By Bruce Rosenstein
September 22, 2003
Many of us talk about juggling more than one job or task. Michael Gelb does real juggling — as in balls in the air.
What’s more, he takes his act on the road to businesses. And he’s written a book about it.
“Juggling practice will focus and calm your mind as it enlivens and balances your body,” Gelb writes in his short and fun More Balls Than Hands: Juggling Your Way to Success by Learning to Love Your Mistakes.
In 134 pages, you, too, can learn to juggle from Gelb, a master of the mind-body connection.
It doesn’t matter what type of employee or organization is trying to learn juggling. “I’ve shared the juggling metaphor, and taught juggling, to engineers from BP, IBM and DuPont, Ph.D.’s and M.D.’s from Merck, Pfizer and Astra-Zeneca, software designers from Microsoft, H-P and Lucent, and accountants and strategists from KPMG, Goldman Sachs and the Liechtenstein Global Trust,” Gelb says.
“Although cultures manifest differently on the continuum from the physical to the cerebral, everyone seems to be able to relate to this playful, light-hearted way to consider important, serious issues like learning from mistakes and overcoming resistance to learning and change.”
He provides step-by-step juggling instructions, beginning with getting the feel of one ball, moving on to two, then three.
The final two chapters deal with advanced juggling and juggling with partners.
A key when first learning Gelb’s method: After throwing the balls to the top of an imaginary “juggler’s box” about six inches above your head, let each ball drop. This shows you where the balls should land and also puts the emphasis on the throw.
He says we’re born with a “catching reflex” that makes the catching part come easily.
Before you juggle, monitor your breathing — a typical problem is holding your breath and tensing your body — and tap into your natural poise.
“The 5 Keys to High Performance Learning” make this book more valuable to your work, whether you are a manager or even a good juggler:
1. Activate your brain’s success mechanism: Use tools like creative visualization, but remember: “Distinguish between fantasy and visualization. … A fantasy does not require conscious attention, and it is not as focused or energizing as a visualization.”
2. Transform your attitude toward mistakes and failure: Don’t view them as roadblocks. They’re really guides to learning. Try to look on them with some affection rather than fear.
3. Unleash your natural genius through the power of play: Give yourself permission to have fun. … It worked for Albert Einstein.
4. Achieve more with less effort by cultivating relaxed concentration: Sometimes trying or working harder is counterproductive.
5. Develop your coaching skills so you can bring out the best in people at work and at home: Access, as they say in Zen, your “beginner’s mind.” Demonstrate a belief in the ability of others that changes their lives.