I would like to start this post by sharing with you one of the most important and foundational business principles I have learned over the past 13-14 years. I realize this is not a “business blog” but at times there are lessons I have learned in business that I have also found to have profound applications in other areas of my life. This is one of those times. And for the reader who does own and operate a business, I would say that this one principle has the potential to revolutionize your profits and productivity for the rest of your career. It is the one lesson that I find myself continually dwelling on every single day I work. However, you should continue to read even if you don’t own a business, because, as you will see, there will be profound life application. So here it is…
In 1906 there was an Italian economist by the name of Vilfredo Pareto who noticed that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population. He then further developed this revelation when he realized that 20% of his pea pods in his garden contained 80% of the peas. This lesson/principle went on to become widely known as the 80/20 principle in business and has also been referred to as “Pareto’s Principle”. I think that nearly everyone who has ever worked in any type of sales position would agree that usually 20% of the sales force generally produces 80% of the sales. Approximately 20% of my education produced 80% of the results: Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic. A kindergarten teacher would probably agree that 20% of her kids produce 80% of the chaos in the classroom. The list could go on and on. The reason why I find myself daily coming back to this principle as a business owner is this….I could easily make a list of 20-30 different things that are part of my job duties as a business owner. However, there are only 3-4 of those things that are truly income producing activities. These things represent my 20%. My goal, as a business owner, is to delegate or sacrifice everything else and focus all of my resources (mainly my time) into those 3-4 things. You could say that it is not what I have done that has caused my business to grow, but instead, what I have chosen not to do. So, how does this relate to my personal life?
Several years ago I was reflecting upon this principle as I was going for an afternoon jog and I had a revelation of sorts. I realized that 80% of my stress, worry, and anxiety were being caused by 20% of the problems in my life. Actually, it was just 1-2 issues that I needed to fix that were having huge ripple effects throughout every other area of my life!! These 1-2 root problems were creating or enhancing other problems in nearly every part of my life. They had to be fixed and they had to be fixed immediately!! I would be willing to bet that if you listed all of your problems, worries, fears, anxieties, stressors, etc… that you would find the same thing. There are usually only 1-2 things that need to be dealt with that would absolutely revolutionize the entire course of your life. This was a great realization for me because although I could have made a list of 10-20 things that I thought needed to be fixed in my life, I realized that I needed to focus all of my effort into just 1 or 2 of them.
So what is your 20% that would alter the entire course of your life? What are the one or two problems you need to fix or focus on that are having ripple effects throughout almost every other area of your life? Is it financial? Is it your marriage? Is it your weight/health? Is it alcohol? Is it a hidden and un-confessed sin? What is it? It could be something spiritual or it could be something practical. My encouragement to you today is this….Fix just one or two things and you will dramatically alter the entire course of your life!!!!
Author: Mike Mazyck