The Pareto Principle

You have so much going on that it can be quite overwhelming at times. To make it worse, a lot of what you spend your time doing doesn't add to your bottom line or help you accomplish your goals. With your attention pulled in so many directions it can be hard to keep focused on what truly matters. But how do you break this cycle and cut through the waste so you can focus on the truly important? 

 Vilefredo Pareto just might hold the key to unlocking the magic code to increasing productivity and regaining your sanity.

Never heard of Vilefredo Pareto? You're not alone.  

Vilefredo Pareto was an economist of little note who lived and died Switzerland almost 100 years ago. Not much of his work or life garners our attention. However, at some point in his 75 years of life Pareto stumbled upon a mathematical truth that could truly transform your life.

The Pareto Principle first popped up on my radar while reading The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss a little over a year ago. At it's most simple The Pareto Principle simply states that 80% of outputs come from 20% of inputs. This has been found to be true across all manner of disciplines including time management, customers, and economics.

A few alternative ways to look at the principle include:

• 20% of your customers generate 80% of your income

• 20% of your customers create 80% of you problems

• 80% of your results come from 20% of your effort and time

It drives home the concept of prioritization. What you focus on matters immensely. If you are focusing all of your efforts on the wrong things you won't get the results your working so hard to achieve. You will run yourself ragged with nothing to show. Thankfully, you can learn and apply the 80/20 principle to your life and alter the outcomes you are working so hard to reach.

Pareto and the 80/20 principle will be of most help to you if you leverage them to assess your current efforts. Here are three ways you can apply it:

1. Take stock of current efforts. Write down everything you are doing and outcomes it is producing. Be unattached from the outcomes here, simply list out your activity and how it has impacted your work, life, etc.

2. Reprioritize what's producing. Perhaps you find that phone calls are driving your business and resulting huge returns for you, despite the fact that you make very few. In that case, pick up the phone and start making more calls. The key here is to determine your areas of strength and multiply them.

3. Eliminate waste. Consider cutting those things that are wasting your time and energy. It might be something you think would be generating results but its just sucking up resources. Cut it ruthlessly. Find your inefficiencies and eliminate them. This will free you up to focus on what's actually generating for you.   

These three steps show where to double down and where to eliminate. Apply this principle to your life, get a hold of the few things that truly matter, and see how drastically it transforms things for you. 


Bonus tip:

Develop a "Stop Doing" List

A few weeks back I wrote a series of questions to help you evaluate the items on your "to do" list that pairs well with the Pareto Principle that will be helpful to you. Here is an expert from that post:

"The solution to your crazy schedule and consequently a crazy task list isn't just another list but the process of evaluating exactly what you are doing each day. A "stop doing" list helps you take a cold hard look at what you are doing and literally stop doing those things that are not the most fruitful for you and your team."

Bonus Resource:

For more on the Pareto Principle and other awesome tips that are sure to shatter your world, in a good way, check out The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss

Hard Conversations

We live in a broken, fallen world full of strife, difficulty and disagreement. We don't always get along with or agree with those around us. Maybe someone has done something that has hurt you financially, emotionally, or otherwise. You might feel bitter and you might be wounded, but things don't have to stay that way. 

Often the conversations you most dread are the ones you most need to have. There is something deep down inside us that knows exactly what we need to do. That feeling of dread or fear may not mean what you have always thought. Those knots in your stomach might not be telling you to run, but just might be confirming what you need to do. Whatever conversation has you scared, run towards it. Sure things could blow up in your face and go badly, but being willing to lean in and engage in tough conversations just might lead to outcomes you've only dreamed of.   

Tough conversations don't have to be negative or destructive. It can actually serve as an opportunity to strengthen your relationships and help you grow as an individual. If for no other reason, lean in and engage those you most fear. It has the potential to completely change everything. If you think about it in these terms, those tough conversations all of a sudden get a whole lot easier. 

Ok, you know you need to have a tough conversation but you aren't sure how. Here are a few quick hits that can help you master the art of the difficult conversation. 

Prepare your heart. This is the most challenging part of any difficult interchange. Before going to the other person pause and take a look at yourself. Search your own attitudes, words and actions. Many times you'll find that you've contributed far more to the relational strife your experiencing than you previously realized. Taking a swim in your own stuff will better prepare you to talk to someone else about theirs.

Be humble. humility looks good on you..jpg

Plan out what you will say. Scripting your conversation may be impractical however, it is extremely helpful to spend some time processing not only what you will say but how you will say it. While the content of your message is important, method and tone are even more so. A helpful way to address tone and method is by how you would like to be confronted. One golden rule that won't steer you wrong is to be humble. A humble attitude smooths over a lot more than you realize. 

Lead With Your Weaknesses

You're not perfect. Whether it's sarcasam, responding out of anger or not delivering on your commitments, you make dozens of mistakes each and every day. The temptation to hide and minimize your mistakes is overwhelming because the first thing you want to do is run as far from them as possible. 

While this is your natural tendency it might not always be the best strategy for responding to failure. Our failures provide us with an opportunity to take giant steps forward and helps us connect with others. Today, I want to encourage you not to run from or hide your failures but to embrace and share them openly. 

Display your authentic self. Openly discussing your short comings and failures knocks down the dividing wall and allows others to connect with you. Whether you are aware of it or not there is a dividing wall between you and those you impact and lead. Often times that wall of division is the gap between who you truly are and others perception of you. The quickest way to shrink this gap is to authentically share your struggles and failures. The fear in doing so is that it will change how people see you. The funny thing is that this fear is 100% true. They will see you differently, just not in the way you fear they will. 

Part of the reason people lean in and see you more positively when you share your struggles is that they can relate. People aren't perfect and they know it. They already know you aren't perfect either and that you make mistakes because you're human. Opening up and leading with your weakness displays confidence not the lack there of. People will follow a leader who doesn't run from his short comings. 

Be known for owning your stuff. The next time you drop the ball or just blow it, seize it for the opportunity that it is and own it. Do far more than acknowledge that you messed up, ask those impacted by your failure to forgive you. Trust me, this is a trait you want to be known for. It displays a humble heart, empowers others and will transform your relationships.