There’s a well-known rule in the business world and in economics called the Pareto Principle—the 80/20 rule. It means that 80% of your results come from 20% of your effort.
This is something that is hard to integrate into our daily lives. It is easy to believe that all of our marginal decisions and extra efforts are making a difference.
But this is a lie.
Too Close To Call
In fact, there are only a few things that we do in any arena of life that are getting us results.
We stress and strain over minor decisions and actions that don’t matter much. We spend time trying to figure out whether this or that is the best. It’s so close–too close to call. What if you make the wrong decision?
It won’t be the wrong decision.
Most of the time, it will be an inconsequential decision.
Get clear, in each part of your life, on the 20% of things that you are getting the most of your results from. Think about this in terms of your relationships, as well as your work life. Think of it in terms of your exercise. Think of it in terms of you diet. Think of it in terms of your routines.
With our children, there is an effective strategy to employ that will get us big results.
It will matter much more than which gift you get them, how many mortgages you pay, or the time spent lounging together.
Family Board Meeting
That is the family board meeting strategy. It’s a concept in the book of the same name by Jim Sheils.
Here’s the main idea:
In the business world, there are board meetings that are conducted quarterly—once every three months. Everyone connects with each other, often face to face, to see where all lines are leading and to make sure they’re going in the same direction.
Have a board meeting with each member of your family, every three months.
Here are a few guidelines:
1) One-on-one: Every three months. This is possible, no matter the size of your family. Being paid attention to, without any distractions, creates a different kind of bond—one that allows each person to feel seen.
2) No technology: No distracting people, no distracting things. Playing video games and watching TV together may have its place, but this is about paying attention to each other.
That is impossible if mom, dad, daughter, or son are checking their phone every few minutes.
3) Four-Hours: Once a quarter, for each family member.
As the author of this book often reminds people, you only have eighteen summers with your children.
When we get together, we need to decompress before we can do things shoulder-to-shoulder in a truly connected way.
4) Freedom: Try to give as much freedom as possible to your children in deciding what to do. There are limits to what is possible, but take their preferences into heavy consideration.
Eighteen summers. Then they’re adults, and they can decide how much they want to see you.
How are you going to use that time?
What sorts of things do you think will build a loving, trusting relationship that keeps them interested and engaged with you now, and long into the future? Are you doing those things? Or are you hoping that all the tiny things that you do, the unseen things, the lower 80% things, will add up to the big results you’re hoping for?
Having routines and rhythms in our lives is one of the best things that we can do for ourselves. It allows us to be more mindful. It allows us to schedule our priorities, rather than bumble through and hope we get to them.
Keeping the Pareto principle in mind will help you be a productive, focused person, rather than a busy one. It will allow you to stop worrying if you make the right, tiny decisions, because you’re making big, intentional ones with results.