Pareto Basics Applied
Perhaps you have heard of the Pareto Principle, otherwise known as the 80/20 rule or the law of the vital few. This theory states that 80% of the effects in our lives come from 20% of the causes. The theory was developed by the economist Vilfredo Pareto as a way of describing the observation that 80% of Italy’s wealth belonged to only 20% of the country’s population. While its core application is in business and economics, I have found this observation to be very pervasive and perceptive in observing life in general.
Economists and others have concluded that two key deductions from the Pareto Principle are that most things in life are not distributed evenly toward a good or bad result. Some things contribute more than others. The second deduction, stemming from the first, then, is that life is not always fair. In a so-called perfect world, everything would contribute equally to whatever effects were caused, making figuring things out a lot simpler. Five workers would each supply 1/5 of the work resulting in a job well done. Each would be rewarded equally given his or her equal contribution, which means that there would be no need to weigh relative contributions and harms of things we did or decided.
As we all know, however, life is not fair, nor easy, to calculate and predict. It is likely true that 80% of our sins come from only 20% of our lives. Most of us may likely keep repeating the same mistakes, slipping up in the same spots of our lives, over and over. This is why we are not as bad as we think we are. If we commit 20 sins in a week, the odds are that 16 of them, or 80%, come from the same old patterns of thinking and acting.
Likewise, it is likely that 80% of our concerns and worries come from 20% of our issues. Most of us tend to worry about the same situations and problems over and over. Again, we are not as hopeless as we lead ourselves to believe.
Lastly, 80% of the good we do may likely be coming from only 20% of our time. Thus, we are not as good as we think we are either. There is always much more room for improvement !
Armed with the realization that life is not meant to be fair, that things are not synchronized and predictable, that we are neither as bad nor as hopeless nor as complete as we fancy ourselves to be, we can finally be free to trust God, love others, and truly become the tools for good He wants us to be.
2016 Gabriel Garnica