Advicegrowing up

Why life’s not fair

posted by Peter August 1, 2016 0 comments

One of the truisms of life, something you’ll see playing out in business, statistics, people and nature’s relationships, is the 80:20 rule.

A lot is caused by not too many

The numbers may vary, but it means a lot is caused by not too many.

The 80:20 rule is also named the ‘Pareto Principle’ (after the Italian economist who in 1906 observed that 80% of the land was owned by 20% of the people, and, in his own garden, that 20% of pea pods provided 80% of the peas).

Another name for it is the ‘law of the vital few’, or even the ‘principle of factor sparsity’ (to get really clever).

In car accidents for example, 20% of people cause 80% of the crashes (yep, it is one reason certain people always have various bits of damage on their cars).

It means 80% of the world’s resources are owned by 20% of the people (actually the real figure is more like 90% owned by 10%).

It also probably means that 20% of these blog post will receive 80% of the total readership.

The point is, most things in life aren’t distributed evenly. Be it effort, work, or rewards, some contribute and gain more than others. Cause and effect aren’t equal.

So keep this in mind, because it repeats itself across so many spheres of life that you forget it at your peril.

It is part of the reasoning behind some people saying that life isn’t fair. As such, that is correct, but once you know the numbers, and how they play out…well that’s just the way it is.

There’s plenty of Google search wise advice on applying Pareto’s Principle. Here are a couple, a Businessballs article, or this one at Better Explained.

Simply remember, across virtually everything, the cause of something, and its effect are not distributed evenly.

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