No one respects a talent that is concealed. – Desiderius Erasmus
I was browsing through a list of books and picked up The 80/20 Individual: How to Build on the 20% of What You Do Best by Richard Koch.
The whole 80/20 thing seems done to death – you will probably be aware of the Pareto principle and that 80% of the output from almost every activity comes from 20% of the input.
A few things matter more than most.
On the whole, the elements of how Koch applies the rule seem predictable.
Do more of the stuff you’re good at would seem to be the main message.
But I suppose, like any superficially simple message, there are things to consider.
Let’s say you’re starting something now – a new business, a new service, a new product – how might you apply this principle?
Let’s take starting a YouTube channel as an example – something that I have no experience in.
One way to do it might be to create a beautifully scripted, filmed and edited piece of content – something that you are really proud of.
Something like that can easily take 4-8 hours of work for a 10-15 minute segment – the kind of ratio that’s normal in good quality video production.
It’s probably not the filming or the script writing that takes the time – it’s the editing.
On the other hand, what would it look like if it were easy?
Well, you’d probably have the biggest impact if you cut the editing time down as much as possible.
How would you do that?
Probably by doing things in such a way that you didn’t have to do all that editing.
The “not doing” element is something we miss in the application of this principle.
Let’s assume that 20% of the stuff is what you actually have to do.
That’s the scripting and filming – maybe you can make that tighter – but it’s the knowledge you have that creates the value in the script and it’s the filming that collects the raw content for your product.
Now, of the remaining 80%, does it follow that 20% is value adding and the rest not?
Is it the case that 80% of that remaining 80% is not worth doing?
Should your next step, after deciding what you are going to do, to be to figure out the nearly 2/3rds of work that you have to actively choose not to do?
This is really quite hard – because you will probably feel like you’re not doing your best.
Now, I’m no expert at video – but I do know that the prospect of spending hours of work to create a product is not an option – I don’t have hours to spare.
So I need a way to get what I want to do done using the skills I do have – skills at programming and automation.
But if there’s stuff that I can’t do which still has to be done – then I need to outsource that bit.
If I’ve broken my tasks down in the right way – that bit should only be 20% of the 80% – 16% where I have to persuade someone else to do the work for me.
What’s interesting is that the outsourcing and the doing aren’t the things that make the difference.
Together, they account for only 36% of what’s going on.
What makes the biggest impact on your result is what you don’t do.
The not-todo list rather than the todo list.
So maybe here’s the thing.
If you want to be the best version of you – the thing you have to figure out is absolutely, definitely, what you are not going to do any more.