There is an old children’s sto­ry about some­one who asks “Who will help me make my bread?” No one helps. No one helps plant the wheat, har­vest the wheat, mill the wheat, make the dough, or bake it. But at the end when it is asked who will help eat the bread every­one comes run­ning to “help”!

As a para­ble it’s clas­sic, and true. In every orga­ni­za­tion there are those that do the ‘grunt’ work need­ed to keep the group func­tion­ing, even advanc­ing, and those who bare­ly lift a fin­ger. I have been involved with clubs and orga­ni­za­tions for over 30 years and have seen it in all of them. Every­one says they are gung-ho but when it comes to actu­al­ly com­mit­ting the time and ener­gy (and Heav­en-for-bid the mon­ey) to doing some­thing, their will fades faster than a win­ter set­ting sun.

The “Pare­to Prin­ci­ple” – also known as the 80/20 rule  or “vital few and triv­ial many”– was first pos­tu­lat­ed in 1906 by the Ital­ian man­age­ment con­sul­tant Joseph M. Juran.  The name “Pare­to” is for the Ital­ian engi­neer, econ­o­mist and philoso­pher Vil­fre­do Paret.

In terms of group efforts and accom­plish­ments, the 80/20 rule says that 80% of the work is done by only 20% of the peo­ple in a group. (I have also seen it called the 90/10 rule for the same rea­sons.) In more direct terms of a sur­vival group this trans­lates to the real­i­ty that a true demo­c­ra­t­ic process and divi­sion of labor is most like­ly not going to work, either in the prep­ping of the group or in the after­math of an SHTF event. In both cas­es it is more like­ly that some­one or a small cadre of peo­ple will be the lead dri­ving force behind the group. But more than mere­ly set the vision and direc­tion for the group they will do the bulk of the leg work in the group.

There are var­i­ous sug­gest­ed tech­niques for try­ing to moti­vate and inspire peo­ple to step up and do more. But while that may be PC phi­los­o­phy for a busi­ness or social orga­ni­za­tion, a sur­vival group is nei­ther. Every­one must car­ry their weight. This is where care­ful­ly choos­ing who to have in your group is essen­tial. And that will take time to get to know some­one. Even if you only include imme­di­ate fam­i­ly and very very close friends do so with eyes wide open. Every­one has some neg­a­tive to their per­son­al­i­ty and demeanor.  And the real­i­ty is that if some­one in your group isn’t doing their share you need to have some mech­a­nism for approach­ing them, point­ing out where you see them defi­cient, and if they don’t improve you need some way of remov­ing them from the group.

Keep­ing peo­ple involved and moti­vat­ed, regard­less of what first brought them togeth­er, is a chal­lenge. If you live in an area fre­quent­ed by nat­ur­al dis­as­ters (e.g. floods, hur­ri­canes, tor­na­dos, bliz­zards) the events are usu­al, per­haps even fre­quent, and very real. But if your prepa­ra­tions are for the unusu­al and infre­quent events such as an eco­nom­ic calami­ty it is more ethe­re­al and there­fore hard­er to quan­ti­fy in the minds of peo­ple even if they are prep­pers.

How­ev­er, noth­ing in life is that black&white. Some­one who doesn’t seem to be “pull their weight” may not nec­es­sar­i­ly be as bad as it seems if that per­son pro­vides some oth­er mate­r­i­al gains to the group such as land or access to very cheap sup­plies or a lot of financ­ing for the group, etc. Or per­haps some very use­ful knowl­edge such as a doc­tor. That isn’t a free pass for the Life of Riley at the expense of oth­ers but might be a mit­i­gat­ing cir­cum­stance. It’s still an uneasy sit­u­a­tion. Peo­ple will see some­one not work­ing (labor­ing) has hard as they and in the longer run will cause fric­tion in the group.

Nev­er­the­less, be it a sports club or a sur­vival group, the fact remains that some­one peo­ple do have a greater moti­va­tion than oth­ers for the goals of the orga­ni­za­tion. This moti­va­tion dri­ves them to put in more effort than oth­ers. A 100% pure divi­sion of labor isn’t real­is­tic, nor is a 100% demo­c­ra­t­ic struc­ture. The goal is vig­i­lance such that all mem­bers of the group put in the bets of their abil­i­ties to the ulti­mate goals of the group.

If/when a dis­as­ter hap­pens there can be no free lunch­es.


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