Where to use the 80/20 rule and where to ignore it?
In all likelihood, you probably have heard of the 80/20 rule. If you have not, here is what it says. It says that 20 percent of your efforts result in 80 percent of the result and the rest of the 20 percent of the results come from 80 percent of the effort!
This thus means that in order to generate the bulk of the results, what matters is not putting in a huge amount of effort but identifying only the 20 percent of actions that make all the difference and focusing on them.
Now people are often split into two camps. A lot of people often get mixed up with either applying the 80/20 rule all the time or being a complete perfectionist and delaying things unnecessarily. So how do should make the decision of what philosophy to follow?
The answer is it completely depends on the situation.
Let’s say you are involved in sales. For business outreach you maybe using calls, emails, Linkedin, attending networking events, giving people gifts, showing up at prospect’s offices, contacting middle-men etc. Over a period of time, you study and realize that you get the most profitable deals by directly emailing the top decision makers and all the other methods don’t work that well for you. The 20 percent that generates most of your results is email, so you focus on doing more of that and stop wasting time on others. This is where the 80/20 rule ought to be applied.
On the other hand. Suppose you are launching a rocket into space, or conducting a bypass surgery or operating a commercial flight, can you say you will only put in 20 percent of the effort and get 80 percent of the results? If you do that the rocket launch will fail, the bypass surgery will kill the patient and the flight will crash! Alternatively, there are some areas of your business where even a slight mistake can result in a major problem
So, apply the 80/20 rule where in areas where focusing on the 20 percent gives better returns with less effort and doesn’t lead to any significant negative consequences. Stay committed to extreme excellence in areas where the consequence of going even slightly wrong is disastrous.
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