15/70/15 – The bell curve of life

Posted on in Everyday Inspiration  ·   1 Comment

Years ago, I would stand in front of an audience and deliver a keynote inspirational speech. Through years of building stories and taking the time to carefully craft my message, my level of comfort at speaking and connecting with the audience seemed to be working. The key word is ‘seemed’ because as I would speak and be consumed by the topic, I would glance around and see those who seemed disengaged…not many but a scattering throughout the audience. This really bothered me because I felt I was not connecting with these individuals. I felt that I had a very important message to share that was going to help their personal journey and yet they were not present to accept this. I would ask myself, “what am I doing wrong?”…”Why can’t I reach them.” I was letting the minority bother me. “Did I let them down?” Not really. I had to re-frame my thoughts on this to understand the situation better and not take it personally. I came to a realization and a rule that I call ‘15/70/15’.

15/70/15 is something that any student would understand when they have encountered the bell curve. The idea is that in any industry or situation I have encountered, I can always apply this rule. No matter what I do, 15% will not be interested in my message for any number of reason and I might be considered a waste of their time. 15% are totally engaged in what I have to share and are already on board and the message is just reinforced. The 70% is interesting because they are a spectrum from one side of saying that the message is alright and I pulled one or two interesting thoughts to the other spectrum where it is really interesting and I would like to learn more. I call this concept my safety valve where I can go forward to do my presentation and realize that not everyone will appreciate the message I have to share. The rule of 15/70/15.

In the future, when you encounter a situation, instead of internalizing it and trying to understand where you might not have hit the mark (we have an inherent need to focus on the not so positive side), look at the other side of those you positively impacted. The rule of 15/70/15 can be applied to so many situations. When I worked on the Olympic Bid Committee, 15% were totally opposed to having the Olympics while 15% were so excited to be able to welcome the world. The 70% were a spectrum of not too thrilled but willing to listen to wanting the Olympics but had concerns. When I worked for the road safety group, 15% of the students would drink and drive no matter what I said while 15% were on the CounterAttack clubs against drinking driving issues. 70% in this case were needing to understand the situation and help making the right decisions.

Even here, 15% might think this write up was not very interesting while 15% have a connection/appreciation with the content. The 70%…a spectrum of interest. In the end, I will keep trying to spread the message but give myself the understanding that not everyone may see things the way I do. While I don’t have to worry about the 15% who appreciate my message and the 70% who can relate, I certainly will not ignore the 15% who don’t care…but I am NOT going to let them bother me.

1 Comment for "15/70/15 – The bell curve of life"

  • Luke says:

    Great post Sam! Ever since you first talked to me about the 15/70/15 rule, it has left a big impression on me – seems to be a fairly universal law!

Leave a Reply