The Pareto Principle of life

I studied Pareto principle in my early years of college. That time, I did not take it as seriously as much as I did later in my life. The principle published in a paper by an Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto in 1896 was focused on the wealth distribution in Italy. His study gave a thumb rule estimate of 80% of the country land was in the hands of 20% of the population. Similarly this theory extended to business very effectively where the rule of 80-20 is often referred with respect to 80% of business given by 20% of the clients. This principle now can be extended to a wide variety of situations we face every time.


I was more impressed by the simplicity of this principle in our day to day lives as well. For instance, I found that a normal man spends 80% of the productive time in things that are trivial or less important in nature. Similarly, we give just 20% of our focus to most important things that would matter more in our lives. I closely watched several people and realized that a lot of them who struggled in their professional lives and blamed everyone for their plight except themselves actually did very little for their success. They argued, sulked, wasted their time hanging out aimlessly, unable to find anything that would help them grow kept on trying and leaving one job after another. Even at home, they spend more time on TV and less with the family that mattered to them most. They gossiped, spend endless hours in smoking, regularly wasted precious sleep time in late night parties and boozing and even had friends who were similar in nature.

Similarly, successful people have excellent time management principles. As compared to any ordinary person they spend more time on things that matter to them most and less on what matter least. In a way, they spend 80% on what matter to them most and 20% on what that least matter to them. Successful people spend quality time with their families and not a lot of time. They take family vacations and cut themselves off from work for sometime. They plan their free time and ensure that the time is well used. Such people watched less of TV and played less of Online games but spend more time on physical exercise, reading and enjoying games like golf with friends and colleagues. While every successful person appear extremely busy, they still have enough time to network and meet people who matter. Successful people rarely fight and waste time in arguments. They take decisions and avoid confrontations that would prove them expensive. However, in many case I have seen their partners not as mature and issues do coming up. However, that should not be seen as a failure but a way these people see a logical end to their issues. Most of such people are healthy as they find time to exercise and take care of their body and mind.

I had also several instances to watch some young professionals who set out to become successful later.  They have traits that are normally resented by their colleagues. Some are identified as protocol breakers, but are in real life go getters and challenge anything that comes in the way of getting things done. Few are seen as unfriendly, but in reality they like the company of achievers and shun out those who are time wasters. I have seen most of such people moving along with a notebook or even taking notes on their mobiles whenever they are in a meeting or listening to someone they feel important. They also quickly understand the importance of keeping a ‘things to do’ checklist and rarely miss on their deadlines and deliverables. The most interesting part of all such young achievers is that they party and enjoy more than others. It is probably because of their confidence and notes taking habits that they are sure that they will not miss anything.

If you have the problem of spending 80% of the time on things that are not of much importance for your career and success, it is high time, adopt the Pareto principle in your life for better. You can sure be on the path of success that might have eluded you for so long.

Alok Kumar

Alok Kumar is Managing Partner of SRKay Consulting group, a private equity company, nurturing innovative ventures. Alok also serves on the board of ICCL (Indian Clearing Corporation Limited - A subsidiary of BSE- Bombay Stock Exchange) as an external advisor for technology and information security. Prior to this, Alok had been Managing Director of Sears IT & Management Services India Private Limited (SHI) since its inception in December 2009 and served in the same position till very recently. Having been in senior IT management positions in Fortune 500 companies, Alok has won several national and international awards. Alok is instrumental in planning and setting up SHI and thereafter growing it to a multi-locational thousand-plus people organization. Over the last five years, with his strategic vision, Alok helped SHI grow roots in India, develop and support technology applications and infrastructure across core mainframe, cutting edge e-Commerce and big data technologies. With his unique people-oriented transformational leadership style, Alok turned SHI into one of the most valued investments of Sears, garnering great ROIs, and creating value much beyond cost arbitrage. Under his tutelage, SHI has filed two patents and is recognized widely for its best practices in various areas, the latter, currently featured in Indian Institute of Management (IIM) case studies. SHI also became a CMMI Level 3, PCMM Level 3, and ISO 20000 certified organization. Alok is a widely acclaimed corporate leader in India today. He regularly participates and leads various forums as a keynote speaker and is an author of several books in different genres. Alok has several awards to his credit. He is particularly known in the industry for his people management skills and innovative ideas in improving the productivity of employees through unique people practices. He has been credited with the following industry awards: ¬ Emerging Leader of the Year award 2013 by ¬ Game Changer CEO of the Year 2013 (SHRM) ¬ CIO 100 - The Bold CIOs - 2008 (Reliance Infosolutions) ¬ CIO - Ones to Watch Award 2008 (Reliance Industries) ¬ Extended Manager Award - CIOL 2004 (Tata Teleservices) As an able leader of SHI, Alok got SHI recognized widely in the industry with the following several awards: ¬ CII Award for HR Best Practices in 2014 ¬ Global Excellence in Outsourcing Award - AIOP (Phoenix 2013) ¬ IT Innovation Award (Design & Engineering) - Computer Society of India 2012 ¬ Golden Company of the Year - Economic Times 2011-12 ¬ 7th Employer Branding Awards - World HRD Congress (Mumbai, India) 2013: • ‘Asia’s Best Employer’ Award • ‘Best HR Strategy’ in line with business • HR Leadership Award • Talent Management Award by Bloomberg TV India ¬ Employer Branding Awards - World HRD Congress (Singapore, Asia) 2013: • 7th rank in ‘Asia’s Best Employer’ award • Award for ‘Best HR Strategy’ in line with the business • HR Leadership Award Other recognitions: Alok had served on the distinguished panel of NASSCOM's GIC (Global In-house Centers) National Council members. The council members play a key role in major initiatives of the industry and include the torch bearers of IT industry as panel members. Books and Papers: Alok is an established author, with three books to his credit. Alok’s third and latest book, a novel, “The Spy from Unaula” is a 2015 publication. A handwriting analysis enthusiast, Alok collaborated with his wife Nandani on the book, “Handwriting Speaks” in 2006. “Value Sourcing – Future of IT Outsourcing” was co-authored with Keith Sherwell (currently CIO, Altice USA) and was released in 2013. Alok also researched and published two whitepapers: a. “Creating next generation captives” talks about the best practices that are helping generate higher value from the IT company captives.

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2 Responses

  1. Quite interesting article. Gives a different angle to the universal principles of success.

  2. Amitabh says:

    That’s what i am looking for, so many years i am thinking of what is that i am doing wrong and why i am not moving ahead, seems like this is one of it. Will like to listen more on its implementation part but seems it will come by making a habit , changing perception on how and when to do and what to do. Thanks

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