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The 80/20 Rule: Are You Exceptional or just Mediocre?

The Pareto Principle (80/20 Rule):

The Pareto Principle, also referred to as the 80/20 Principle, relates to virtually all areas of life and tends to be a reliable explanation for the distribution of resources and success. It explains how 80% of your results come from 20% of your efforts.


·         80% of your progress comes from 20% of your tasks.

·         80% of your problems come from 20% of your decisions.

·         80% of your profits come from 20% of your customers.

·         20% of the people do 80% of the work.

·         20% of the clothes in your closet are worn 80% of the time.

·         20% of the roads have 80% of the traffic.

The original discovery came from a mathematical observation by a man named Pareto that 80% of England’s income was generated by 20% of the population. Since then, many people have made their own applications of this principle in most every area of life to understand and explain the natural curve that is generated by the vast variety of people. It explains how their disposition and approach to life lead to predictable outcomes.

The Pareto Principle in Recruiting:

It says, as it relates to the modern job market, that 80% of the top applicants will choose to work for the top 20% of leaders. We all want to work for a leader with similar values. If we want to be great leaders and make the most of all our opportunities, we will search for the best leaders that provide a great culture and opportunities to work for. If we are lazy and just want to do as little as is required to trade time for money, we will look for leaders that require the least from us. If we want to take advantage of people, we will look for fools and weak leaders to manipulate. We will always get what we seek to attract.

All leaders are fighting over the most qualified applicants, but only the exceptional leaders (top 20%) really have a realistic chance of attracting them. The best leaders, just like the best colleges, the best companies, and the most beautiful people, will have the pick of the litter relatively speaking. This means that if you are not one of the strongest leaders, you will be left competing for the bottom 20% of the applicant pool. The leftovers will be your market, and the unemployable will consume your interviews. A scarcity mentality will begin to consume you, and you will feel like you have no control over your staffing efforts. This could not be further from the truth.

When we determine who we are, we determine who we get. Those who settle for who they are, must settle for who they get. That is the difference between the exceptional and the mediocre leader.

"Its not that people don't want to work, It could be that they don't want to work for a mediocre leader".

Joel Smith

Business Coach, Author and Entrepreneur

This article is a section out of the book Team Design: Building Great Teams By Attracting the Right People. Download the Free PDF version.

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