Help! I can’t seem to get out of my death spiral. If you have been reading a while, you may remember that what I call the death spiral is when I lose it. Like what happened on the 3rd, 4th, 5th & 6th phone calls of the day to AT&T yesterday about my cable/internet outage. It was like I was living in the movie Ground Hog Day – caught in an endless cycle of insanity as the same thing kept happening over and over again. My service had been down for days.  It all started during the massive lightning storm last Saturday night.  It was the most wicked lightning storm in my recent memory. Click this hyperlink to see an amazing photo my friends Clay and Susan took of the lightning over Shem Creek.

My sister Jacquie, and my niece and nephew were visiting last weekend. When the storm hit, we quickly moved away from the windows, grabbed the wine, iPads and iPhones and gathered in my bedroom to wait out the storm. You can imagine our alarm when we heard fire trucks arrive, and saw the fireman hooking up their hose to the hydrant in my front yard. Pretty exciting for Day 5 in the new house!

After the storm, we met the firemen (see below), and learned that lightning had struck my neighbor’s house, and they put out a small fire.

Me and the Firemen

Thankfully no one was hurt, and amazingly we still had power, but, alas, no cable or internet.  So we spent the rest of the weekend playing board games and watching movies – no big deal. AT&T restored my service Monday, but everything went out again the next day for some reason. Now things were getting frustrating.

The “inside” technician (Len) who arrived the next day explained that the outage was happening somewhere “outside”, which meant an “outside” technician had to be scheduled.  So the next day, AT&T called to confirm my appointment for an “inside” technician – and had my old address. What?? So after calling several times to be CERTAIN they had the right information…guess what happened. Not only did they still send me an inside tech by mistake – it was Len again! So despite every effort I made to avoid it – the exact same thing happened.

So today, I know I am in the death spiral – at least I can say I am a little self aware. I love my new house, but Week 1 has been full of challenges. The HVAC is only cooling to 79 degrees, and after a battle with my home warranty company – that should be fixed in “3-5 business days”…and a fire across the street…seriously? I know my cable/wireless outage is not the end of the world. Through in a service call on the fridge, and you would start to question your decision too!

I know it could be so much worse. I am TRYING to regain perspective. But I am struggling to stop the spiral. I just COULDN’T resist calling AT&T one more time this morning thinking that I may be able to make a difference – and not surprisingly – I ended up more upset in the process.

Haven’t you been there too? When you think that you can change something – but you can’t, and you just end up banging your head against the wall?

I know I am in a classic example of Stephen Covey’s paradigm of the Circle of Concern/Influence, and I can’t seem to stop the insanity. Also I am forgetting Covey’s 90/10 Principle – and I seem to have completely forgotten that while I can’t control what AT&T is doing (or not doing) – I can control my reaction. With the pressure of so many things (or triggers), I have been blind to the choices in front of me – and I am back to being a pinball in something like the Plinko machine I had as a kid. And it’s not that simple to “chillax” as my nephew would say.

Here is my attempt to re-create the paradigm:

Laurie’s Circle of Concern/Influence

Can’t you feel the negative energy pushing the circle of influence smaller?

What I always loved about Covey was his ability to make his concepts visual. Creating this is a great reminder that I am colossally wasting my energy, and the more I keep at it – the worse it is getting.  

As usual, writing is helping me to clear out the cobwebs in my head. That and Donald, the “outside technician” knocked on my door as I was writing. I almost hugged him upon his arrival. He promised to get things fixed in an hour – and guess what, I am now back online! He was just a little sweaty – so it wasn’t too hard to resist hugging him goodbye.

Tonight I am finally going to chillax and watch the Olympics.


Stephen Covey’s 90/10 Principle & The Power of Choice

A photo of a cup of coffee.
Image via Wikipedia

A few days ago my father sent me an email about Stephen Covey’s 90/10 Principle. My dad almost never forwards mass emails, so I knew it had to be good. The 90/10 Principle states: 10% of life is made up of what happens to you…. 90% of life is decided by how you react.

As I read it the entire article by Covey, I was struck by thinking about how powerful our choices can be, and about how often we don’t realize the power that we have in our own control.

Most of the time, we are moving so quickly that we fail to see the choices in front of us.  We have information coming at us from all directions, so we hurry to keep up so that we can get everything done. When we get “triggered”, we react – sometimes destructively – without pausing to breathe, think, or feel before taking action ourselves. I felt compelled to share Covey’s wise words as a reminder to us to WAKE UP in order to be present in these moments.

What positive outcomes might be possible if you made a different decision before reacting to your triggers?

Here is the text of Covey’s article:

Discover The 90/10 Principle.

It will change your life (at least the way you react to situations).

What is this principle?

10% of life is made up of what happens to you…. 90% of life is decided by how you react.

What does this mean? 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 traffic.

We have no control over this 10%. The other 90% is different. You determine the other 90%.

How? ………. By your reaction.

You cannot control a red light. but you can control your reaction. Don’t let people fool you; YOU can control how you react.

Let’s use an example.

You are 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 cup over. She breaks down in tears. After scolding her, you turn to your spouse and criticize her 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 limit.

After a 15-minute delay and throwing $60 traffic fine away, you arrive at school. Your daughter runs into the building without saying goodbye. 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 coming home.

When you arrive home, you find small wedge in your relationship with your spouse and daughter.

Why? …. Because of how you reacted in the morning.

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?

The answer is “D”.

You had no control over what happened with the coffee. How you reacted in those 5 seconds is what caused your bad day.

Here is what could have and should have happened.

Coffee splashes over you. Your daughter is about to cry.You gently say, “Its ok honey, you just need to be more careful next time”. Grabbing a towel you rush upstairs. After grabbing a new shirt and your briefcase, you come back down in time to look through the window and see your child getting on the bus. She turns and waves. You arrive 5 minutes early and cheerfully greet the staff. Your boss comments on how good the day you are having.

Notice the difference?

Two different scenarios. Both started the same. Both ended different.


Because of how you REACTED.

You really do not have any control over 10% of what happens. The other 90% was determined by your reaction.

Here are some ways to apply the 90/10 principle. If someone says something negative about you, don’t be a sponge. Let the attack roll off like water on glass. You don’t have to let the negative comment affect you!

React properly and it will not ruin your day. A wrong reaction could result in losing a friend, being fired, getting stressed out etc.

How do you react if someone cuts you off in traffic? Do you lose your temper? Pound on the steering wheel? A friend of mine had the steering wheel fall off) Do you curse? Does your blood pressure skyrocket? Do you try and bump them?

WHO CARES if you arrive ten seconds later at work? Why let the cars ruin your drive?

Remember the 90/10 principle, and do not worry about it.

You are told you lost your job.

Why lose sleep and get irritated? It will work out. Use your worrying energy and time into finding another job.

The plane is late; it is going to mangle your schedule for the day. Why take outpour frustration on the flight attendant? She has no control over what is going on.

Use your time to study, get to know the other passenger. Why get stressed out? It will just make things worse.

Now you know the 90-10 principle. Apply it and you will be amazed at the results.

You will lose nothing if you try it. The 90-10 principle is incredible. Very few know and apply this principle.

The result?

Millions of people are suffering from undeserved stress, trials, problems and heartache. We all must understand and apply the 90/10 principle.

It CAN change your life!!!