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The 10/80/10 Rule

I had a great discussion today with Hugh Liddle, a local sales coach, who described the concept of “the 10/80/10 rule.” I hadn’t heard this before, so I thought I’d share it with all of you. It’s quite pertinent to our current situation.

Here’s the idea: When people are under times of crisis, you’ll find:

  • 10% of the people make the wrong decision and fail.
  • 80% of the people wait for someone else to fix the problem, and remain stuck until someone starts leading.
  • 10% of the people become leaders – they take action, they make decisions, and they’re the ones most likely to succeed.

Apparently this observation came from looking at people who survived the 9/11 disaster. A few people took charge and started leading people down the stairwells in the towers, and they were the ones who likely survived.

But this model also seems uncannily accurate in the current economic crisis, doesn’t it? Indeed, 80% of the people are waiting around for the governments, or bankers, or SOMEBODY to fix the problem. It just seems so large and intractable for the individual to deal with.

And there are a few people who are actively doing the wrong things. They’re freaking out, they’re overreacting at election time, they’re doing anything to escape from the economy. The paths of their lives and their life savings may be ruined.

But there’s a few people – 10% doesn’t seem a bad estimate – who are figuring out how to deal with this. Many of them are running small businesses, because that’s where the opportunity lies right now. They’re focusing on what customers need, they’re addressing real problems, and they’re changing their products and services so that people will actually buy. Others are starting to notice, which gives me hope that small business will lead the economic recovery.

Which part of the population do you fall in?

Carl Dierschow
Small Fish Business Coach, Fort Collins Colorado



About the Author

Carl Dierschow

Carl Dierschow is our Small Fish Business Coach in Colorado in the USA. With over 17 years of experience in professional business coaching, he helps clients around the world to build profitable, powerful, sustainable companies. You may want to check out his targeted blogs at and

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