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Building Energy Around The Message Of Juggling Elephants

Recently I did a keynote presentation to over 200 sales managers from a large corporation. It was a pleasure to be asked to speak to this group. What was even more exciting was to walk into their corporate facility and see the "set up" of the meeting. They had taken the concepts from Juggling Elephants and wrapped it around the theme for their conference. It included:

  • In the lobby they had set up a concession stand for the breaks where they served drinks, popcorn (popped fresh in a circus-like popcorn machine), and cotton candy.
  • The Directors had dressed up in a variety of circus outfits (gypsies, barkers, clowns, etc.) with the emcee and the vice president dressed as ringmasters.
  • Every detail was covered right down to circus music that played at the breaks.

Each participant had been given the book Juggling Elephants prior to the conference and were encouraged to read it before attending. This was a group, like most of us, that has plenty of acts in their circus. The stage was set for us to have a fun yet very frank discussion on the importance of being the ringmaster of our circuses and creating the performance of a lifetime. I would highly recommend such a setup and experience to any organization whose employees are feeling overwhelmed with too much to do. Taking an intermission to refocus is critical and will bring a return on the investment (and lots more standing ovations).


An Escort Service and Work Life Balance

Got your attention with that one, huh? While talking with a client they commented about their long hours at work and how they weren't taking care of their "self ring." But then they said things had recently changed and they were enjoying being at home more and actually eating lunch. What made the difference to her? Being an escort. Let me explain.

She works in a secure building requiring smart cards and a security clearance. She recently added two interns to her staff and they don't yet have their security clearance. So... she has to walk with them to the cafeteria for lunch and then walk them out at the end of their day. This forces her to at least GO to lunch and then end her day at a more reasonable hour. She said she forgot the benefits of lunch and getting home earlier until the interns came along.

That got me to thinking. What could be the triggers we put in place to help remind us of the importance of taking an "intermission" or not overexerting ourself in relation to work hours? For me it could be recording my six year old's voice saying, "Daddy, when are you coming home?" on my phone and then making that the alarm tone when I set it. It could be moving a picture of my family to a more prominent place on my desk before taking on that "one last task" at work to remind me to not work late-especially when I promised my family I wouldn't. Maybe engage the help of a co worker, who could come by your desk as they leave and tell you something fun they plan to do that evening.

What are some things you can think of that would help bring things back into focus for you so that you don't find yourself in the Juggling Elephants routine again?


We don't offer an escort service, but we do help organizations get to a place they can't get themselves. For more information, click here.


A Tip For The Elephant of Email

One research firm has estimated that in approximately 5 years, 41% of an employee's time will be spent reading and responding to e mail. To me, that's scary!

USA Today had a great article entitled Fridays go from casual to e-mail-free. Marsha Egan, an executive coach gave some superb advice on taming that inbox. Among her suggestions:

  • Don't use e mail to avoid unpleasant tasks. Talk to people face to face whenever possible.
  • Don't constantly check for new messages.
  • Respond to important messages first-even if they're difficult.

One of the most telling comments by Egan was that when you check e-mail, it can take up to 4 minutes to refocus. Multiply that by the number of times you check it per day, and you have wasted alot of time in your lineup that could have been used for a much better act-or even an intermission.


To learn more about how we can help with the elephant of email and other workplace distractions, click here.


A Tip For Leaders (Ringmasters)

Susan Arnold was the first woman to head a global business unit at Proctor and Gamble. In an interview about her success, she made an amazing statement. She said, "Leaders who don't set priorities can burn out their organizations."

What a powerful statement. In Juggling Elephants terms we would say that keeping the performers busy but not focusing on purpose will diminish the success of the circus. Performers need to know the "why" behind the "what." As the Ringmaster, it's your job to know the reason for the arrangement of the lineup and to communicate it to the performers.

How well do the performers in your circus know the priorities driving their acts? What can you do today to make sure you don't burn them out?


To help your leaders better manage ALL they have to juggle, click here.


Before You Give Up On New Year's Resolutions

At the beginning of the year, it can be very overwhelming to look at our "circus" and think of all the areas where we want to improve our lineup. It can even get depressing for some. New Year's resolutions and our goals for the upcoming year can seem daunting and with almost one month gone in 2008 we forget about them so that we don’t have to face that we are falling short so quickly.

I take strength from the thought, "How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time." Break down your goals into bite size pieces. Spread your goals throughout the year and also be realistic as you make resolutions. Like we say in the book, "What's the best time to bring this new act into the lineup?" Focus on one per week or one per month. One-Two well executed improvements (see blog from Tuesday) are better than 4-5 sloppily attempted that are ultimate failures.

Lastly, look at what acts can be removed from your circus as you look to add new ones. Nothing weighs more heavily on a performer than a line up that is too crowded... that loud crash is an elephant that just fell on someone-don't let it be you.


Before the people in your organization give up on their new year's resolution, consider a webinar on the message of Juggling Elephants. Click here to learn more.