Applying the 80/20 Rule to Ourselves

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Originally known as Pereto`s law, the 80/20 rule has been applied in any number of ways and varieties. Simply put, the 80/20 rule posits: “80 percent of results come from 20 percent of efforts.”  I worked for a boss who always directed that we get things 80% right and then move forward, because waiting for perfection only causes inaction and stagnation – he was right!

Character Flaw

What got me thinking this week was how we can so easily fall into the trap of striving for perfection – of understanding the basis of the 80/20 rule when it comes to business and/or projects, but we miss the mark when it comes to evaluating ourselves. How often have I seen people who strive to be perfect, to correct that character flaw, or to be like someone else?  Social media has contributed a great deal to this perfectionist ritual by putting in front of us, on a continual basis, well manicured profiles and success lists from colleagues, strangers or others we admire. The trips to exotic beaches, the new highly paying promotion or the professional accolades, all conspire to make us ask what’s wrong with us.applying the 80/20 rule

So let’s take a sober second look, because the truth is, more often than not, our list of personality flaws become our strengths if we evaluate carefully. A few months ago, Kate Hamill wrote insightfully on coming to terms with our flaws, and suggested that in many cases, what we see as personal weaknesses that require correcting, have rooted connections in equally positive attributes.

Personal Passion

A number of years ago, my employer at the time, instituted a mentoring program. It was mandatory for current executives to participate and be available to mentor a junior employee. I was paired with an ambitious smart young man. As we got to know each other, he opened up about having a struggle with anger, and how he felt that he needed to adopt a calm cool demeanor in order to reach the potential he had imagined for himself. I can relate to Kate Hamill`s article, because it was readily apparent to me that this young man was really passionate about what he was doing and the difference he thought he could make. What was often perceived as anger was really passion, and rather than adopt a new persona, he needed to harness and accept who he was, and direct it in a more positive direction.

How many of us are perfect – how realistic is it that we should strive for perfection? Not me. At the end of the day let’s adopt the 80/20 rule when it comes to ourselves, and understand there is a great deal to like about ourselves, and that we can use to be the successful leaders we all aspire to be!

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After 20 years of progressive leadership within the Canadian Public Service, as an executive and thought leader, Bruce has turned his attention to full time writing, speaking, training and business advisory services. Focusing his work on his long term passion for leadership development, has led to an ongoing focus on exploring current leadership topics through his leadership blog TheModernLeader.ca, and his newly released book - Leadership Hack: Leading the Millennial Tribe. Bruce holds two masters degrees, along with a professional designation in project management. Bruce calls Ottawa, Ontario Canada home, where he shares his life with his wife Susan, and his two university aged daughters.

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