Have you heard of the Pareto principle? Many people know it as the “80/20 Rule” or the “Law of the Vital Few”.
Undoubtedly, you are consistently thinking about your goals, your vision, your purpose and all the things you want to accomplish and all the contributions you want to make. So much to do and so little time.
This begs the question, “how do you best spend your time to maximize the investment?”
Whether you are an individual achiever or a person who leads a team, undoubtedly you have discovered that activity is not necessarily accomplishment. There are times when we are busy and we believe we are achieving…but unfortunately we are not making the progress we should.
The great Peter Drucker said, “There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.”
Isn’t that the truth? Haven’t we all been there?
I catch myself spending hours on email and reading news stories only to look up and realize I have not made any true progress towards the goals that matter.
This is where the Pareto Principle comes into play. Pareto was an Italian economist who noted that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population. He subsequently noticed that 80% of the peas in his garden came from 20% of the peapods.
I know for a fact that over the course of my career 80% of my team’s sales production has come from 20% of my sales people.
Could it also be true that 80% of your results can come from just 20% of your efforts?
If this is true, and I believe it is, then you have an opportunity to create major progress by focusing on the efforts that will truly make a difference.
To identify these truly high leverage activities (HLAs) I encourage you to ask these three questions to uncover your HLAs:
- What is required? What is absolutely required of you? These are things that only you can, or should, do. For many of you this is casting vision, hiring, firing, motivating, selling, communicating with the board, negotiating strategic partnerships, etc.
- What provides the biggest return? What are the high value activities that bring the greatest return to your team? You challenge is to delegate the tasks that are not high leverage. If someone else can do the task, even if it’s just 75% as well as you could, you are most likely better off delegating it to someone else.
- What provides the biggest reward? What gives you, personally, the biggest reward? With the biggest rewards comes positive energy.
Personally, I love to cast vision and inspire others to achieve great things. I lose energy when I must attend to the details that are required to ultimately make the vision a reality.
As a result, I work hard to attract inner circle members who can handle the details. I look for people who are energized by getting things done right with high attention to detail so I can focus on creating and inspiring others.
Continually focus on HVAs that are at the intersection of the answers to the three questions above. By doing so you will find yourself working on the few activities that will bring you, and your team, the greatest return.
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