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Entries in ringmaster (25)


The Ringmaster Named Dave

I will never forget a training program with a group of school administrators and school district leaders in California. They were a dynamic, engaging group and I tremendously enjoyed my time with them. I also had the unique opportunity to see a fantastic ringmaster in action.

I arrived early to set up for the meeting and was met by "Dave" the facilities manager. He greeted me at the door, ushered me into the meeting room and immediately began asking me what I needed to get set up. No matter what I asked, Dave either had it available or quickly contacted someone to take care of it. When he finished with me, he moved to the food service area and guided the group as they set up for breakfast. Next, it was time to greet the participants. He was everywhere!

Once the program started, I noticed that Dave would stop by from time to time, checking on things and making changes as needed. Always upbeat, he left a wake of smiles as he scurried around taking care of things.

The most telling moment about Dave came when I talked with him after the program. I thanked him for doing such an outstanding job taking care of all of us. His response, "This is my school, and whatever happens here is a reflection of me." Dave gets a HUGE standing ovation from me and countless others in that school system. I left that meeting having learned much.

Who could you observe today that could teach you something about being a better ringmaster of your circus?


Want to build better ringmasters in your workplace. Let's make it happen!


Out of Your Control

 The Ringmaster has the greatest impact on the circus.

(Juggling Elephants, page 30)
Yesterday I talked with someone who really understands their circus and their role as the ringmaster. They make a living taking transcriptions. They are responsible for transcribing official meetings, court proceedings and other discussions where every word must be captured correctly.
In asking about her schedule, she told me that she previously had tried to sometimes schedule 2 appointments per day. The challenge came when one meeting ran longer than expected. She couldn't leave her current location to get to the other meeting. If she missed the other meeting, it caused a myriad of problems for the other group. Her solution? In her words, "I only schedule one meeting per day because I have no control over the length of the meeting." The additional stress and possible loss of business was not worth it.
If we are honest with ourselves, there are some things over which we have no control. Whether it's the length of a meeting, time of a project, or an uncertain economy. In those moments, we have to make the conscious decision to limit our lineup and not keep adding acts that we most likely will not be able to perform. As the ringmaster, we need to add them to the lineup when it best fits our opportunity to perform them.



What NOT To Talk To Your Ringmaster About

In the past we have posted at least two blogs on phrases you should avoid using when talking to your boss. has posted a good article about the 10 types of conversations you should avoid having with those to whom you report. The list includes:

  • Night life (whether it's partying until all hours or being at home with your family)
  • Religious beliefs (unless you are being asked to do something that violates your spiritual beliefs
  • Political affiliation

There are others which you might find surprising. To read the entire list, click here.


An Important Word For Successful Ringmasters

After a recent Juggling Elephants training program, a participant said, “Your focus on being a good ringmaster is like the difference between ‘have and make.’” With my curiosity aroused, I said, “How so?” She continued. “Think about the phrase ‘Have a great day’ versus ‘Make it a great day.’ One implies taking things as they come to you while the other suggests a need to take more responsibility in lining up your acts to accomplish your purpose.” What a superb insight!

When I pondered her perspective, I had to laugh at how often I hear the word “have” versus “make.” While I am sure people aren’t encouraging us to be passive when they say things like, “Have a great trip” or “I hope you have a great weekend,” those comments should be a quick reminder to all of us that we are the ringmasters of our circus and we have to line up the right acts to get the standing ovations we want from our performance.

So the next time you catch yourself saying or thinking, “I hope I have…” change “have” to “make”… it could just MAKE all the difference in your circus today!


Being the Ringmaster of Your Traveling Circus

USA Today recently had an article entitled Tips to Take Stress Out of Big City Trips. While the focus was on business travel to big cities, it had some good strategies for anyone who has to travel out of town for business. They include (with the correlating ideas from Juggling Elephants):

  • The bigger the city, the more you have to think through every step of the trip. (The more complex your circus performance, the more you need to pay attention to every detail)
  • When traveling by car in a big city, hire a driver or use the same taxi driver each time. (Delegate a less critical task to someone so you can focus on a more critical task)
  • Reduce pre-trip stress while at home. (Take an intermission before you get ready for your "next-half" so you can be more focused and prepared).

The article offers other suggestions-all leading to a traveling circus that gets more standing ovations from your clients... and yourself.