80% of the results come from 20% of the causes. A few things are important; most are not.
– Richard Koch
Leverage is really just another word for ‘doing more with less‘. Leverage is the idea of getting an advantage by using a lever to lift or move something that you wouldn’t be able to otherwise. In our use of the word, leverage is about lifting your well-being by using your energies and resources in ways that are more focused and effective.
It is really about leveraging the positive, vital things in our lives and eliminating the negative, trivial things.
The Vital Few
The 80:20 principle is an extremely useful way of thinking about the vital few things that matter the most. The Principle predicts that in many situations a majority of effects are due to a minority of causes. The actual figure varies considerably from case to case, but a ratio of 80:20 is about average and quite common.
In a nutshell the principle predicts that 80% of your well-being is caused by 20% of your actions, relationships, possessions, time and resources. Whilst the exact proportions will differ, in daily life you often find:
- 20% of the people you know will provide 80% of your companionship
- 20% of your time will provide 80% of your overall enjoyment of life
- 20% of your problems will cause 80% of your stress and anxiety
- You wear 20% of your clothes 80% of the time
- You listen to 20% of your music 80% of the time
- You use 20% of your stuff 80% of the time, or to turn it around
- You use 80% of your stuff only 20% of the time!
The questions to ask yourself are:
- What are the vital few things in my life that provide the most well-being?
- How can I focus my energy and attention on those vital things that make me happier and my life a richer experience?
The Trivial Many
When you conserve the time, energy and resources from activities that are not important, you end up having more energy to put into what’s important. Ask yourself:
- How can I reduce the energy I put into activities that do not bring as much value?
- How can I eliminate the trivial things that can have a negatively effect on my experience?