The Pareto Principle (aka, the 80-20 Rule) is a cause-effect theorem that suggests 80 percent of outcomes/effects are the result of 20 percent of causes. For instance, 80 percent of the income in many businesses can be shown to be generated by only 20 percent of the clients. Another: 80 percent of crimes are committed by 20 percent (or less) of the population. A similar 80-20 distribution between cause and effects has been documented in many natural phenomena.
John Maxwell, a prominent speaker and writer on the topic of leadership, suggests that leaders should aim to spend 80 percent of their time with the 20 percent of the members who are most likely to move an organization toward its goals. I've actually deployed this practice as an organizational leader, with very satisfactory results.
Similarly, numerous holistic physicians assert that our health is premised on 80 percent diet and 20 percent exercise. I have altered my thinking and personal habits accordingly in this area as well, with remarkably positive outcomes. This approach is quite contrary to what I practiced for over 40 years of my adult life, grounded in the belief that enough exercise would assure my health and allow me to eat anything I wanted. I now know I had it completely backwards.
A provocation: What are the health and performance possibilities for each of us, and our families, if we were to fully adopt a holistic wellness approach of eating nothing but healthy, nutrient-dense food, coupled with a moderate but sustained exercise regimen?