I used to flake off and daydream in most corporate training programs, but I’ve never forgotten the lesson I learnt from one speaker who likened life to juggling balls.
Obviously, the trick is to keep all the balls in the air at one time – work, family, health etc. But the important point he made was that some balls were rubber, but others were glass. Work is a rubber ball, if you drop it, it will bounce back, but others – like your health and family – are glass. If you drop them, they are difficult to recover.
This week I have to drop the work ball – and I hope it will bounce back.
I am writing this en-route to London from Melbourne. I have called short a three-week business trip to go home to my Mum. No, not because I needed a cuddle, but because she has been hospitalised. I won’t share too much here, but it’s her heart, and it’s not good.
With three businesses (two of which are on the other side of the planet), two beautiful sons and a busy husband, my scheduling capability and mental bandwidth do get stretched… but I like it that way. The only catch is – when things come unstuck – they really come unstuck – and have a big ripple effect across my family and business – such is the case this week where I have to cancel and re-schedule around 15 meetings and presentations with some of Australia’s best and brightest procurement professionals.
Before I even left for this trip, I was fretting about leaving my already-sick mother and two boys for three weeks (especially during the school holidays). My husband went into coaching mode and basically told me to “man-up” and commit myself to the business trip. He would be fine. The boys would be fine. Mum would be fine. Just go.
So let me tell you how good things were going before they came unstuck.
I hit Singapore with a bang and was thoroughly inspired and energised by the debate around the first CPO Asia Roundtable. I had some great discussions with some long-term clients and Austrade. Unfortunately, meanwhile at home my husband inadvertently gave the whole family food poisoning by cooking some out-of-date sausages. Everyone was down for the count, including the babysitter, which meant that my husband had to take his first-ever sick day off work. Not good… but, then again, nobody was seriously injured.
Next stop was Brisbane – I met with some of our long-term clients, had dinner with the Brisbane Roundtable. Sydney was next – presentations to two procurement teams, fruitful discussions with clients. Tick. Meanwhile at home, a whole series of appointments (that had dutifully been put in my husband’s outlook calendar) had been missed… maths tutoring, dinner with friends, the list went on. Once again, not good, but, once again – nobody was seriously injured.
By now you’ve probably worked out that my husband is an absolute gem. And although I’ve just teased him here, and in my speeches on social media where I refer to him as the “pale stale male who doesn’t want to be poked or linked and doesn’t give a Tweet”, he is, in fact, the epitome of the ideal modern man.
He helps carry the domestic load and he is actively involved in our son’s lives.
Let’s face it – managing work-life balance is not an exact science – it’s a daily, weekly, monthly pursuit of excellence… well maybe in my case… definitely a case of juggling balls. And my husband is right there beside me.
So when the phone rang at the end of The Faculty’s two day strategy session and it was my husband telling me how he’d helped my mother when she thought she was having a heart attack and they were on their way to the hospital with my two boys in tow… I knew that I had to be with them.
I want to thank everyone who made time in his or her diaries to meet with me this week, quickly followed by an apology for any inconvenience I have caused by heading home to London.
I also want to thank Euan and Jordan in the Procurious team in Europe for their mastery in speech and PowerPoint, not to mention Marisa and Max for co-ordinating the visit. All your work will not be in vain!
It’s about an hour until we land at Heathrow. I can’t wait to see Mum. I want to be there to catch the glass ball before it hits the ground. I know I will.
Post-script – I’m home, she’s fine, procedure on Tuesday and hopefully she’ll be as good as new.
Post-post-script – If you’d like to see what I have to say on using Social Media to win the War on Talent (delivering this speech was on the agenda for my Australia trip too!)
– see below