"Give Peas a Chance"


“Give Peas A Chance”

Years ago, I listened to a training CD with the aforementioned title of this article. The CD talked about Vilfredo Pareto, a 19th Century economist who noticed that only 20% of the pea plants in his garden produced 80% of the peas harvested. Just like that, the 80/20 rule was born. Pareto went on to much acclaim in the world of economics before his death in 1923. Even though he has been gone for a century, the 80/20 rule is still very much with us. As I begin contemplating my summer garden (I love snacking on freshly grown, raw peas picked from the garden each year) invariably, I think of Vilfredo Pareto. It is a great time to start thinking about what I call my ‘life garden.’

What am I trying to cultivate in my life this year? What parts of me do I want to grow and develop, and which parts do I want to weed out. If we accept that Pareto was far more correct than not and the world seems to subscribe to the 80/20 rule in many instances, then it begs the question, what are my 20% things? What are the things that I am best at, most efficient with, provide the return on my investment? What 20% of things in my life bring me 80% of my happiness and fulfillment? Spring is the perfect time to give this a good think, my friends. So, let’s get our hands dirty, weed out some stuff that doesn’t provide any benefit and start really thinking about our 20%.

Here's my method. Using this only to help you discover your method, I do this every spring. It isn’t very scientific, but I think Pareto would be proud. On a piece of paper, I put a line down the middle. In the left column, I think of all the things that answer these questions: What do I love doing most? What am I truly good at? What actions do I take that help the most people? Who benefits from the above-mentioned answers? On the right side of the page are the things I hate doing, things I am not good at, things that I admit are time wasters, and things that have zero benefit to anyone else. I look at this list for a long time. I tweak it. I look at it again. Then I have a nice think about it and ask myself, how long do I spend on all the things I wrote down? If you are anything like me, the answers will startle you. I found I spent around 85% of my time doing the things on the right-hand side of the column. Yikes! How could that be? Clearly, it is time to conjure my inner-Pareto and get to work.

Fellow tribes’ members, I have a goal this year. My goal is to flip that script. I want to spend 80% of my time doing the 20% that brings me and those around me joy and good things. Impossible? Perhaps. I’ve never been a fan of setting super easily achievable goals. Setting the bar high really gives you something to shoot for. What if I’m only able to double my current time spent focusing on left-hand column stuff? Going from 15 to 30% is still a great improvement and I will certainly be a better person because of it. But I shoot for the stars and hope I land on a cloud. Give this a shot. Have a good think about this, my friends. What are your 20%? Imagine, just imagine how much joy you would have if you were able to increase your time spent there by just a little bit.

Plant a garden (buy local).

Get your hands in the dirt.

Take some nice deep breaths when you are outside doing this and by all means, give peas a chance!

Steve Gwisdalla is a Dexter resident and Owner, Chief Gardener and developer of all things people at BetterPlace Consulting. If you need help growing your peas or finding your 20%, give him a shout at steve@betterplacemgmt.com.

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