The 80/20 Rule


Blame it on the perky peas.  Because of the peas a whole new theory was born.  Vilfredo Pareto was a scholarly Italiano, Philosopher in the 1800’s.  He was also known as an Economist, an Engineer and a Sociologist.  The legend says he was working in his own garden and he observed that only 20% of the pea pods produced 80% of the healthy peas.

He didn’t find fame in the garden, but his observation drew his attention to the Italian economy.  He developed a theory of uneven distribution in terms of the wealth and land ownership by noticing that 20% of the people had 80% of the wealth.  He then studied industry and found that 80% of production came from 20% of the workers.

Pareto’s interest in what is known as the law of the vital few, continued to grow.  His theory assumed that most of the results in any situation are determined by a small number of causes.  The principle of factor sparsity eventually became known as Pareto’s Principle.

Pareto’s generalization theory is commonly observed today as a useful way of determining productivity, profits and even sales.  Most of us have heard it said, 20% of the volunteers do 80% of the work, or 20% of the congregants contribute 80% of the donations.  But it gets even more interesting as we begin to look at our personal habits.Pareto principle

The 80/20 Rule also reflects in the way we live.  Think about it…  We wear 20% of our clothes 80% of the time.  We live in 20% of our home 80% of the time.  I use 20% of the books in my home library for 80% of my research.  The more we consider this theory, the more valuable it becomes in our understanding of life.

Dr. Kennedy Schultz, the author of You Are the Power, addressed Pareto’s Principle when he wrote, “Roughly 20% of the population of this world approach life to make something out of it and to bring something to it.  The other 80% approach life needing to get something out of it because they believe they have little to give.”

Dr. Kennedy’s speculation suggests that most people don’t understand that life has already given them everything needed to be successful and happy.  Everyone has opportunity to participate in co-creating a satisfying life, but only about 20% of us seem to be aware of it.  And as a generalization, one might recognize 80% of the population does not seem to be as happy, prosperous nor as healthy as they could be.

So before you jump for joy as you identify yourself in the 20%, let’s consider one more possibility.  What if it’s true that about 20% of the population recognizes that personal power of which Dr. Kennedy spoke?  And further, in that same group, what if we also contend there is a higher awareness and therefore a greater sense of conscious, spiritual accountability?  Let’s advance the Pareto Principle yet another step.  What if these, who we will now refer to as those who demonstrate spiritual maturity, what if these are only awake and aware about 20% of their waking day?  Furthermore, what if we considered that miraculous rather than lacking?

I believe the 80/20 Rule tells me that if I don’t choose, if I don’t consciously participate in the circumstances of my life, I will be like 80% of the population.  And if I don’t choose and I let life bounce me around, if I simply conform to the norm, fit in with the majority of the people and the trends and the attitudes, I won’t be fully using the gifts that God gave me.  We are created to be unique individuals, finger prints and all!

If this is even remotely possible, then I want to be aware of and use my God given talents!  It is a call to be intentional with our joy and effusive with our love and determined to not be a victim to circumstance.

Ernest Holmes, the founder of the Science of Mind teaching, had a 51% rule.  He reminded us that as we choose each day, make conscious choices as to how we show up in the world, we direct our thoughts and our actions intentionally.  And when we do that, we rise above the common, the collective whole, and see life from a higher perspective.  At 51% I’m moving through life at a higher vibration and perspective than more than half the population.


Vilfredo Pareto

This is great incentive for developing an ongoing spiritual practice.  Choosing one’s attitude moment by moment will carry us far.  Yet I also think that our overall awareness of goodness, of health, prosperity, joy, our determination to recognize the presence of something greater than we are, carries a higher energetic vibration than we have realized.  Being grateful for such things keeps us fresh in our resolve.

Being conscious and aware and grateful 20% of the time buoys us higher than 51% because we rise above 80% of the common thought.  Generally speaking, Pareto was a genius.  But you don’t have to be a scholar to interpret the logic of the mathematical laws behind his principle.


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