Eight life lessons learned from a juggler

I love being a public relations consultant for the past few decades, and have enjoyed representing New England’s largest and longest-running Renaissance Faire for the past five. Running your own PR firm can be fascinating, and we are required to keep all the “balls in the air” at all times. Just like a good juggler at the Faire, I’ve uncovered eight life lessons gleaned from observing master performers, including my favorite: the “grand finale” is a simple compilation of many smaller achievements.

Whether you are striking out pitching a story or creating a clever idea, or just need extra motivation for a personal goal, here are tips to keep our mind and energy focused on steps needed to achieve our goals.

1. Timing is everything. Enough said.

2. Applause energizes: create a “kudos file”

Early in my career, a mentor shared with me some advice: create a plain hanging file folder to collect all your positive emails, raves and kudos, job reviews, client congratulations and awards. When you need a boost or motivation, this is your go-to destination for quick and positive affirmation… a physical “you can do this!” reminder. Performers thrive on applause. Professionals need to create their own private applause track.

3. Restate your goals

From nun to nanny, no one mastered focus and juggling better than sweet and firm Maria Von Trapp. She had the right idea when she hit the reset button for her young and restless charges by singing, “Let’s start at the very beginning…” and clarified their shared goals. Make sure your objectives and strategies are clearly agreed upon with your client, put in writing, and adjusted when necessary.

4. “Ohm” your success with an affirmation, or mantra

This is personal.  Everyone has a catchphrase, mantra, or even photo or video that inspires them. Mine is “Make an impact, not an income.” Keep your mantra visible on your desk or computer desktop. Performers often get into a meditative state to get through an act(ion) without fail… or find their own way to focus.

5. Pack your stopwatch, compass and map

Trust your juggler’s trusty stopwatch (time management), your inner compass (instinct) to guide you, and your map (your plan) to give you the data and tools you need.

6. Data wins

Whether you use project management software, an app or spreadsheet, or a beautiful journal, analyzing your own patterns and “data” is key to achieving success. Notice when you seem to stall and when you get the best results. Even the act of recordkeeping makes you more mindful of your achievements’ predictors and patterns.

“A juggler intently focuses solely on the throws (the action), not the act of catching, to achieve their desired result.”

7. The evolution of large scale wins: baby steps

Behind the scenes, I watch master performers practice at every opportunity, fail often, ask for help from peers, and work tirelessly to combine small skills into larger tricks. Same goes for innovation in business: learn to love the process of failing, assessing, learning, receiving mentoring, and then focusing on how/why you succeeded. Master performers carefully craft their smaller skills into combinations, then pairing up combinations into a “grand finale” that wows the audience.  Or in other words, how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

8. Sometimes you just need to improvise

Life is unpredictable. Be ready to get creative and be curious about what is happening around you. “Chance favors the prepared mind,” according to famed scientist Louis Pasteur, and history is filled with serendipity stories.

Julie Dennehy, APR, is PRCG’s Mass./RI/NH affiliate and owner of Dennehy Public Relations, offering consumer PR services to local and national brands and events. Follow Julie @dennehypr and on Facebook.

Pictured: King Richard’s Faire PR rep Julie Dennehy, who speaks with the producers and media, and “Greenman” Mage, the hospitality ambassador who speaks with the trees and Mother Nature.

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