The five balls of life revisited

So you're thinking: "Enough with the balance crap already."


I know, I know. This is the third time I've brought up the work-life balance THING -- probably because my gut tells me that we all need to be reminded every few weeks about how essential that balance really is.


We'll just call my re-visitation of the theme preventative maintenance.


 wipebook paperless office 5 balls of life


This anecdote includes a segment of a speech that former Coca-Cola CEO Brian G. Dyson gave in 1991. The recorded excerpt runs only about 30 seconds, but it's from a much longer discourse of over 1200 words. It addresses the "balls of life" -- work, family, friends, health and spirit.


So, an interesting thing happened the other day. While having dinner with my wife, she shared with me how awesome her day was. She had attended a board meeting and one of the members actually quoted Dyson's "incredibly inspirational" words. Here they are:


Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling some five balls in the air.

You name them work, family, health, friends and spirit.


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


They will never be the same.

You must understand that and strive for balance in your life. (Dyson, 1991).


wipebook paperless office family at the beach 


Dyson gives us simple, clear images that illustrate essential ideas we need to keep in mind in order to live life in a meaningful and healthy way.


First: Work is a rubber ball.

Jobs run their course. Bosses and mentors come and go. And our life-long presence in the workforce experiences ups and downs. Especially in today's and tomorrow's job economy, there are periods when our careers will take a plummet.


In fact, the rubber ball's trajectory represents both the periods in life when career opportunities take a dip and recover, AND the plasticity and flexibility required from us to handle such situations. In other words: Over time, careers bounce back -- and so do we.


Second: The other parts of life are fragile. If you drop them, they don't bounce back. 


Family, friendships, health, and spirit are all delicate and precious parts of our lives that we must nurture over time. We need them all, and we must strive to find a way to integrate them into our routines -- even if it means cutting back on work from time to time or just plain taking a break.


So, when it comes to work, let things drop when you need to.


Cut back.


Take a break.


Accept the do-overs.


wipebook whiteboard notebook dry erase subject to issue 

Go with the flow.


Learn from mistakes.


But do whatever you need to do to keep the glass balls up in the air.


STUFF happens. And things change on a daily basis. Understand their fragility, and the need to balance family, friends, health, and spirit.


AND -- don't forget to BE the rubber ball.


Just say'in.




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