Scholars and theologians have been searching since the dawn of time to find an answer to the question that we all hope to discover, "What is the secret to a happy life?" Personally, I think Monty Python hit it right on the head in their movie, The Meaning of Life, but while simple in theory, implementation is where we all seem to screw it up. Since graduating from Ursuline High School 15 years ago (wow, that looks like a long time when you actually write it down), I have been trying to figure out how to manage everything that happens in life. And while my faith has helped guide me with the "golden rule," Jesus didn't have a wife, kids, and an iPhone with 24/7 contact to the world, although I guess he didn't need one with burning bushes and his father ALWAYS watching over his shoulder. But just as He taught and preached with parables, I have learned much over the past 10 years since entering the rat race that is the professional business world. And, as I speak to students across the country about marketing, technology and advice for their own careers, I always tell them that if they want a successful life, they have to learn how to juggle.
Juggling is an activity that takes concentration, practice, patience and, no matter how good you think you are at it, you can always add another item to the mix to add to the experience. For those of you who have never actually juggled before, I encourage you to try it. A word of warning: start with soft objects first rather than going straight to the knives and fire sticks. You and your health insurance will thank me for it. It is frustrating as hell but after long rain delays in the dugout from my baseball days, it not only helps pass the time but is soothing and somewhat relaxing in a way once you get the hang of it.
You see, as you go through your journey in this life, you are given, in my opinion, 4 balls that you have to juggle on a daily basis. These balls are the constants and while you may add more to the "act," these are the ones that will constantly be with you. The trick is not only finding a way to manage keeping all of these balls in the air but knowing what type of balls you are juggling. That's the catch to this juggling act. The four balls that you juggle on a daily basis are your Faith, your Family, your Friends and you Career. However, they aren't the same type of ball.
As we go through life, we are distracted by outside influences that get in the way of what defines us, makes us who we are and, at the end of the day, will always be there for us. Your faith, family and friends are those elements of your life that are and should always be the most important elements of your life. These elements are delicate and fragile, which is why they are balls made of glass. Your career is something that while it is important and can provide you with financial and personal securities; it is an element of your life that has other opportunities and ways to continue to grow. It is a variable that will always, well, bounce back. This ball is a tennis ball. Now, let's juggle.
When you begin to juggle all of these balls together, Faith, Family, Friends and Career, you start to find that at various points in your life, your attention begins to shift towards one of these more than the others. All of a sudden, the attention to the elements of your Career starts to take precedence over your Faith, Family and Friends. The concentration and attention that should be balanced for all four balls starts to diminish and before you know it, you drop a ball, or two, or three. We have all been in this scenario, including me. Mistakes are a good thing and are something that I always encourage my team members to not be afraid of making. Without mistakes, we can never learn the proper way to do something but there is a caveat to this. If you make a mistake, learn from it. If you make the same mistake twice, then we have an issue. The same is true with this juggling scenario.
When you drop the tennis ball with your career, it will always bounce back up to you. However, if you drop one of the glass balls, you might not be so lucky. You may drop it once and it may crack but because it is glass it may also shatter, leaving you with pieces that are impossible to put back together to it's original state. Your Faith, Family and Friends are the most important things in your life. It makes you who you are, defines your personality, the work ethic you bring to a job and the drive to be a success in your career. Once you drop one of those balls, you find yourself with a new job: putting back together the pieces of a relationship that may be something you will never be able to achieve.
I have been blessed to have been provided professional opportunities that have enabled me accomplish much in my short 10 years of "working." I can honestly say that with all the positions I have held, from Young & Rubicam Advertising to the Cleveland Cavaliers, I have not felt like I have truly worked a day in my life. It has been fun, exciting and encounters that have made me a better person. To this day, as the VP of Marketing at Phizzle, a team that is my home away from home, I know this "family" is focused on a common business goal and we are all willing to make the appropriate sacrifices to make our corporate vision happen. Even in this instance, it is easy to forget about the other balls hanging in the air. Unlike actual juggling, this "act" has not gotten easier. However, making it through life without breaking one of those glass balls is a secret that I feel will deliver happiness and success in any career that bounces your way.