Sunday, August 13, 2006


“Success with women is a function of personality and guts. You have a good personality. I’d say 9 out of 10. But you have zero guts. Zero times anything is still zero. That puts you right there with some chump who has zero personality and lots of nerve.”- N

Dear Samuel,

Today I want to tell you about one of the coolest success principles that I know of. This rule has given me the mental freedom to accopmlish all sorts of things that I probably would have given up on if I didn't know it. I call it the 80% rule of success. But I didn't think of it. I totally ripped off the 80% rule from someone famous.

I don't know if you've ever heard of Pareto's law - which some people call the 80/20 rule. Pareto's law states that for many phenomena, 80% of the consequences, stem from 20% of the causes. It was named after the Italian economist Vilfreid Pareto who observed that 80% of income in Italy was received by 20% of the Italian population. The assumption is that most of the results in any situation are determined by a small number of causes. This idea is often applied to data such as sales figures: "20% of clients are responsible for 80% of sales volume."

Pareto's law is probably valid, and can be applied to many situations. I'm not actually talking about Pareto's law when I want you to think about the 80% rule.

Here is the 80% rule. I'm going to write it in all caps for emphasis. Oh, and just for the record, this is a Woody Allen quote.


The 80% rule of success is more relevent than you can possibly know as a high school student. But just to give you an example. You know a guy with the initials JSB. When he went to high school back in the day he decided he was going to drop out. He went in to the office and announced that he was dropping out of high school. They pulled him into the principal's office and gave him this offer:

'If you come to school, don't miss more than the maximum number of school days, and sit in your seat in every class, we promise you that you will graduate.' - All JSB had to do for another year was show up! Of course you and I both know that he didn't show up, and he didn't succeed in high school.

But for practically anything else, the 80% rule of success applies.
Want to succeed at _______? Show up and you're 80% of the way toward success!

One career path that I always thought would be awesome, but I never did anything about was becoming an Airline Pilot. I never knew the steps I needed to take to become an airline pilot. I always wondered what you had to do to go from high school (or college) graduation, to get a job as an airline pilot. I obviously went on to a different sort of professional job.

One day I had the opportunity to have a one on one conversation with an airline pilot. "How did you do it? If I could go back in time and do my academic training what would I have to do to become a pilot like you?"

"You could start on a path to becoming an airline pilot right now." He replied. "Just go down to your nearest airport and take a flying class. Then just keep taking classes, and keep flying and pretty soon you'll have your license to become a commercial airline pilot."

All I had to do was show up at the local airport and I was 80% of the way there!

That's an oversimplification of course, but there is more than a particle of truth to it. Name me one thing that you want to do, and 80% of success to actually doing it is showing up somewhere.
Say it every day, whenever you doubt yourself. "Eighty percent of success is showing up." Think about the things you actually do successfully. Marching band - most of success in marching band is showing up to practice! Church - somebody could in actuality be a slime ball, but if they show up to church every week they look like a good church going person. (Not 100% - 80%) I'm here to tell you that 80% of success at whatever university you choose to attend is showing up to class every time. If you get a job at McDonalds, eighty percent of success is showing up.

You're capable of doing pretty much anything. When you have doubts, just remember the 80% rule.

Eighty percent of success is showing up.



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