If you’re like me, you probably want to know that you’re always working on the things that will do the most to your life’s (or your employer’s) goals. And, you’re probably familiar with what I’ll call “The 80/20 Principle” as discovered by Vilfredo Pareto. But there are times when the 80/20 principle doesn’t apply.

In fact, there’s at least one area of your where trying to apply the 80/20 principle could already be costing you success. Or, even if you’re successful now, it could cost you everything you’ve worked so hard for. But before we get to that, let’s take a quick look at the 80/20 principle.

The 80/20 Principle

80% of the wealth is held by 20% of the people.
80% of the outcomes are from 20% of the inputs.
80% of your problems are from 20% of the causes.

The 80/20 principle is about uneven distribution, uneven effort, and scarcity and history seems to tell us it applies in areas of resource, influence, effectiveness, or contribution (to name a few). In fact, across nearly any population or community, you’ll likely find that 80% of the outcomes come from to 20% of the inputs.

But, like I said, there are times when you can’t use the 80/20 principle and to get you there and one of those is the area of trust.

One Area Where it Doesn’t Work

Just the other day I came across this great article calling out the cost of the US Transportation & Safety Administration (TSA) and while it called out the amazing cost we pay for a level of security when we fly, there is also a tremendous financial, personal, and collective risk if we didn’t pay the cost.

That’s a cost we’re paying for trust. Or, rather, a cost we’re paying because our trust has been violated. It’s a high cost that aligns with the premise of Stephen Covey’s The Speed of Trust (Amazon link), which points out what we lose when we don’t or can’t trust and what we gain when we can.

It’s Business

For just a minute, think of all the extra work that our companies put into verifying invoices. In having auditors come after us to check our books. In contract negotiations, disputes, and legal maneuvering. These are all costs we incur because we can’t trust – at least not completely.

But, let’s get more personal than that.

It’s Personal

On a personal level, trust is based on integrity. It’s based on us keeping our collective word to each other. It’s about doing and being what we said we would do and be. And there’s no way to apply a Pareto chart to that. We’re either trustworthy or we aren’t.

Think about the personal ramifications of distrust. They’re a lot uglier than the ones we find in corporations. Instead of auditors we have private investigators. Instead of contract negotiations we have divorces and broken families. Instead of verifying invoices we have stalled careers and failed business ventures.

Think of how much more we could do and how much better the world would be if we could trust each other to behave with integrity. To value the lives and resources of others. To take care of each other. To show love (real love) to each other, even when we disagree.

How about you?

So, here are the questions:

  • Have you been 80/20 trustworthy?
  • Have you been 100% trustworthy?
  • What can you do to be (and communicate that you are) trustworthy?
Graphic credit: birgerking
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