Saturday, August 12, 2006

Curious about Percents and Percentages: What Effects Do They Produce for You?

Fifty percent of people won't vote, and fifty percent don't read newspapers. I hope it's the same fifty percent.” - Gore Vidal

This past week, as I listened to the radio’s report on Tuesday’s special elections, I was shocked when one of the reporters said a certain candidate had won by a “landslide.” She went on to announce that he had received 59 percent of the vote.

I was shocked that this is considered unusually high. Think about it. That means that 41 percent of the voters wanted someone else to win. If you were running for office, how pleased would this make you?

It started me thinking about percentages and percents - what they mean and how easily they are bandied about in so many statements.

We discuss them a great deal when thinking about fitness and our eating habits. There are as many different suggestions about the recommended percentages of protein, fat and carbohydrates, as there are nutritional plans.
  • You want to know why you are at a certain body weight and body fat percentage and that's knowing exactly what you eat all of the time.” - Warren Cuccurullo
  • We can get along on only 20 percent of our lung capacity, but that dragging sort of existence is a poor substitute for the vitality we enjoy when the twin bellows of our lungs are taking in great drafts of oxygen.” - Gene Tunney
  • When Campbell's soup said 20 percent more chicken, I just wanted to know what went. The can's the same size. Something had to go.” - Don Novello

Let’s consider success. Percents and percentages are repeated with abandon concerning this topic. At least, I didn’t run across the advice to give everything your 110 percent (an impossibility).

  • Eighty percent of success is showing up.” - Woody Allen
  • Leadership is the key to 99 percent of all successful efforts.” - Erskine Bowles
  • Ninety percent of my game is mental. It's my concentration that has gotten me this far.” - Chris Evert Lloyd
  • The mind is the limit. As long as the mind can envision the fact that you can do something, you can do it, as long as you really believe 100 percent.” - David Hockney
  • You never can tell what a man is able to do, but even though I recommend ten, and nine of them may disappoint me and fail, the tenth one may surprise me. That percentage is good enough for me, because it is in developing people that we make real progress in our own society.” - August Vollmer

And then there is that often repeated 80 - 20 rule. You have heard it, I am sure. In the business world, 20 percent of the sales people sell 80 percent of the product. 20 percent of the employees do 80 percent of the work. Unfortunately, 80 percent of the effort we expend in our businesses often brings in only 20 percent of the results.

  • Henry A. Kissinger has the solution, “If eighty percent of your sales come from twenty percent of all of your items, just carry those twenty percent.”

There were many other interesting ideas and quotations about percents and percentages. Let me share a few of these that I think you will enjoy:

  • Ninety-nine percent of who you are is invisible and untouchable.”- R. Buckminster Fuller
  • Harpists spend 90 percent of their lives tuning their harps and 10 percent playing out of tune.” - Igor Stravinsky
  • An advertising agency is 85 percent confusion and 15 percent commission.” - Fred Allen
  • In Hollywood, an equitable divorce settlement means each party getting fifty percent of publicity.” - Lauren Bacall
  • Ninety-two percent of the stuff told you in confidence you couldn't get anyone else to listen to.” - Franklin P. Adams
  • Santa is our culture's only mythic figure truly believed in by a large percentage of the population. It's a fact that most of the true believers are under eight years old, and that's a pity.” - Chris Van Allsburg

I always like to close these blogs with some thought-provoking quotations for you to consider during this coming week:

  • I am astonished each time I come to the U.S. by the ignorance of a high percentage of the population, which knows almost nothing about Latin America or about the world. It's quite blind and deaf to anything that may happen outside the frontiers of the U.S.” - Eduardo Galeano
  • We have become ninety-nine percent money mad. The method of living at home modestly and within our income, laying a little by systematically for the proverbial rainy day which is due to come, can almost be listed among the lost arts.” - George Washington Carver

On a more positive note: “When you go into a setting like Camden Yards or Fenway Park and you walk out on the field for the first time, there's a sense of unbelievable awe, a feeling that only a very small percentage of people ever get to feel. You want to be able to share that, to bring that feeling, that dream, into focus.” - Cal Ripken, Jr.

Have a wonderful week!