Maximize your Impact with the Pareto Principle
ChatGPT 5 Sentence Summary:
The Pareto Principle, also known as the 80/20 rule, states that 20% of our efforts produce 80% of our results. Warren Buffet applies this idea to investing, only choosing to invest in the 20% of opportunities he deems “great” while leaving the 80% of merely “good” investments. Joseph Juran, a quality control specialist, adapted the principle to quality control finding that solving just a few problems could greatly increase quality. In order to apply the principle to personal goals, one can ask for feedback from teammates or coaches, as they are the customers with expectations for your performance. By analyzing feedback data, one can determine which areas to focus on for improvement, as well as which areas to focus on when performance is needed, leading to the biggest impact possible. Ultimately, recruiting the community in one's endeavor can provide valuable insight and perspective.
By the end of this article, you’ll have a rule of thumb to help guide you in how you spend your time.
Have you ever felt like what you’re doing isn’t having the impact you would like? Or found yourself spread thin from too many possible ventures?
The simple fact is that most of what we do, and where we spend our time, doesn’t amount to much. According to Vilfredo Pareto (a name to envy), 20% of our efforts produce 80% of our results.
Warren Buffet uses this idea, opting only to invest in the 20% of opportunities he sees as “great” while leaving behind the 80% of merely “good” investments. This is the positive application of the Pareto Principle.
Joseph Juran, a quality control specialist at Western Electric, adapted the idea: solving just a few problems could greatly increase quality. By making extensive use of employee surveys, Juran isolated the most impactful shortcomings of his company’s manufacturing process and sought to eliminate them. This methodology was so successful that, later in his career, Juran was instrumental in the association of “Made in Japan” and quality. This is the negative application of the Pareto Principle.
Achieving Ultimate Quality
Consider an Ultimate Frisbee player who doesn’t know what they should be working on to bring their game to the next level.
At the moment, they are training an equal amount of time in the following five categories:
Aerial Ability (vertical), through targeted weightlifting and direct practice
Agility, through plyometrics
Speed, through targeted weightlifting and track workouts
Positional Awareness, by watching film
After a few weeks of data collection (dedication!) asking teammates and coaches for negative feedback, our player is confronted with the following data:
A quick look at this graph shows that spending the same amount of time on track workouts and vertical training is a waste. It also shows that those areas with little negative feedback are likely areas in which our player excels. In game-time situations, it may be best to stick to what you're good at.
It may be tempting to say that filling out weaknesses is a waste of time: sports require specialized skill sets, and you should work on your strengths while delegating your weaknesses. This is the beauty of direct feedback. Your teammates and your coaches are your customers. When giving you feedback, they are already taking into account their expectations for you.
While this (short) article has mostly devolved into a fan-gasm for taking personal statistics on the things you care about, the point is clear. In order to make the biggest impact possible, you need to recruit your community in your endeavor. Just like in Ultimate, it is rare that you have the best perspective. Ask the sideline, and listen.