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The Lever #040 - Harness the Power of Pearson's Law

Its important to do the work. And its also important to TRACK the work you do.

Here's why:


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If you always do what you always done, you'll always get what you always got.

I first heard these words in a worksite safety briefing. The site leader was prepping the team for another shift in a hazardous, industrial setting. And while the lesson appears simple on the surface, it got me thinking:

How do you tell when you are doing what you've always done?

People work with blinders on, and various cognitive biases will hide what is right in front of your face. So if you want to stop getting what you've always got, you need a tool.

You need to be collecting data.

Because data doesn't lie.

Here Comes Karl

Karl Pearson was a Professor of Applied Mathematics in London who made significant contributions to the fields of statistics and social science during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. His passion for scientific inquiry and relentless pursuit of empirical evidence laid the foundation for modern statistics as we know it.

Even Albert Einstein studied his work.

And while the science of statistics at first seems like a dry one, Pearson's work was firmly rooted in human psychology. It was this humanistic view that made his greatest contrition all the more powerful.

Pearson's Law

That which is measured improves. That which is measured and reported improves exponentially.

Pearson was in his late 40s when he developed Pearson's Law (so you've still got time).

This groundbreaking insight emerged from his extensive work in statistics and his pioneering efforts to apply statistical methods to various scientific disciplines, including biology, genetics, psychology, and sociology.

The principle suggests that the act of measuring a behavior or performance alone can lead to improvements, but when these measurements are shared and reported, the rate of improvement accelerates exponentially.

This phenomenon can be attributed to various psychological mechanisms that play a pivotal role in motivating individuals and groups to excel.

You can see the law at work in the famous Hawthorne Experiments which found that simply measuring a behavior will often lead to increased performance.

Because what gets measured gets managed.

Limits of Measurement

To be effective as a tool for improvement however there are two dangers to address.

First, the measurements must be simple.

For tasks that involve high levels of complexity or require creative thinking, constant measurement and reporting can create undue pressure. This can hinder performance instead of enhancing it.

Second, beware the game.

People can and will find ways to manipulate the measurements to achieve short-term gains without genuinely improving their performance.

"Gaming the system" can distort the accuracy of measurements and undermine any benefits of the exercise.

4 Steps To Unstoppable Success

Pearson's Law provides a powerful tool that can propel you and your team along a transformative journey of continuous improvement and success.

Here's how:

Step 1: Identify Your Goals and Set Specific Metrics

Setting specific and challenging objectives is crucial.

Break these down into measurable metrics that align with your goal.

For example, if you aim to boost sales revenue, quantify the target percentage increase you want to achieve.

Step 2: Implement Regular Measurement and Reporting

Consistent measurement and reporting is key.

Utilize technology and software solutions to track relevant metrics efficiently. Share this data with your team or stakeholders openly to invoke the Hawthorne Effect and capitalize on the power of positive reinforcement.

Step 3: Adapt and Pivot Strategically

As you progress, stay flexible and be willing to adapt your strategies based on the data you gather.

If certain metrics are not improving as expected, identify potential bottlenecks or areas for improvement and adjust your approach accordingly.

Embrace a growth mindset, recognizing that failures or setbacks are opportunities to learn and refine your path to success.

Step 4: Create a Feedback Loop

Communication is key.

Discuss progress with your team, or self-assess during regular reviews.

The feedback loop reinforces the positive impact of Pearson's Law, and lets you quickly adjust course by doubling down on what works and stopping what doesn't.

The Meta Habit

Tracking is the one habit that drives all others.

If you want to get better at something start tracking it. The simple act of tracking and review will begin to drive improvements even before you apply extra effort.

And remember that the best tracking is the simplest.

Download a habit tracker to your phone, set up a few simple goals, and break them down into basic Yes/No metrics.

Did I do the thing today?

Update your tracker at the end of each day, review it each morning, and watch your results soar.

The data doesn't lie.


  1. Set Smart Goals

  2. Track metrics daily

  3. Review and pivot strategically

  4. Create a powerful feedback loop

If you want to go further I break this system down further in my book, linked below.


When you are ready, here are a few ways I can help:

1. Subscribe to The Lever (if you haven't already)

This covers a science-based productivity concept each week, in about five minutes. Try a free chapter of my new book when you subscribe. And if you like it...

Peaceful Productivity outlines the time-management system I've created over the years as a ship's Captain and business executive. It will help you plan, prioritize, and get more of the right things done. Also available on Amazon  

This short course will teach you the fundamentals of a powerful timeblocking system to make sure you never miss an obligation and always show up prepared. Give yourself the space you need to create the life you deserve.

Smart systems to make you productive, prolific, and profitable | Find me on Twitter @SeanPHogue | Sign up here for the weekly newsletter, The Lever, and create some leverage in your life.


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