Most leaders would prefer not to compare themselves to a circus act, but in reality, part of the job of a leader is to be a master juggler. Whether you are juggling chain saws or glass balls (and I’m guessing at times it feels like you are juggling both) the key to success is the position of your eyes, your hands, and your rhythm.
The placement of your eyes, your focus, may be the most counter-intuitive but also the easiest to master. Don’t watch the ball/project/crisis. Look straight ahead toward your vision/mission/ultimate goal. Think about it . . . if you keep your eyes on the chainsaw you just tossed, you are going to be knocked sideways by the one that is hurtling toward you from another direction. Rather, keep your eyes affixed straight ahead, on the end game. It will keep you from getting dizzy, and your peripheral vision will allow you to remain aware of both the item you just launched, and the next one that is coming your direction.
Hand placement, how and where you connect with a project, is also key. Are you reaching out and grabbing the ball too early, or are you patient enough to wait for it land within your grasp. I’m not suggesting you don’t plan ahead. Remember, with your eyes centered on the right spot you see the item coming — you are preparing for it — but if you intervene too soon, you’re hands will be all over the place and you’ll lose your focus. Likewise, if you hold on too long, you just might launch the project in an unintended direction. Keep your hands patient on the grab, and prompt the release.
It really is all about the rhythm . . . and not letting stress, fear, or someone else’s agenda pull you out of sync. Trust the process. Yes, the swords you are tossing can draw blood, the glass balls can break and the fire on that torch can burn you. All the more reason to stick with what you know works . . . 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3. You know what it takes to function at your peak (food, sleep, exercise, wise counsel . . . it may be slightly different for each of us, but I’m guessing you know what you need.) It’s when we psych ourselves out and get out of our rhythm — when we think we don’t have time for the things that we know work — that this leadership gig gets dangerous.
Juggling is part of the job if you’re a leader. It may look dangerous from the stands, but if you focus on your eyes, your hands and your rhythm, you’ll master it in no time. Let the circus begin!