“Hard work leads to low returns. Insight and doing what we want lead to high returns.” –Richard Koch

The 80/20 rule sounds like a mathematical formula and in some ways it is - but don’t fret, this isn’t a lesson on statistics. 


The rule came from an Italian economist, Vilfredo Pareto, who stated that 80% of the Italian income was earned by 20% of the Italian population. And it's been used ever since for a variety of things, primarily priority management by leaders around the world. 

Putting this into a self-leadership or organizational leadership perspective, what this means is that 80% of your outcomes come from 20% of your efforts. 

To put this another way, 20% of your activities equate to 80% of your results, of your happiness in work and life. And likely 20% of your top performing employees produce 80% of your results. Or, 20% of your leadership strengths when stretched and applied get you 80% of your results.

In writing about the 80/20 rule in this newsletter, we'll focus on how it helps us reach our highest potential, find fulfillment and success in our lives, and achieve our prioritized results. 


Success is defined in a multitude of ways and is personal to each of us - including health, relationships, doing work we love, financial security, spiritual and more.

When we look at business success, we find that  the top earning companies are a small percentage of all companies - yet they earn the largest portion of income. 

And if you look at financial success and your own money habits, you most likely spend most of your income on the few prioritized things like your mortgage, car payment, and food. And when we look at your relationship investments,  you probably spend most of your time with a few people each day - based on your daily agenda!

So how can you use the 80/20 rule to maximize your overall fulfillment, potential and results? 

Let’s look at John C. Maxwell's, the world's #1 leadership expert (see article here)  ,strategy.

His Law of Priorities tells us that: "Leaders understand that activity is not necessarily accomplishment." 

Many people are simply busy. They find themselves running in circles. Not achieving their goals. Burning out. Stressed. Running out of time...

John frequently talks about the fact that he is only good at a few things.  He doesn’t spend his time with those things he cannot do well or doesn't find fulfilling or simply doesn't want to do. 

By focusing on what you are good at – those few things that are your greatest strengths and passions; and not spending too much time on those things you're not good at, you maximize your effectiveness and are able to master your skills in the areas of your gifts and in what you love to do. In other words, focus on your leadership strengths and challenge yourself to grow them daily, while minimizing your areas of weakness and surrounding yourself with people who have strengths in the area of your weaknesses - know when to throw the ball! 

Focus on Your Strengths to Master Your Expertise


Malcolm Gladwell speaks on how to become an expert; and suggests that the common thread is spending 10,000 hours perfecting one’s craft.

Failing forward, learning, and doing it even better next time.  If you spread yourself across the board to become a Jack of all Trades,  you'll be a Master of None.

The results? Your effectiveness decreases and the 80/20 rule won't work in your favor. And the energy you'll require to lead a fulfilling life or a high-performance organization comes at the price of burnout.



Ultimately, time is the great equalizer.

We all have 168 hours in every week. Time doesn't stop for us, nor can we create more time. We can't manage time!  We can manage our priorities and our daily agendas. We all have choices on  who, where, how, when and what we spend our time - the secret is to intentionally prioritize these choices.



3 Steps to Leading a Fulfilling Life and Achieving Results

  1.  Write down what you love and what you are really good at - your strengths, your passion! Increase your self-awareness to stand strong in your strengths.
  2.  List out those things that distract you and cause you to spend time on activities and tasks that aren't your strengths, that you don't love, or that don't provide you the return for your energy, money and time. Create a STOP DOING list.
  3.  Develop others by delegating or hiring someone better equipped to do the lower return tasks on your list that still must be done. Or share duties with your children, partner, roommate, co-worker, team members etc.  Trade in your time and skillset for theirs - empowering them as part of your "team" or "inner circle!"

In Summary

We overestimate the event of "Achieving fulfillment and results"  and underestimate the process. The Law of Process tells us the "The secret of our success is discovered in our daily agenda." You may find that prioritizing can be uncomfortable and difficult. To reach our potential, fulfillment and success, we need to step out of our comfort zone, change our daily habits and keep our focus on the "Main Event" - our biggest priorities and goals!

And I think you'll find that when you clarify and then focus on those 20% of activities that get you the biggest return, the 80% yield will be worthwhile! 

For information on customized leadership training and leadership coaching including Myers-Briggs® and Emotional Intelligence, please contact me at Anita@PossibleConversations.com, or visit my website at www.PossibleConversations.com.

As an Executive Director with The John Maxwell Team, I can now offer your organization the "Living the Laws of Leadership Workshop," a two day immersion for maximum leadership improvement, influence and impact. Based on John C. Maxwell's book, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, this workshop will provide you with the practical tools you need to address leadership challenges you encounter daily within your profession. This is the same leadership training program offered to high-performing organizations worldwide.