It’s hard to argue with the fact that you get what you focus on. It’s not only conventional wisdom, but it’s been proven time and time again. Most everyone has heard of the Pareto Principle … known to most as the 80/20 Rule. Let’s add another formula to your repertoire. It’s the 95/5
The most productive people will focus on their challenges, limitations, barriers, and problems only 5% of the time. And when they do so, that time is focused on overcoming these negative restraints. They invest 95% of their time and energy on identifying and creating resources to pursue responses and solutions to removing those restraints.
Ross Perot (computer billionaire, philanthropist, and independent Reform Party candidate for U.S. president in 1992 and 1996) was a man who lived by this principle, practiced it in every aspect of his life, and taught those he mentored to do the same. In the book, Irreconcilable Differences: Ross Perot Versus General Motors, we learn that he was the founder of Electronic Data Systems (EDS) in Dallas, Texas. Perot was refused 77 times before he got his first contract. The company ultimately became a multibillion dollar corporation employing more than 70,000 people.
Perot sold EDS in 1984 to General Motors for $2.5 billion. He retained ownership in the company, which made him GM’s largest individual stockholder and a member of the board of directors. Perot applied his 95/5 focus at GM, butting heads with GM head Roger Smith almost daily.
The all-talk, no-action philosophy of GM at that time in history looked much like the reverse of the 95/5 Principle. Perot simply couldn’t tolerate such ignorance. He was best known for this observation of the GM culture:
“When someone sees a snake at EDS, we kill it! When someone sees a snake at GM, the first thing they do is form a committee on snakes. Then they bring in a team of outside consultants on snakes. They write a strategic plan for getting rid of snakes. Then six layers of managers delegate someone to kill the snake.”
Perot knew that if you don’t kill the snake when it’s small, you might be dealing with a monster later.
Perot was so insistent on this strategy that he became a thorn in GM’s side. In 1986, GM bought out Perot’s stock for $700 million! Two years later, he started a new computer service company, Perot Systems, which operates in the United States and Europe. Historians claim GM would be much better off today had they heeded the suggestions of Perot at that time rather than buying him out.
To be successful, focus much less (5%) on the challenges, limitations, barriers, and problems and much more (95%) identifying and creating resources to pursue responses and solutions to removing those restraints. You’ll find the results phenomenal!