Crystal Balls and Rubber Balls

One of the decisions we all struggle with is how to balance our personal life with our business commitments.  How does one prioritize between events from each, and ultimately, how does one decide when to miss an event at work for something at home or vice versa?  I recently heard Cynt Marshall, AVP & Chief Diversity Office at AT&T, discuss a great way to think about events in one’s personal life in order to decide how to prioritize the balance between work and home.

The technique is to classify personal life into crystal balls and rubber balls. Crystal balls shatter and never come back.  These are the events that you can’t see again – things like graduation, confirmation, the first time your child starts a game, your spouse getting a major award, etc.  Rubber balls can be (occasionally) dropped and they will bounce back.  These are things like one of fifteen soccer games in a season, the trip to six flags, etc.

The prioritization process is to determine if the event is a crystal ball or a rubber ball.  If it is a crystal ball then your personal life takes priority in the work life balance.  If it is a rubber ball, and the business commitment is really important, then maybe the business commitment should take priority.   If you really think about it, there aren’t that many crystal balls in any one year, let alone those that conflict with an important business event.

So next time you are trying to determine how to balance competing priorities think about the ball, is it crystal or is it rubber, and act accordingly.

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2 Comments on “Crystal Balls and Rubber Balls”

  1. The challenge is understanding/balancing your personal breakdowns vs. the breakdowns of your spouse/children/friends, etc. Those don’t always line up.

  2. This is great! The challenge is balancing/understanding your own breakdown vs. those of your spouse/family, etc. Those don’t always line up.


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