A colleague of mine recently forwarded a 1996 Georgia Tech Commencement Address by the then President and CEO of Cola-Cola Enterprises, Brian G. Dyson. Coincidentally, another colleague brought it up during a work-life panel discussion that I was on last week. Since I can't verify the pedigree I'll leave it to you to decide for yourself, but I do love the points he makes about people, love, time, and more.
Whether the attribution is right or not, we've got some great discussion materials. In the opening of the speech, he says:
Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling some five balls in the air. You name them – work, family, health, friends and spirit … and you’re keeping all of these in the air.
He goes on to say that work is a rubber ball and that if dropped, it will bounce back. The other four balls are made of glass and if dropped, could become "irrevocably scuffed, marked, nicked, damaged or even shattered". A bit strong, but he clearly makes the point, eh?
Here's my problem. We don't have 5 balls to juggle. We have a lot more and I contend that we are going to drop a few - all the time. I tell my team that I know that they have too many balls to keep in the air. They know that I will fully support (and defend them) if people get upset that a ball or two is dropped. All I ask is that they show the necessary judgement to drop the right balls. It really is just another way of prioritization and I expect then not to drop a "nuclear ball". If one of those work balls has the big bosses name on it, please don't drop that one!
All aspects of our lives bring us too many balls to juggle. The piles of paper in my study that I really need to clean up - someday - just sits there. If I look real hard, I'm sure that ball has been kicked into a corner somewhere.