Dropping balls has a bad rep. Football, business, life… "That guy drops a lot of balls" equals "He's unreliable". Understandably since we all learn to filter our friends and associates by their reliability. Do they answer email? Do they return calls? Do they show up?
But I believe there is value in dropping balls.
First, let's accept that we have limited time and focus. Our minds are like the RAM on computers, we can only hold so many things concurrently. Once we start to reach that capacity we slow down. Our stress levels shoot up and our effectiveness decreases. But we don't want to look unreliable so we continue to run at capacity.
So here we are juggling all these balls and it's wearing us out. But there's a solution. Start dropping balls.
This starts with identifying what's important, not kinda important but really important. Then starting dropping…
In my experience, one of three things will happen to a dropped ball:
1. It will break and essentially cease to exist. This could be a project you have been dragging out for months and needs to be let go.
2. It will fall, get damaged and someone will jump in to help. This could be an event you are planning and need help executing but struggling finding people to help. Essentially you are allowing the event to be wounded in order to save it. Think of a wounded bird compared to one that appears healthy- which one is more likely to get help?
3. Someone will catch the ball before it hits the ground. Imagine you have numerous deadlines converging and feel underwater. Instead of killing yourself you can let others jump in to help carry the load.
Letting go is a scary thing, I get that and still struggle with it after years of practice. But consider this, you build up others when you let go. It may be a messy way to delegate but I have seen, time after time, that there are always people waiting for an opportunity to jump in and help. It creates meaning for them. So to all my crazy busy friends out there, let some balls drop and give others a chance to run with them.