So let me bore or intrigue you with Pareto’s 20/80 principle

Some of you may be familiar with the theory but just in case here is a brief summation

The theory states that roughly 80% of results come from 20% of causes.  It is widely accepted in business that 80% of business comes from 20% of your customers, and so on.

80% of your social enjoyment/interaction comes form 20% of your friends

20% of any group will take 80% of the action

And so you now see where this is going.  How do you make sure that you are always in the 20% of any group that take action, make a difference, and reap rewards?

It is of course true that sometimes we belong to the 80% quite happily; it suits our purpose to be inactive.  But how do we make sure we are not in the 80% imagining we are in the high energy 20%?

I suppose it is all about effectiveness; if you keep doing what you have always done you will get the same results you have always got.

How on earth do you know when it is time to change the habits you have established and try something new; we know that certain tenacity at any task is required?  Whether that is finding a new job, starting a company or getting in the right place for a promotion.  But all too often we stay in that place too long.  We site our tenacity and ability to hold on all the time thinking – “something will change soon”   or perhaps we are a little scared to try something new?  Or perhaps we are not quite sure what to do?

The answer is ask some tough questions of yourself – are you stuck? And then, if not a complete change of direction than certainly some minor tweaks to how you have been doing things might bring a welcome shift.

I was saddened to note on one discussion group on LinkedIn (not ours) that one person commented that they have been running their business for 18 months and have yet to break even!  Some changes are needed, why is he going along in what is actually a very lucrative business that should be growing in a recession and yet basically losing money?  I wonder what help and support he is getting because he is certainly missing something.

So is he spending 80% of his time looking at only 20% of the possible solutions to what is a growing problem for him; surely the will run out of money soon?  And I doubt he has identified the 20% of actions that are bringing in some revenue.  Of course we want to enjoy our work and feel we are making a difference but business is there to make money by offering a service or product so that we in turn can feed ourselves and put a roof over our heads.  An exchange of energy if you like.

So if you are running a business or trying to make headway in a job you need to consider what 20% of actions are getting you the response you want?  If you are researching companies you might like to work for chances are when you start looking, if you pay attention you will soon find yourself narrowing in on around 20% and the loop goes on until you just have one or two that are potentially a really good fit for you.

Knowing this principle succeeds time and again surely the way forward is to consider each day (or at least each week) in these terms

What are you spending the most time on?

Where are your rewards (in whatever form) coming from

Where you might be considered in the 20% group – what are the rewards?

Consider the downside of being in any 80% group – at the very least no one will notice you and you are unlikely to get the results you would wish for.

Apparently the 20% group are the ones that move mountains – so what are you waiting for then?