The 80-10-10 Principle about Critics, Praise, and People

When I was a young boy, my dad would share nuggets of wisdom with me. These life lessons have shaped my worldview today. If you have kids, they’re never too young to learn important life lessons from you. Not a week goes by that my two kids don’t here me say, “You know, there is an important life lesson in this and here it is…”

How about you? Do you ever take the time to look at the big picture? There is a life lesson in almost everything we encounter in life. But we have to be willing to rise out of our current circumstances in order to see them. These life lessons can help us to put things in perspective, where without them we’d just shut down. One example is the 80-10-10 principle my father taught me.

The 80-10-10 principle in life

Do you struggle with criticism? Does it shut you down for days when someone says something negative about you, your life or your work? Or are you on the opposite spectrum? Do you bask too much in the praises of other people? Do you find your worth from those who always sing their praises to you and your work?

The real question is how do we find a balance in all of this? The answer is the 80-10-10 principle. When I was a young boy my father would often say, “Jonathan, 10% of people will dislike what you do no matter what and you can’t change them. 10% of people will love what you do no matter what you do. It’s what you do through serving the other 80% that matters.”

I’ve never forgot those words. I still let them guide me today. Whenever I receive harsh, unfounded criticism where no truth can be found, I remind myself they are a part of the 10%. When I receive praise from those who admire me the most, while I’m thankful, I’m reminded they are a part of the other 10%. This grounds me and helps me to continue to serve the middle. Let’s take a closer look at each of these.

10% of people will dislike what you do no matter what

Whether the exact percentage is true or not, knowing this delivers you from being a people pleaser. It doesn’t mean we think we’re better than other people. We just recognize the criticism for what it is. If there’s no truth to be found in it, we see it for what it is. The 10% of those we can’t make happy. And we’re okay with that.

10% of people will love what you do no matter what

We all need cheerleaders in our life. Those amazing people who are for us no matter what. They walk in the door when the whole world is walking out. They believe in us and in their eyes we can do no wrong. While I’m so thankful to have people like this in my life, there is a danger we must be aware of. If we live in those praises, we don’t stretch and grow. We are blinded by areas that need improvement. We can live off of yesterday’s mountain top, while there is still another important hill to climb today. Be grateful for these people in your life, but keep them in perspective.

What you do with the other 80% matters

How well do you serve the other 80%? Remember, it’s not about being a people pleaser. It’s about serving others well. The other 80% are neutral and impressionable. Your character, integrity, and heart to serve them will move them into the positive percentage. Your lack of people skills, pride, bad reputation, and sole desire for wealth above all things will move the majority of this group into the negative. They can be persuaded one way or another but it’s ultimately determined by you. Your actions matter.

How are you doing today at serving the other 80%? 



    Jonathan has been blogging since 2009 and is still in awe that the Creator of the Universe desires to have a relationship with him. His passions include spending time with his kids, reading, March Madness, surprise get-a-way trips with his wife, and watching funny YouTube videos.

    Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

    Leave a Reply