Today, right now, conduct an honest inventory: On what percentage of activities and behaviors that would make your various bosses (supervisors, customers, clients, and boos) happy do you actually deliver?
You keep your workspace pristine; you’re always on time; you stay late. You get everything on your To Do list done daily. So why are you not up for promotion? Could it be because the powers that be don’t give a toss about those trivialities? Because all they really care about (or 80 percent of it, at least) is innovative thinking, new ideas, novel strategies for success?
How about in your relationship? You bring home the bacon, you say? Fry it up in a pan? And never, never, never let him forget he’s a man? Great. But didn’t he ask for you to go hiking with him, to play hockey? Didn’t you say no?
You’re working your toes to the virtual bone, 18 hours a day, just for her and the kids. Really? Is that what they value? Is that what they asked for?
The point is, pay attention to what’s going to be on the test. Listen to what all the gatekeepers, keyholders, and masters tell you explicitly and implicitly about what they value. Then all-but ignore the rest.
Notice you don’t get to decide what’s on others’ vital few list. They decide. And they let you know. If you’re wondering, still—then ask. Why am I on the payroll? Why do they stay with me in this relationship? What are the best parts about being a mom?
Redouble your efforts in only those areas. Forget the rest. That’s the reason the Coca Cola company devotes most (about 80 percent) of its ads budget to its biggest seller, Big Daddy Coke, and splits all the rest among its catalog of other brands. Ever see a commercial for Yup? Kia Ora? Kinley cola? Why would you? If 50 of the “trivial few” beverage brands in its portfolio fell off the face of terra firma tomorrow, how much would Coca Cola suffer? At most, a 20 percent loss.
It’s why your favorite sports franchise spends 80 percent of its salary budget on 20 percent of its players (the stars; the rest of the players might as well be orthodontists for all they score).
And if you’re working for yourself – and aren’t we all, after all? – then carefully and regularly review what really matters to you—what you value.
The best part of employing the 80/20 Principle is that once you’ve determined what’s among the “vital few” items on your to-do list, you seldom feel conflicted about back-burnering all the other things—you’re just riding on the wave that’s moving rapidly toward your goal. Nothing else matters.
Now get back to work!