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Tread softly on my dreams

William Butler Yeats wrote the following lines in Cloths from Heaven: "I have spread my dreams beneath your feet / tread softly because you tread on my dreams."

Almost every day and in so many ways, young people come in and out of our lives and they bring their dreams with them. Sometimes they are incredibly talented and possess so many assets that, though they still want our adult approval, such is their ability that what they really want is to ensure that we do not get in their way.

For the most part, however, young people are like most of us, they are average. They possess many different skill sets. They are what used to be called, "well-rounded," possessed of varied interests and inclinations but often lacking an area of profound interest or skill. As our culture becomes more and more specialized and competitive, will the young people and later the adults that we anoint, become an even smaller group than it is now?

While in Graduate School, I became acquainted with a concept developed by Italian Economist Vilfredo Pareto. The import of Pareto's Principle or Pareto's Analysis is that 20 percent of the vital few will influence 80 percent of the outcomes in any given situation. Later, a variety of economists demonstrated that, worldwide, Pareto's distribution of wealth was valid. In 1989, 20 percent of the richest people in the world possessed 82.7 percent of the wealth.

If the 80/20 rule is valid and 20 percent of any given population controls 80 percent of the resources, where that does leave the 80 percent that only have 20 percent of the resources to compete for? Are we all engaged in a desperate struggle to become part of the 20 percent that control most of the resources? For some, yes, and some will move into the controlling 20 percent.

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