The Pareto Principle and the Matthew effect

I was never lucky enough to attend university so often people talk about many principles and theories I have never heard of. This morning I was reading a book that mentioned two and went into a little bit of detail and I found it pretty interesting.

Pareto principle

I’d heard of the 80/20 rule in development terms: “The last 20% of the work takes 80% of the time to complete”. Learning that this was a “thing” was interesting.

The Pareto principle (also known as the 80/20 rule, the law of the vital few, or the principle of factor sparsity) states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.

Matthew Effect

I can say that I’ve seen this in action first hand with conference speakers. Often someone does their first-ever conference talk, submits it elsewhere and because a meetup organiser has seen the talk they are more likely to accept it. Once the talk has been done at two events, the speaker submits it to a third conference and is approached afterwards to share the talk at a fourth event. The speaker, now having gained the confidence of organisers, gains confidence in themselves and submits more topics to various events and in turn, they are approached to speak at other events.

The Matthew effect, Matthew principle, or Matthew effect of accumulated advantage can be observed in many aspects of life and fields of activity. It is sometimes summarized by the adage "the rich get richer and the poor get poorer."

We become less empathetic with age and more compassionate

Simon Sinek - Leadership through Inspiration

I really enjoy listening to Simon Sinek and the way he conveys a narrative. This interview was conducted at the Aspen Ideas Festival 2017. If you have watched a lot of Sinek’s talks there are stories that you’ll identify quickly, yet I don’t mind hearing him tell them again.

What came up during the interview as a paper mentioned by Arthur Brooks which states that according to research, as we age we become less empathetic. This was very surprising to me since older people always make for the best people to get direction and advice from. Arthur then shares the final part of the study that states that although we become less empathetic, we also become more compassionate.

This did surprise me. My understanding of compassion was that it was a precursor to empathy, turns out it is the other way around. I found this description really useful -> Psychology Today - Empathy vs Sympathy

“Compassion (‘suffering with’) is more engaged than simple empathy and is associated with an active desire to alleviate the suffering of its object. With empathy, I share your emotions; with compassion, I not only share your emotions but also elevate them into a universal and transcending experience. Compassion, which builds upon empathy, is one of the main motivators of altruism”

Leveraging software mentorship to grow people & Jay Shetty highlights

Leveraging software mentorship to grow people by Mark Pearl

I’ve known Mark for a long time now and I get quite excited when he shares a new talk. I always learn so much from the way he shares information. This talk was presented at the Xero offices in Auckland at a meetup group called: “The Leadership Grind” which is organised by Hady Osman.

My takeaways from Mark’s talk:

  • I learnt about “The Hero’s Journey
  • Just because someone reports to me, doesn’t mean I’m the best-placed person to mentor them.
  • Encourage my reports to find their own mentors, this changes the concept of mentoring to being a “pull” system instead of a “push” system.
  • It’s up to the mentor/mentee to review and renew their arrangement if it is still working for them and they’re deriving value from it.
  • Set up some rules for the mentoring relationship:
    • “There are no stupid questions. Ever.”
    • Confidentiality is paramount.
    • Identify clear goals and outcomes of the relationship
    • Meet regularly

Jay Shetty - Impact Theory (highlights)

The whole interview with Jay Shetty on the Impact Theory show was excellent. I remember watching it and loving the way he told the story about his life. Recently these highlights were put together and published. I watched this 3 times today and I’m still working through it in my mind.

These are the things that stood out to me:

  • “We should plant trees under whose shade we do not plan to sit” - Selfless Sacrifice
  • “We live in echo chambers”
    • Although I disagree with this, I can see what he means. If we only surround ourselves with people that share our thoughts, beliefs and cultures then this would be true.
    • I think we should seek out people with opposed views and explore them, not attack them.
  • “I am not what I think I am. I am not what you think I am. I am, what I think, you think, I am.”
    • Besides needing to listen to this sentence a few times to get it, I think it’s a fascinating idea.
    • I do wonder whether I fall into this trap. I would like to think that I am “my own person”, this is something I’ll need to try observe.
  • “You can’t be what you can’t see”
    • I immediately equate this to The Four Stages of Competence
    • Again, I see his point and disagree with it at the fringes. Someone needs to be the first at something. Often this wouldn’t be an intentional thing and once they’ve blazed the trail, others can follow.
  • Detachment is not that you own nothing, it’s that nothing owns you.
  • When you feel like something isn’t going well in life, ask yourself these three questions:
    • Is my environment out of alignment?
    • Is my energy out of alignment?
    • Is my element out of alignment?