Juggling Crystal Balls
My husband happens to be a man of many talents. Juggling is just one of them. While he’s pretty good at it, you won’t see him on America’s Got Talent juggling flaming pins or chainsaws. In fact, he occasionally drops whatever he happens to be juggling. Since he isn’t charging tickets to his juggling act and mostly doing it to entertain himself, dropping a ball is no big deal. It might turn into a big deal if he put down the racquet balls and started juggling items that are more dangerous or valuable.
I recently heard a speaker, Cynthia Marshall-CEO of the Dallas Mavericks, who explored this concept. We are daily participating in a figurative juggling act full of quickly moving balls. We juggle family dinners, work commitments, volunteer activities, sporting schedules, church involvement, school projects, and more! Her words of wisdom for her listeners was to be clear about which balls were rubber and which were crystal. Which of the thousands of moving pieces, if it gets dropped or mishandled, will bounce back? And which of those same pieces, if dropped will shatter into a million pieces and never be the same again? That is a pretty powerful filter to run tasks and opportunities through as they come your way. As a person who uses to-do lists, I can even see making a list with two headings, crystal and rubber, to help guide where my time goes.
Marshall’s metaphor was definitely food for reflection, and while I chewed on it there were a few more thoughts that came to the surface. The first one is pretty obvious; the value of crystal is far greater than the value of rubber and the same is true for the balls in our lives. The value of being present and engaged in the big events of my children’s lives is precious, while making sure my house is show-home clean before the party celebrating that event is not. The second was about the heavy weight of a crystal versus the light weight of rubber. The emotional weight associated with our crystal ball priorities is enormous compared to the emotional value we attach to the rubber ball list. Knowing that the decisions affecting the heart of my husband far outweigh the effect of decisions on my coworkers, helps influence a decision significantly. Lastly, how many crystal balls can one person safely hold before one gets dropped, even if you aren’t juggling them? My guess is not too many! That crystal ball list is going to need to be really short. Are there priorities in my life that I’ve mislabeled as crystal when they really need to be rubber? Definitely. So here is my new list: Being in a faithful relationship with God, investing time and energy in my marriage, supporting and celebrating my children as they cross the threshold into adulthood, and being a positive influence in the community that surrounds children and education. Once I am a professional at juggling these four, I might add another one, but it definitely won’t be anything about cleaning my house—that will always be rubber!