Spinning Plates: An Appreciation Message to Involved Leaders

There’s a magic act that features poles and plates that deserves more recognition than it is given. For a solid two minutes, one magician manages to balance eight or so plates spinning on a half-inch pole. Starting one-by-one, the magician spins all eight simultaneously until the end of the act. While there might not be deception or misdirection involved, this act is truly magic; rather, the way this act relates to life and leadership is magic.

Many leaders have an innate drive to better themselves and their surroundings. They seek efficiency to maximize their impact, and they apply this to all areas of their lives. Because of this, it is not uncommon for leaders to be involved in multiple activities or organizations in order to help them develop well-rounded leadership skills and experiences. Thus the term “over-involved” enters the picture.

Being over-involved is a concept many leaders relate to, and it is in no way a weakness, but rather a learning opportunity on balance and time-management. Because of this, it isn’t unusual to find those leaders joining clubs, being initiated into groups, serving communities, and leading with and without titles. Thus, a leader starts one plate spinning, and before long that one goes up to two, five, eight, and so on, adding plates for every activity, hobby, leadership position, and promise. Then plates are added for maintaining friendships, spending time with family, keeping up with school work, and maybe even working a job. Eventually there are twenty or thirty plates spinning at one time, needing to be tended to and kept spinning. With all of this on one person’s plate, that person might be performing quite the balancing act.

Spinning plates is tiring. It’s time consuming, energy draining, and flat out difficult. A leader will do everything in their power to spin them all, yet sometimes plates will fall. However, a leader’s failure and their ability to manage their balancing act is what defines their character and provides the deepest of lessons. Plates may break, but a talented leader will live and learn from those shortcomings and roadblocks by finding their weaknesses and growing from them.

To all the over involved leaders out there: continue to work hard to find the perfect balance. You will learn a great deal about yourself, your abilities, and your strengths. It will take time, patience, and practice. But, combine a determined attitude and the desire to persevere, and you will truly have an unforgettable act.

From one over-involved leader to another,

Emily Ruebelman