We all have the same gift of time in life, yet some people get more things done and are more successful than others. Do you wonder why?
The simple answer is this: They’re just better jugglers.
Picture a juggler with many balls in the air. When you look closely, you can see some of their balls are rubber, but some are made of glass.
That juggler knows if he were to miss a rubber ball, it wouldn’t be the end of the world—the rubber ball will bounce. The juggler can pick it back up again.
However, if he misses a glass ball, it will not bounce. It’ll break and be lost for good.
A skilled juggler focuses on the glass balls.
In work and life, however, we often focus on the rubber balls. These are the tasks or projects that, while they may be important, they’re easier to accomplish and not necessarily critical. Spending time working on “rubber ball tasks,” we become “sloppy busy,” feeling productive, even when we’re not.
To get more done, we need to focus our time and energy on things of critical importance: the glass balls. If we get distracted by the rubber balls, the chances increase that we’ll miss a glass ball, which will cause a much bigger problem.
Often, it’s not a question of knowledge; we know what tasks and projects are truly critical. Yet we avoid them because they are not easy. As a coach of mine used to say during a hard practice, “If it were easy, everyone would do it!”
Here are the three things causing us to avoid what is critical in our lives keep us from focusing on those “glass balls” that we absolutely cannot drop, and tips to get past them.
1. Hard Conversations
Paying attention to what’s most critical in our lives will often require having hard conversations with others. We dread those conversations because we’re uncertain how the other person will react.
Yet no one benefits when you put these conversations off.
TIP: Accept that the talk may or may not go well. But in having the conversation, you will have started the process toward a resolution, making things easier next time.
For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. (2 Timothy 1:7)
2. Fear of Failure
We procrastinate, waiting for the perfect time or conditions, often because we don’t want to fail or face criticism. We seek perfection in an imperfect world, not understanding that failure is unavoidable.
In every failure there is a valuable life lesson. You don’t have to be afraid.
TIP: It’s better to be 80% ready—moving forward and making adjustments as needed—than waiting to be 100% ready. That day will never come.
If you wait for perfect conditions, you will never get anything done. (Ecclesiastes 11:4 TLB)
3. Accepting the Status Quo
Focusing on a critical issue will upset the status quo, making it either better or worse. Things will not be the same, we assume the worst and that scares us into staying where we are. We often prefer “the devil we know” instead of seeking something better.
TIP: Focus your energy on how things could be better by addressing the issue instead of the pain of change.
But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead… Philippians 3:13
Keep on juggling. Remember, it’s okay to drop the rubber balls. Instead, focus on the glass balls!