Recently, I attended the annual conference of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO), held in Baltimore, MD. I had the absolute pleasure of seeing and hearing the closing keynote speaker, Dan Thurmon. I first encountered Dan at the National Speakers Association (NSA) annual conference in Anaheim in July 2011, during which he was inducted into the NSA Hall of Fame. Dan is a performance artist and professional speaker who juggles, throws knives, and rides a unicycle on stage, all of which is very entertaining and exciting. Yet, his message is equally powerful. In fact, I was even more impressed with his ability to weave high-level content into his performance elements, which is not an easy accomplishment to pull off.
Dan’s keynote content was drawn from his latest book, Off Balance on Purpose. Two important meanings are intend ed. First, that we are most effective, productive and happy when embracing the “off balance” reality of life. And secondly, that we should intentionally choose to take action and initiate meaningful changes. While I have not read his book yet, I did love his message and the way he presented it to a group of productivity experts.
To be “productive” literally means to produce. Therefore, many of us tend to translate being productive to mean that we need to keep doing and going and producing, and all at the same time. However, this can cause a ton of stress in our lives and make the quality of what we are producing decrease. I am just as guilty of that as others. So it takes a brave person to realize that you can have it all, but just not at the same time!
As Dan was juggling, he explained to us that you must release one item in order to catch the ot her item. He is never actually holding more than one item that he is juggling at once! This was so powerful. It sometimes takes a visual exercise like this to snap us into realization.
In our own lives, we tend to want to do it all and right now. Yet, we then sacrifice the quality of our work, relationships, and life overall if we take on too much. We wind up doing a bunch of things at less than 100%, and then berate ourselves for not being able to keep up.
It takes a brave person to stop and say, “I can have it all… just not at the same time!” There is a time and a season for everything. Maybe this year is the year you work on your career transition. Maybe this month is the one to focus on cultivating a new hobby. Maybe this summer is the one when you (finally!) get organized. But if you try to get organized, embark on a career transition, and cultivate a new hobby all at the same time, while still juggling all of the other responsibilities in your life, you may fail miserably at all of them, or not enjoy any of them.
I admit that I am a go-getter! I like to stay busy, thrive on change, and am a life-long learner with an adventurous spirit. But I have had to make choices. I realize I cannot do everything, and certainly not at once. My Mom used to tease me that I should have been a cat, as it will take nine lives to do everything I want to do in this one life time. And that may be true. But I have much more awareness now that I can’t have it all at the same time, and I will drop a lot of balls I am juggling if I try to.
So I like Dan Thurmon’s message and plan to adopt it as my own. Juggle one thing at a time, continuing to release and catch, as you go. It is okay to be “off balance on purpose” in order to live a more fulfilling and, ironically, balanced life in the long run. Care to join me?