The 80/20 Rule

October 14th, 2008 by admin

Here’s an interesting challenge: find actions, thoughts and feelings today where you can apply the 80/20 rule. My favorite way of applying this right now is to be less critical. Here’s how that works for me. When I have a negative thought, I stop and apply the 80/20 rule.

It goes like this, the thought “That person is a terrible driver” gets noticed and replaced by, “80 per cent of drivers are considerate and careful.”

Or how about this, the thought “It breaks my heart to see the damage we’re doing by polluting the water and land” gets noticed and replace by, “If I stop to think about it, at least 80 percent of the people I know are deeply involved in peace-making, ceremonies for healing, and other good things for the world and the environment.”

Here’s one for my friends who’re looking for that special someone and feel like it’s never going to happen. If you feel that thought starting… “I’ll never meet anyone nice, settle down and have a family” notice it and replace it with something like this, “Most of my favorite friends who have a spouse or a partner are pretty darn ordinary people and since they met someone special, there’s a better than 80 per cent chance that I will too.”¬† And while you’re waiting for Mr. or Ms. Right to come along, instead of, “I feel a bit lonely, I have nobody to do things with,” try this, “Today, starting right now, I’m going to spend 80 per cent of my time doing things that are meaningful to me and important for the world and then when I do meet Mr. or Ms. Right there’s a good chance I’ll meet someone who is kind and thoughtful.”

How about it? I hope you’ll enjoy giving this a try and I hope you find it helpful. It’s a naive plan but sometimes the simplest things are the most powerful. I want to remap my own negative thinking and stay awake to the blessings in life. Nobody can do that for me, it’s my responsibility and I also get the benefits of increased peace and healing of body, mind and spirit and a sense of increasing the flow of harmony in the world.



More about that…

From Wikipedia

The Pareto principle (also known as the 80-20 rule, the law of the vital few and the principle of factor sparsity) states that, for many events, 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. Business management thinker Joseph M. Juran suggested the principle and named it after Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto.

Fiercely naive

September 14th, 2008 by admin

At fifty-five it feels arrogant to talk about how we can create meaning in life because I’m not a scholar and at age 55 I feel too young to spout wit and wisdom. I think by age 70 a person might have earned that right. Having admitted I’m on shaky ground now some thoughts about creating meaning. The Creator gave us everything we need to live and gave us the plants and animals as teachers. Anytime you have a question, take it to nature and you’ll be given an answer. All the animals and plants remember their Original Instructions; only humankind who doesn’t remember theirs. Many people are trying to remember the instructions to live by, to “find meaning.” From listening to others who’re much smarter than me and following my own train of thought, I’ve concluded we don’t “find” meaning in the sense of “finding the meaning of life” but rather we create meaning after making a deliberate and conscious decision to do so. You might call this “living with intent” or “intentional living” or becoming a “meaning-maker.” This isn’t necessarily easily done or uncomplicated but I think making the decision is what opens the door to a life lived authentically, deeply and with meaning.

From my lofty 55-year old perch it seems that if we intend to create meaning that has staying power and quality, we have to consider the welfare and care of others and, most especially, whether our actions bring harm or loss to others. Efforts devoted to personal aims and ego will most likely eventually feel lonely and shallow. It’s a dicey business to decide to become a meaning-maker, it’s not a popular choice these days (more about that later) but the alternative may incur a heavy burden of regret later in life. And some folks point out it may be later than we think! The decision to live as a meaning-maker, choosing to lead a meaningful life, is the sign of a truly mature human being – the mark of a true Elder – a leader, an example to others, a role model for our children and someone whose behavior we’d be proud to see them emulate.

I tend to vacillate between pessimism and optimism so bear that in mind when I say this: choosing to live as a meaning-maker so that your decisions and behavior matter, requires enormous courage these days because it seems to be out of favor. Acting as if our daily actions and behaviors actually matter isn’t a popular notion in the dominant cultures of the world. The people and the predominant media have chosen reality television and soap opera fantasies above authentic news and views, real life and real people. This is the decision of the people; the media follow the people, not the other way around. Personal responsibility means owning up to that. If you don’t like violence as entertainment turn your television off and don’t pay or play those movies, shows, games and magazines. Conversations about thoughtful and serious topics might be unfashionable and unpopular at some parties and dinners – but they’re very popular at others – you just have to find your kindred spirits and hang with them! But stick with it! Somewhere a long the line are companions who want to share ideas and laughter about authentic topics and non-violent real life. There’s a world full of good folks who really do try to live by and practice the principles of goodness, compassion, honesty and dignity.¬†Laughter is good medicine too!

If we try as best we can to uphold the meaningful principles of justice and ethics whether from a personal path or a spiritual or religious path, we may yet become a world of healthy, worthy elders – and our children and youth will have a new chance to heal from the depression, confusion and suicidal choices that haunt them. We, the adults, can talk to about integrity, honor and compassion. And we can choose to admit that we need deep and profound healing. We crave that healing and we search for it everywhere outside ourselves. Like desperate children we cast around for anything to soothe us. Electronics have taken the place of an embrace or a handshake.

Where does our courage fail us? Where does my courage fail me? I’m taking my inventory, trying to find the truth about my love and my fears. I invite you to do the same. There is much that we can do together, taking one day at a time. With one small change at a time we change the world. To look at life as though we are responsible is at best inconvenient and at worst frightening or even terrifying but as adults that’s our job. We are responsible. If we can open ourselves up to profound healing and humbly look for ways to help others, the way forward will open one step at a time.

The adventure can be to find something we truly care about in our community – and get involved. Not a long commitment – or a big one – but willingness to try different things until you find a good fit. You get to choose what that is. We can create change for a better world and it matters that we try. Our efforts matters. No-one can do what you and I can do. Our efforts are unique. You matter. Your work matters.



Gone painting!

August 31st, 2008 by admin

I’m taking a break from blogging to focus on painting. Thank you for visiting and I hope you’ll return in future.

Peace and balance,


Meaning-maker, you’re not as odd as you feel.

August 17th, 2008 by admin

In my opinion meaning-making has been given a bad name and gets a lot of bad press. We love the “good guys” in movies but tend to hold that behavior as naive and dreamy in real life. We have no shortage of real-life cultural heroines and heroes in our own families, amongst our friends and colleagues. And beyond that people like: bev hooks, Kofi Annan, Winona LaDuke, Arvol Looking Horse, Mathatma Ghandi, Nelson Mandela…and many, many others.

But what about the regular gal or guy who thinks about their life? The regular Josephine or Joe who asks, “Why” or “Why not?” and isn’t satisfied by the answer, “Because that’s the way things are.” She or he believes in the value and importance of deciding what one’s life is about, and deciding to promote values and ethics that make the world a more just and humane place. I feel the same way. The affect one person has in a family, a school or a community is as important as the impact of the leader of a nation. We are all world leaders, we all lead a nation.

There is nothing in the world we can’t make improve on if we work together. You matter. Your contribution mattes. Your contribution is unique and powerful. Did you think you were here for no reason at all? For a moment let’s play “what if.” What if …meaning-making became as popular as make-up, soccer, football or Hollywood. What would that look like? What if …the money spent happily on stadiums and water for golf courses was spent to pay for children and youth to go to meaning-making summer camp. What would that look like? What if …we always listened to elders, veterans and children. What would that look like? What if… we passed laws that every law-maker had to defend how a law would affect the children seven generations into the future. What would that look like? What if …describe your own visionary questions. There’s nothing wrong at all with soccer or make-up or Hollywood; the problem is that we choose not to give equal value or energy to other important issues and activities. But I think we must find the love, courage and audacity to think about complex issues confronting our children in the future. You can name those issues without me doing that here.

I believe most folks are afraid of the complexity of our own majesty as human beings. I know that I am, it’s a fearsome responsibility and one we’d mostly prefer not to think about. My most recent touchstone for courage was, by happenstance, finding The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation ( When you have a moment read about this inspiring and extraordinary foundation and, more importantly, the people they find around the world who “exercise their own creative instincts for the benefit of human society.” There are others organizations like it, this is just one.

Another touchstone for meaning-making is Reconciliation Australia. This program for racial and cultural reconciliation is more than a decade old and still going strong. It’s a model for any country. A whole nation committed itself and its citizens to reconciliation, apology and restoration to begin to atone for the atrocities committed as a conquering nation imposed itself on native people, decimating their family and community structure, their freedom, their self-determination. Reconciliation Australia seeks to built a partnership for the future generations beyond color, ethnicity and genocide. Howa! ( No, it’s not perfect but it sure is a staggering goal, isn’t it?Building relationships for change between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.Nothing mousey about that goal! And just as audacious is the title of the Reconcile website: “Reconcile – It’s all our story – Sorry.” This is an attempt at nation humility. Is everyone agreed? No. Is everybody happy about Reconciliation Australia? No. Is it perfect? No. Is making a nationwide attempt at peace, restitution and reconciliation a worthy goal and powerful modeling for youth? A thousand times yes.

When I was last in Australia a few years back I learned about Reconciliation Australia because every bus stop and billboard had a poster asking each citizen of Australia to write, call or email their feelings about the shared history of their nation as Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, its present and its future. There have been specific outcomes, for examples, just one is Reconciliation Australia’s dedication to closing the unacceptable 17-year life expectancy gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous children.

The deep meaning in both examples, The MacArthur Foundation and Reconciliation Australia, is to be reminded that we are surrounded by people who are dreaming audacious dreams for the good of humankind and for the good of civilization.

So, dream big. Be good. Set an example. Speak up. Help out. Be naive. Don’t be dissuaded by nay-sayers and the already heart-broken who cannot support your dreams.

Well, until next time, keep your dreams alive and know that you are here for a reason. Whatever you are here to do nobody else can do. We are each unique and sacred.

Peace and balance!