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Posted: February 28, 2013

Best of CoBiz: I love you but you make me crazy

That's the 80/20 rule

Laurence B. Valant

(Editor's Note: This is an excerpt from business performance improvement expert Larry Valant's book, Stop Breaking These Rules! 100 Hard-Hitting Truths for Business Integrity and Performance.)

The 80/20 rule says that even those we like best make us crazy 20 percent of the time.

We as humans tend to be demanding and exacting, especially of others (less of ourselves). This tendency, over time, will ensure that some people will frustrate us and create more relationship challenges than others.

There will always be people we tend to like and enjoy being with more than others, yet even those we like a great deal will sometimes irritate us and annoy us. We should then realize that we do the same to them, even those who like us a great deal.

Hence, a light hearted and worth observing application of the Pareto Principle: even those we like best and enjoy the most make us crazy 20 percent of the time (and vice versa).

Parents deserve their children.
Why would I include such a statement in a book whose purpose is fundamentally meant to challenge business leaders? Because the statement "parents deserve their children" illustrates a failure or success in leadership that translates directly to the business world.

Don't you love to hear, "Where could she (or he) possibly have learned that? I am so embarrassed." The behaviors you see in your children were learned from or tolerated by you.

How does a parent contribute to their children's poor behavior? The parent fails to communicate unambiguously or clarify their expectations with their children. They at least occasionally and often repeatedly tolerate poor behavior. What message does a child receive when the parent lets them get away with not delivering what is requested? The management team (Mom and Dad) don't agree on the objectives and send mixed messages. The parent has very poor or inconsistent follow through.

Are you beginning to get the picture?

Your children are a reflection of your leadership in the home, and goodness knows you deserve what you create. It is true, both businesses and children thrive when their leaders clarify expectations, create processes where success is possible and reward good (and not poor) performance.

What applies at work applies at home.

To quote myself, "In fact, when you can communicate clear expectations, you are 80 percent of the way to successful management....and successful parenting, and a good marriage!"

By developing the routine and discipline of performing cash flow analysis on a weekly basis and projecting cash requirements in detail on a week by week basis, a company can identify potential cash crunches before they occur. (Marriages often fail because of financial stress - cash management and good budgeting apply at home, of course."

Other realities we have discussed together earlier also apply in both business and personal relationships, and you will recall:

 I must be able to meet and pass the Hallway Test every day and with every person in my life. If I cannot, then I have work to do to resolve differences and settle disputes. (Our homes have hallways too!)
 "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." This sensible, elegantly simple rule provides the basis for wonderful relationships between and among people, businesses, and countries.  A light hearted and worth observing application of the Pareto Principle: even those we like best and enjoy the most, make us crazy 20 percent of the time (and vice versa).
 My Resentment Gauge only reads empty if I have wronged or hurt no one today (that especially includes at home) and I have not let any wrongs toward me register on my gauge - that's a choice I get to make.
 Compromise builds bridges to a closeness and understanding that are the foundation of good and successful relationships.

Laurence B. Valant is President and CEO of Valant & Co., a Denver-based business performance improvement consultancy that has worked with almost 300 firms to increase their value by billions of dollars. He is co-author of the hot-selling new book, “Make Plan! With Effective Execution” and now, “Lead and Manage!” Valant can be reached at or at 303-589-3840. If you want more information or would like to order a copy of “Stop Breaking These Rules! 100 Hard-Hitting Truths for Business Integrity and Performance,” please visit

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