Do you feel like you are wasting time and energy spinning your wheels with little or no results? Do you wonder why some people just keep winning while others can’t get onto the boards? Would you like to maximize your social, financial, and spiritual returns while minimizing your effort?
If so, your answer may lie in understanding the 80-20 Rule. This principle states that, for most events, 80% of the effects proceed from 20% of the causes. The rule is also known as “The Law of the Vital Few,” and “The Pareto Principle,” named after Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, who discovered that 80% of Italy’s income is in the hands of 20% of the population. He went on to confirm a similar statistic worldwide.
This principle most clearly reveals itself in many businesses, where 80% of the income derives from 20% of the clients. I have received corroborating testimonials from various professionals: A minister reported that 80% of the donations to his church came from 20% of the parishioners; a publisher told me that 80% of the company’s book sales derive from 20% of its books; and a hotel marketing director revealed that 80% of the group sales income came from 20% of its accounts.
The 80-20 Rule
This fascinating phenomenon can be applied to life domains other than business. According to a Wikipedia entry, you might wear 20% of your favorite clothing 80% of the time, and spend 80% of your leisure time with 20% of your friends.
How can you apply this principle to upgrade your personal and business effectiveness? The answer is simple, according to Tim Ferriss in his 2007 bestseller The 4-hour Workweek. Ferriss suggests that you figure out which 20% of your activities are generating 80% of your results, and focus your attention and efforts on that crucial element rather than the larger portion yielding you only minuscule returns by comparison. Makes perfect sense, wouldn’t you agree?
Metaphysically, we can apply this principle on an internal level. I suggest that 80% of your success and your forward movement comes from 20% of your thoughts. If you are like me, you have all kinds of niggly counterproductive thoughts that ramble through your mind in the course of a day.
This train of thought is circular, leading you back to where you began, with no productive results; plus, you feel worse after digging yourself into a mental and emotional rut, like the tire of a car spinning its wheels in mud or snow. Likewise, most thoughts that most people think do not take them where they would prefer to go. The question to ask, then, is, “Which thoughts take me to places I truly value, and how can I capitalize on them?”
20% Of Our Thoughts Are Creative, 80% Miscreative
A Course in Miracles tells us that only the thoughts we think in alignment with universal truth have any power; all else is a “miscreation.” The Course also tells us that “only the creations of light are real.” Applying the Pareto Principle, we might note that 20% of our thoughts are creative, and the other 80% are miscreative.
As long ago as 250 B.C., the Greek mathematician Archimedes posited his spin on the Law of the Vital Few. He declared, “Give me a place to stand and a lever long enough, and I can move the world.” In other words, one good thought that extends itself into positive creation is more meaningful than a thousand thoughts that have no platform in reality.
On a global level, if you look back through history you will see that civilization has been advanced by a small number of forward thinkers. Eventually the masses followed, but the vanguard of human evolution has been the small tip of a spiritual and intellectual arrow.
One more suggestion from Tim Ferriss: Fire the 20% of your customers that take up 80% of your time. Once again extrapolated internally, you might notice that 20% of your worrisome thoughts take up 80% of your energy. If you just considered your bothersome thoughts once or twice, they would not occupy much space in your mind or emotions. But you think the same irritating thoughts over and over and over again until they are blown into a proportion far greater than they deserve.
Someone said, “Worry is like a rocking chair. You keep going back and forth, but get nowhere.” So if you fire, or at least do not give attention to the 20% of your thoughts that annoy you, you may liberate 80% of your mind and energy to do the things you would really enjoy.
The Law of the Vital Few is incredibly simple, yet offers immense practical results. Take some time to sit down and make a list of your business projects, home endeavors, and social interactions, and most important, your thought patterns. Then note whether each activity falls within the 20% that gets the most results, or the 80% that begets the least results. Then plunge wholeheartedly into the Vital 20%, and you will have your hand on the crucial lever with which you can move the world.
*subtitles by InnerSelf
© Alan Cohen. All Rights Reserved.
Book by this Author
A Course in Miracles Made Easy: Mastering the Journey from Fear to Love
by Alan Cohen.
A Course in Miracles Made Easy is the Rosetta stone that will render the Course in Miracles understandable and relatable; and, most importantly, generate practical, healing results in the lives of students. This unique reader-friendly guide will serve longtime students of the Course, as well as those seeking to acquaint themselves with the program.
About The Author
Alan Cohen is the author of many popular inspirational books, including the forthcoming The Tao Made Easy and the bestselling A Course in Miracles Made Easy; Mastering the Journey from Fear to Love. Join Alan in Hawaii this December (2018) for his life-changing seminar Transformer Training to develop your skills and/or career as a teacher, healer, or leader. For more information about this program, Alan's books and videos, free daily inspirational quotes, online courses, and weekly radio show, visit www.alancohen.com
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