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Entries in Reflection (10)


That One Act Could Make The Difference

Recently, on an episode of Antiques Roadshow, a man brought a set of five strange looking cups for appraisal. They turned out to be worth over one million dollars!

While most of us don't have such treasures stored in our closets, we do have a thought, plan or idea that could make a major difference in the success of our work, relationships or our personal well being. When we are so busy juggling elephants, however, we don't take the time to make such things a part of our lineup. We bury them under crises, mundane tasks and the mantra of "I'm just trying to keep up." Who knows what might change if we did take the time to grow one of these ideas to reality?

Today make it a priority to bring one of those buried but valuable acts into your lineup. The results might be more than you ever imagined.


Giving People A Visual At ASTD

Exhibiting at the ASTD Conference in Orlando is always a fantastic opportunity to engage with our current client base and get new opportunities to share the message of Juggling Elephants. One of the most telling moments is how people identify with the phrase "juggling elephants" in so many different ways. Here are some of their initial comments when they walk up to our booth:

  • "Hey! That's my job description."
  • "That describes my life situation perfectly."
  • "My people feel like that."
  • "...And last week one of the elephants fell on me."
  • "Isn't that the new norm in the workplace?"

Pictures or visuals shared in an analogy give us the opportunity to emotionally connect to an issue or challenge in a fresh and less threatening way and then to look at possible solutions. We are thankful for the chance to help others look at their struggle of "too much to do" in a new light, and to begin making changes that will help them get more "standing ovations" in their circus.


Cut Out the Dreaming!

I recently read a book that was just published on time management. Like Juggling Elephants, the book points out the need to pick and choose what we do with our time because there are so many opportunities and not enough time to do everything. The author encourages that one way of picking and choosing is that if you don't do something very well or that you can't excel at it, then you shouldn't do it all. You need to focus on what you do well and maximize those things. That got me thinking. Should you cut something out just because you don't do it very well?

If you are an organization and one of your products isn't performing very well and the market responds in kind by not buying the product then yes, you probably should remove that from your "line up" or quickly improve. (Although I know some companies that don't do things very well - poor product quality or terrible service - yet they continue to keep the doors open and make large profits.) I do believe organizations should pursue excellence and focus on what they do well, removing the distractions of what they can't excel at. Point well taken – mostly.

But on the other hand, when it comes to your personal life or your "self ring" should you really abandon something just because you are not "good at it"? For example, I am a terrible gardener. But, every year I plant a garden with the usual plants. Bugs eat my produce, I forget to water half the time, weeds grow better than my lettuce and the cost is probably more than if I went to the store and bought the same amount of produce that I harvest. But, I still find value in planting a garden every year. It helps me relax and it gives me time with my family as we work together planting, weeding, watering, etc. There is a sense of pride for me picking and eating something that I have grown. I am not good at it, but it provides value to me. I enjoy it!

Someone might not be a good parent, but does that mean you just give up on parenting because you are not good at it? Definitely not! I think a big part of the benefit in doing something comes in the journey as we work on things that we are weak at and struggle through trying to get better.

Be careful about removing something from your line up that you value, like your dreams, just because you are not good at it. Kobi Yamada said, Don't run through life so fast that you forget where you've been and lose where you're going. Life is not a race, but a journey to be savored every step of the way. Some of the things that we savor the most might not be the things that we do the best. Be careful about taking the life out of life.


Time for Discovery

I was recently in a Middle School Orientation for one of my daughters who will be heading into 7th grade. The principal spoke and made the statement, "Middle School is about discovery. It is a time to help your children decide what they want to be when they grow up." She then went on to explain the classes that the students would be taking that would expose them to a variety of topics that would help them as they decide their future.

As I thought about my daughter and the classes that she would be taking, I couldn't help but wonder what she would discover over the next 10+ years and what she would become when she grows up. (I often wonder what I will be when I grow up-with the emphasis on "when I grow up.") My mind started formulating what her plan should be and what she was good at and where her testing scores were and how important being in the right classes was going to be-then I had a brain aneurysm-or maybe it was a epiphany.

Is there a time in our lives that we should stop discovering, be grown up and fall into a routine of what we should be? Are the goals/decisions that we make in Middle School, High School, and College the ultimate blue print or path for the rest of our lives? Our lives change, our situations change and our dreams evolve. Sure, placement tests and classes in school can help us with discovery and opportunities, but maybe there should be a class on "Life Long Discovery." Shouldn't we discover new things when we are 30, 50, 90?

It is time to discover something new... where is that brochure on scuba diving?


Quote for A Monday

We don't see things as they are... we see them as we are.
-Anais Nin

What's your perspective today? Is it to get (and give) standing ovations today? Or is it to simply stay busy today and hope things work out for the best?