It would be nice if we were made of a substance like one of those really durable, big, fat rubber bands. No matter how much you stretch it, it just continues to expand.
But we are not. No matter how capable you are, there is a limit to how much we can pile on without everything crashing in.
Some of us are better at multi-tasking than others. When people look at me as an example, they can’t believe that I can keep all of the various balls in the air that I do.
But I remember back to the days when we ran 40 projects for 20 customers in a year. That makes “writing a book, launching a new technology and doing select consulting engagements for people that I really love” seem like child’s play. Balancing three things plus being a mom of two young adults? No problem.
Yet, that year that we did all those projects — that was the first year in more than a decade that we lost money and I nearly killed myself physically. I ended up with chronic anemia and later that year had to have surgery.
Fortunately, my team was able to pick up the slack when I was out recovering for three months, but after that, I decided that I couldn’t keep up that pace and in fact had lost my passion for consulting as a result.
The life balance mischief is thinking you are invincible and not knowing which of the balls that you are juggling are fragile and which will bounce back if you drop them.
I have seen the following attributed to Bryan Dyson the CEO of Coca Cola Enterprises from a commencement address, someone else claimed to hear it at Price-Babson Fellowship Program and have also read this quote in a book.
No matter the source, take this one to heart:
Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling five balls in the air. You name them – work, family, health, friends and spirit – and you’re keeping all of these in the air. You will soon understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back.
But the other four balls – family, health, friends and spirit – are made of glass. If you drop one of these, they will be irrevocably scuffed, marked, nicked, damaged, or even shattered. They will never be the same.
What are you juggling that may be taking you away from those things in your life that are made of glass?