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a blog by Chris Barrow

Spinning plates

It's a classic circus act (originating, some suggest, in China and as long ago as the 3rd Century of the modern era).

The performer adds more plates as he tries to keep the existing plates spinning at the top of their sticks.

Everything wobbles, he skirts with disaster, the audience shriek warnings as individual plates start to slow.

(Factoid: world record - 108 plates - The Great Davido)

The modern day metaphor with the responsibilities of management and leadership simply grows more appropriate.

In fact, the inspiration for this post came from a number of emails received over the weekend from Owners and Managers around the country, more than one of whom mentioned "spinning plates" as we approach the extended holiday weekend.

"How am I going to get all of this done by Thursday night?"

"I'm determined not to take stuff home for the weekend. I need to spend time with my family."

"I'm exhausted and I need a break."

The most poignant question from a client in our Owner's WhatsApp Group last week:

"Any tips on how do you lead a team when you have 0 left in the tank?"

I was delighted that so many other clients reached out in response to that post to commiserate, identify with and offer ideas.

We can spin plates - the circus performers prove that - but the act lasts no more than 5 minutes and the final row of plates is applauded for just a few seconds before it all comes down.

Permanently spinning - no - it cannot be done.

So go easy on yourself - manage your own expectations as well as those of others and, most importantly, learn to say "no".

I'm finishing work this evening until next Tuesday - I'm taking a break, getting some SNEF:

  • Sleep

  • Nutrition

  • Exercise

  • Fun

And I suggest you do the same - the blog will be back next week.

Just to prove it can be done - here's 5-minutes of Erich Brenn on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1969.

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