The Law of Priorities shows the connection between LEADERS and ACTION. Leaders understand that activity does not necessarily translate to accomplishment. This law is very challenging to a lot of people, allow me to explain why.
Leaders have a bias for action. We do... You show me a leader, and I'll show you a person who doesn't sit long. When a leader has an idea, they are ready to roll up their sleeves and act. They want to immediately initiate that idea, prioritize, and keep momentum going. They have a natural bias towards action.
Leaders often get excited about activity.
They say things like "Man I tell you what, right now we are burning rubber" and "we are burning candles at both ends. We have done great things, look at what we are accomplishing."
Now let me just stop here, just relax for a moment and ask yourself.......
What are you accomplishing?
That is the question… Not "what are you doing?" or "how busy are you?" Well, what have you accomplished?
My Life was wonderful and radically changed in 2007. I was studying my MBA, and the Professor introduced us to the Pareto Principle, also known as the 80/20 Principle. First take the top 10 most important things that you need to do in your life, and you prioritize them correctly so that #1 is truly #1, #2 is truly #2, #9 is truly #9 and so on.
After you put them in order of importance, prioritize your agenda items by what brings you the greatest return and rewards. The idea of it all is that if you invest 80% of your time into the top 2 items of return, those top 2 items will give you an 80% return of everything that you will ever need in life.
The reverse is also true if you do the bottom eight things you will only get a 20% return.
At that time I was a high energy worker, but I could tell that I didn’t understand and do well prioritizing my life. When something needed to be fixed, they would call me, and I would come and fix it. I was like a fireman waiting for a fire to break out and boy was I out there putting out a ton of fires. I was letting other people’s lives and agendas control my life. I wasn’t in control, I wasn’t prioritizing, and I wasn’t focusing on the highest things that gave the most return.
I began to become a student of this law, in which I have taught the Preto principles hundreds and hundreds of times over. I have expressed and coached on it and let me tell you this is life changing.
It’s not only true about your to-do list but also the people you invest in.
If you took the top 10 people in your class or organization and put them in order of priority according to their return to the organization, the first person was the one giving you the highest return; the second was the second highest and number ten would be the least. If you invest your 80% of your time in those top two people, those top two people will represent 80% of your return.
Now if we are not careful we will begin to spend 80% of our time with the bottom 20%, I see it happen all of the time.
Should we help the bottom 20%? Equip them? Help them? Of course, we should but here is the way it works. You should be working with the top ones, and it should be filtering its way all the way down.
The question isn’t, is the person at the bottom being equipped. The question is, how is that person at the bottom being equipped? Who is spending time with them? As a leader, you have to be very careful on how you prioritize your people, how you prioritize the things you need to get accomplished, and how to make sure you are intentionally and consistently doing the things that are most important.