I’m a huge fan of the Pareto’s Principle or 80/20 Rule – “The 80/20 Rule means that in anything a few (20 percent) are vital and many(80 percent) are trivial.”

Vilfredo Pareto started his theory based on wealth distribution (20% of people have 80% of the wealth) and later on Dr. Joseph M. Juran used it to describe Quality Management which is where I was introduced to this idea.  (Welcome to your Sunday morning lesson in history and fun management buzz words)

Here’s my own little twist.

“They” say that you should always give 100%.  “They” say any less and you’re not passionate about what you do or you’re not fully committed.  I believe “They” don’t get it.

If I give 100% to any one thing, where is my focus when the Wife Unit needs me?  If I’m 100% work, when will I spend time with the Teen, Warrior, and Little Miss?

For you math people out there, you’re about to hate me – I give 80% at all times because in that moment I’m focused on a task, I want to be in the moment, but I need to be aware of the all the vital things in my life, my 20%.

  • When I’m at work, 80%
  • When I’m with my kids, they get 80%
  • When I’m in meetings, 80%
  • When I’m with my Wife, 80%
  • When I’m having some Me Time – 80%

Here’s how it works:

I was in a deep discussion about basement remodeling with a neighbor when Little Warrior came bounding down the steps to share with us that my neighbor’s wife gave him a granola bar.  Normally, if I’m in the middle of a conversation, the kids will get the Daddy Hand to wait their turn.  This time, I simply didn’t acknowledge him at first while I finished my thought.

At the middle of the staircase Little Warrior caught his foot and went flying through the air, clutching his granola bar to his chest.  His beautiful, large cranium tipping the balance of his little body in a direction that stitches were definite.

Without stopping my verbose discussion on the benefits of foam insulation and water-proofing basements, I took a step, reached out and caught his foot in the air.  Lowering him to the ground, I noticed my neighbor’s eyes had turned anime-style with a look of awe.

You see, if I had been 100% into that conversation, Little Warrior might have some neat scars across his face and that day could’ve been a lot different.  I was 80%, so that my radar could keep up with the rest of the world around me and in turn, keep the hopes of my Little Warrior being able to date eventually.

Another good example in the world:

I mentioned the “They” earlier, “They” say  give 100%.  Most of the time, They are sports people.  But even Olympian’s don’t give 100% all the time.  You practice and if you’re doing it right, you’re practicing perfectly.  Which means take your time and learn it right first, so you can be great eventually.  The only time an Olympian gives it their ALL, is when competing.  AND EVEN THEN IT’S NOT 100%.

Before 1954, it was considered impossible to run a 4 minute mile.  Roger Bannister then broke the record and people might have thought, “Wow, he gave over 100% because no one has done that before!”

Instead, more people are completing it under 4 minutes, all the way to the current world record holder at 3:43.13.

Are there times where I am probably not giving it my 80?  Of course, some days I just don’t have it in me.  But other days, I need to push myself to 85 or even a 99% during a particular time.  When I have a hard project at work.  Or if the Teen needs my attention, really needs it – he gets 100% during that moment.  Most of the time, the 20% of the things in my life are already receiving 80% of my time.

I’m not a sports enthusiast, but I can appreciate that sometimes not committing all of our efforts into a single area allows us to open ourselves up to possibilities.  If your goal was to have the record in the mile, then I say – give your 80%, because you’re going to need that other time to get ice cream and think about the rest of your world so that you have something to do after you crush the record.

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