events left me exposed.  In the sense that I was trying to find my way with the wrong compass.

I heard the stories of mothers, fathers, brothers, and sisters who would never come home again.  I felt sad.  But there I was, taking for granted so much in my life.  I was a little lost and wandering what my role (the real one) was to play.  It took some years after 9/11 to get to the following place:

I am no longer in the business of taking things for granted.

At some point events converged and I began to see my life as a whole and not just parts.  And again, it took me time to understand it and live it.  Twists in the road made for much sickness.  It was a process that I worked (still do) and committed to.  I didn’t want to be that person who woke one day to find he’d never really lived.

An odd thing occurred last week at a talk I attended.  I was asked what my greatest fear was.  The answer:

Not doing meaningful work, paid or otherwise.

For me it was a gut check on what I believe, what I value and whether I was willing to see my mission through until the end.  I know this post won’t bring anyone back or heal a broken heart, but it’s worth noting I am no longer in the business of taking things for granted.  Maybe that’s the best tribute I can give.

Who Gave You Permission?


I’m sure you remember the term, who gave you permission, from grade school. Permission is important. It’s important even if you don’t realize it.

We give permission every day of our lives. Permission to market to us, permission to engage, permission to listen, and so much more. Have you thought about who truly has the right to speak into your life? Who have you given permission in this area? I mean your life.

Who has the authority?

I’m blessed because so many of you have given me permission to speak into your lives. Included in this are my coaching clients and others who seek my input. I firmly believe the reason why this happens is experience. I don’t speak to things I haven’t encountered and grappled with. I would even say, conquered. That process and a mission, gives me authority.

Be careful with who you give permission to. Your journey is far too important to trust to those who want what is yours, versus you. The following are some tips on knowing who deserves a chance to receive your permission:

  • Does the person or entity have the experience to help you? Formal education with a piece of paper is great, but there’s nothing quite like scars from going through the fire you’re going through. You can take a chance on someone who hasn’t, just keep your eyes wide open and no when to call it a day.
  • Are they in a hurry? Anyone that can’t wait for you to process and feel right about the decision, is usually just selling something.
  • Is the product right? Be honest with yourself. Giving permission, just because you think it’s the proper thing to do will usually deliver disappointment. There was a time when I wanted desperately for things to go a certain way. In that process, I bought many a product/service/marketing I believed would deliver the magic. I wasn’t being honest with myself.
  • What’s there response when you explain that you’re not ready yet? This will tell you a lot.
  • Do you know what you want? Certainly, there are many wolves out there. Don’t make it worse by being a wanderer.

The Eighth Called Family

I thought this would a post worth repeating, considering Monday's post on parenting.

Ask almost anyone you know about how important family is and I'm sure you'll get a unanimous "very."  Obviously, not everyone's family looks or acts the same.  Nor does the importance factor apply to all assoicated.  But one thing's for sure, whether it's a mother, a child or a wife, family is very important to most.  It's a heart thing like no other.

Then why is it so ignored and why is it a struggle to manage?

My experience says we live in an age of what we feel versus what we do.  It's a dangerous yet romantic exercise.  On one hand we think and feel the emotional high of family, and on the other we trample them under the foot of our pursuits.  I haven't even mentioned  the hard work that is found in family relationships.  Not many a newlywed is interested in hearing that the man lying next them will often leave the toilet seat up or have a serious problem with resolving conflict.  

So all of this leads us to the question of; is there a way to manage and nurture family and still be able to have all the other stuff of life balance out?  Absolutely!  But you'd best do this before they (employer, business partners, schooling) start passing around the kool-aid.  Very difficult to turn around if you've sold your soul.  That said, it's never too late.  It's never too late to properly order your life around the 8 areas of life.  It takes courage and commitment, but it's never too late start the journey.  I'm always fascinated by the trickery we play in our heads.  For example, "I'm not smart enough" or "I'm too old."  If you truly want this life to be well, then the excuses have to stop.  And with all the obstacles I believe.

So what's this "properly ordered life look like?  Quite simply, you integrate the 8 areas of life into your daily existence.  You won't be perfect and it is tough work.  However, there is one result I know you'll appreciate; a life well-lived.  And for the sake of this post, your family will be as healthy as your career, your money, etc.

5 Things I Haven’t Forgotten


The following are 5 things I haven't forgotten along the way of my travels:

  1. It will be my life that will be measured in eternity.  God won't be spending 60% of his time with me asking about my career and money choices.  It'll be a part of the conversation, just not as big as it often can be in this world.  
  2. Relationships are hard work.  In America, we have this obsession with ease and pleasure.  In some areas this is totally appropriate.  In a relationship (you fill in the blank) ease and pleasure come as a result of the hard work.  It's hard work because anything worth your time should require something big from you.
  3. I can't fix or save anybody.  All I can do is offer with encouragement and kindness.  The choice to do something is totally out of my control.  After watching many of my family members experience the affects of alcohol and drug abuse, I know this well.
  4. Change is a part of life and you'd better be prepared to face ridicule for embracing it.  I never had as much peace as when I was in the box that many had grown comfortable with.  Some of this is people getting used to change, but the remainder is from the "crowd."  I now understand that the two are intertwined.
  5. I don't have to have all the answers.

8 Areas For Your Attention And Commitment

What if you gave five minutes to your 8 key areas of life today? 

It's 1:12 PM EST where I'm at, so for those of my subscribers in Europe and Asia you should apply this on your next day.  But for the rest of us, we can fit this in today.

We're talking 5 minutes.  A total of 40 minutes out of 24 hours.

Here are the areas:

  1. Body
  2. Mind
  3. Spirit
  4. Money
  5. Career
  6. Learning
  7. Family
  8. Social

I fully understand that your career is getting 8 or more hours of your attention, but the point is not perfection or equal distribution of time.  The point is attention and commitment to your whole life.  I'm recommending starting small in-order to find great.  I believe with some effort and desire you might find out how precious your life really is.

Leave a comment and let the community know how your experiment went.



Updates and Such

Thought I would inform you all of my wanderings:

  • Been working on a new model (for me anyway) to venture into.  Totally unrelated to Epic Living, except it has the "help" element.  Been a struggle and has taken longer than I expected.  I undertook this new venture to help stop the financial bleeding that Epic Living has been experiencing since the beginning of 2009.  Yes, I am not immune to the perfect storms of the American economy.
  • Been grieving more deeply about my dad and his absence.  This one is ongoing.  Can't deny the void, and I don't quite see what will grow from that right now. 
  • Trying to re-learn some of my family leadership roles.
  • Learning the heart of being-leadership versus doing-leadership.  A contrarian art if there ever was one.
  • Learning every day not to take anything for granted.  Seems that God really wants me to understand this.  My dealings with living and dying have awakened this sleeping giant.  I'm waking up every day looking for the gifts given from above, and then act upon them, even when they break my heart, don't make sense or cause me to be afraid.
  • Learning more about the honesty of wine-really.

More to come…