Here are three numbers that are making a big impact in my life and business right now.
In Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell argues that 10,000 hours of “deliberate practice” is needed to become world-class in any field. Whether it was the Beatles playing 8-hour sets in Hamburg or Bill Gates programming on computers as a teenager, the greats were great, not just because of talent, because they worked hard.
Sure, you can oversimplify this rule. It doesn’t apply to sports and you can practice the wrong way, but the idea here is powerful.
Talent and skill are important, but so is putting in the hard work. The Beatles were born talented, but they also put in a lot of time and paid their dues. If you’re going to get good at anything, it’s going to require a ton of practice.
In life and in business, I’m convinced we give up too fast. A culture that values fast has led us to believe we can succeed in a short amount of time. So when things don’t go our way, we move on to something else.
But it’s usually those who stick it out, who commit to learn and grow through tough times, that make it.
If it’s really important, stay focused and put in your 10,000 hours.
In 1896, an Italian economist named Wilfredo Pareto noted that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population.
And the 80/20 Rule, also called the Pareto principle, was born. It says 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.
Here’s what this looks like in real life:
- 80% of the world’s wealth is controlled by 20% of it’s population
- 80% of a sales come from 20% of your products.
- 80% of the work is done by 20% of your team.
- You really only wear 20% of your wardrobe.
- You eat the same foods 80% of the time.
- When hanging out, you spend 80% of your time with 20% of your friends.
- 80% of your stress in life comes from 20% of your activities.
- 20% of what you pack in your suitcase is essential for your travels.
The 80/20 Principle is really powerful and if you understand it, it can lead you to be more effective, successful or happy. If you understand the 20% of your efforts that are leading to 80% of your results, you can intentionally put more of your efforts there. Rather than spending most of your time on ineffective things, you can focus on the efforts that lead to the results.
- You can get rid of 80% of your stuff and not experience a significant change in your lifestyle or happiness.
- You can focus your time on the 20% of people in your life who bring you the most relational energy.
- You can orient your business or your job around those tasks that produce the most results.
I want to 80/20 my life in a few areas and I bet you do too. If you want to learn more about the 80/20 rule specifically applied to business growth, read Perry Marshalls book.
Not long ago, I read a book titled The One Thing by Gary Keller. He writes about the power of focusing energy and efforts on the one thing that matters most.
Since all things are not equal, success comes from identifying the one thing that has the most potential and focusing an unfair amount of time and energy there.
“Your work life is divided into two distinct areas – what matters most and everything else. You will have to take what matters to the extremes and be okay with what happens to the rest. Professional success requires it.,” he writes.
One is a powerful number and it’s something I try to think through on a regular basis.
- What’s the one thing I need to do today no matter what?
- What’s the on big task I want to accomplish this week?
- What’s the one goal I want to accomplish this month or this quarter?
In our business, we have one number driving all our activities for this quarter. Sure, there are some other things we would like to accomplish but they don’t matter nearly as much as the one thing.
In my role in our business, I have one key goal and desired outcome this quarter. Even if I accomplish some other things, it won’t be good if I miss the mark on this one key priority.
The number one can bring you a lot of focus and clarity. What’s the most important thing right now in your business or organization? You can’t have three or four priorities – you can only have one. Identify it and orient everything around it. Say no to other things and don’t feel guilty about it.