By Nandini Sarkar
Using the Pareto principle, Nandini Sarkar illustrates how to resolve sticky situations in life by identifying and resolving the root causes
Recently, I made a new friend. She is spirited and compassionate. She also has another attribute. Problems. Recurring, nagging, won’t-go-away kind of problems. Her Whatsapp DP says: O God…no more problems…please! I found myself thinking about her issues, trying to figure out what I would do in her place. The Bard famously said, “All the world’s a stage, and the men and women only actors”, so in any difficulty, I tell myself that it’s only a game and I need to figure out the right strategy. Why take situations too seriously or allow emotions to run riot when at the end of it all, it’s only a game (the journey home), and the only challenge is to figure out the best plan? Your life changes with this discovery and becomes the joy it was actually meant to be.
Management gurus are the modern-day generals and masters of strategy. One of the vital strategic tools they use is called the Pareto Principle. It is also called the 80: 20 solution. Pareto, an eminent sociologist and economist, proved that when faced with multiple challenges, 80 per cent of the problems can actually be solved by focusing on only 20 per cent of the root causes. Hence, his theory leads us to focus on ‘the vital few’ causes rather than ‘the trivial many’ issues. The value of the Pareto Principle is that it reminds us to concentrate on the 20 per cent of things that actually matter. Of all the things we do to resolve a crisis, only 20 per cent are really important, Pareto argues. Those 20 per cent produce 80 per cent of our results. So, we need to identify and focus on those 20 per cent things first. Thus, the Pareto Principle challenges us look at problems in a creative way rather than allow our will to become paralysed because the problems seem too big. Says Yubraj Trigunait, an audit manager who effectively uses the Pareto Principle: “I have gone through so many, many problems, that now I don’t remember any of them! Mountains of problems stop appearing insurmountable, when you have the right gear, like Pareto, to climb them!” he says triumphantly.
This is how you work on the Pareto Principle:
I decided to follow the Pareto Principle and made a list of the problems that my friend had spoken about. I wanted to discover the 20 per cent of causes that could solve 80 per cent of her problems and where efforts should be focussed to achieve the greatest improvement.
From the above table, it was clear that the top causes of her problems were relationship anxiety and her sweetheart’s errant behaviour:
My friend and her parents had hoped for a 2015 wedding but the groom’s wayward behaviour had caused a roadblock. He was keeping bad company and had developed bad habits. He was repeatedly promising to change but was going back to his drunken and violent ways. Then she lodged the FIR with the police and things reached a point of no return between the two families. The other problem was that, instead of giving her time to heal her wounds and move on, her parents started fretting that perhaps she would never get married after this break-up. After all, she was 34, they said. Their incessant nagging and the pain of seeing a long-term relationship crumble were making her deeply stressful. Unable to release the stress, she started experiencing frequent stomach cramps and acidity, breathlessness, suffocation and absent-mindedness, leading to frequent accidents. Now that the root cause had been found, it was time to act, as per Pareto’s plan. My friend agreed and listened with interest and openness, when I told her about this.
It is a well-established fact that when problems come, they bring a three-point agenda:
My friend felt in her case it was time for a spiritual transition. However, the spiritual path requires patience and consistency. There is no instant nirvana, just as there are no free lunches. That is why Lahiri Mahasaya’s famous advice: banat, banat ban jaaye, (make consistent effort, then one day, behold! the goal is reached) holds so much value for me. My friend’s problems were making her mentally restless. Desperate for a quick solution, she started jumping from one motivational teacher to another without being focussed on any one path. One month she was doing sudarshan kriya, then theta healing, then mantra japa, then reiki, then crystal healing, and on and on it went without giving her any peace and solution whatsoever. She and her mother were also visiting multiple astrologers, who were making dire predictions, making her feel worse. Though she was ready to work on a spiritual solution to her problems, she was becoming a spiritual voyeur, without realising it. If she had followed Pareto’s advice of staying focussed, here is what she could have done instead:
Gracefully bury the dead relationship that was causing stress, health issues and accidents and act wisely, to create an improved future. There is no better tonic than a mix of wisdom and patience, to reverse a bad situation.
Here is the meaning with which I chant the Gayatri. You can also download the mantra on your mobile from YouTube and chant along with it. Don’t lose the meaning of the mantra because knowing the meaning adds tremendous power to your intention.
Surrender your worries to the fire
AUM bhUH, AUM bhuvaH, AUM svaH, AUM mahaH
AUM janaH, AUM tapaH, AUM satyam
AUM tatsaviturvarenyM bhargo devasya dhImahi
dhIyo yo nH prachodayAt.h.
AUM Apo jyotiH rasomRRitaM
brahma bhUR bhuvaH svar AUM
AUM, the primordial sound, resides in all elements of the universe. It permeates the earth (-bhUH), water (-bhuvaH), fire (-svaH), air (-mahaH), ether (-janaH), intelligence (-tapaH) and consciousness (-satyam). We pay homage to the universal intelligence, Gayatri, the one who shines like the sun (tat savitur), the one who destroys our ignorance through her effulgent light. Please give light to our path and lead us to higher consciousness and to our true purpose in life. Please shine your light (-jyotiH) on our path so we may enjoy the nectar (rasomRitaM), which is hidden within our Self, while chanting the primordial sound, Aum.
About the author: Nandini Sarkar is Co-founder, C-Quel, a management services company. A lover of the spiritual Masters she is a follower in the Kriya Yoga tradition.
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