Can You Differentiate Between Your Rubber Balls and Glass Balls?

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Yesterday, I attended the first session in a series of Emerging Leaders seminars hosted by the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce. The session was hosted by Charleston Chamber President Bryan Derreberry, and focused on overall leadership principles: What separates good leaders from great leaders? How can busy entrepreneurs improve our “margin” to be leaders at home, at work and in our communities? How can we be better leaders whether we’re high or low on the seniority totem pole at our respective companies?

One of the great stories I took away from session was told by Bryan regarding a former colleague who found herself having to choose between spending time with her ill father and having lunch with then-President Clinton. A mentor told her this: “In life we have rubber balls and we have glass balls. We can drop rubber balls. We can’t drop the glass ones. Figure out what your glass balls are and make sure you don’t drop them.”

As such, she spent a wonderful two weeks with her father and bypassed the lunch with President Clinton.

It’s a great story and goes to the heart of the importance of having core values that guide our personal and professional lives. As Bryan put it, we should come up with an “core ingredients dashboard” for our personal and professional lives. What are those core values, the core goals that are essential? The rubber balls likely won’t make it into that dashboard — but the glass balls should absolutely be included.

The session with Bryan came at a time when I’m also working with great strategic consultant Tom Leonard on putting together a strategic plan for my companies. It’s led us to refocus our vision — and we are working now to determine those core values that will guide the future of my company. These core values will help me determine the rubber from the glass balls. They will help me determine the clients I want to work with versus those that don’t fit our value system.  (We’re still in the process of finalizing these values — so I will expand on them in a future post.)

What are your core ingredients for your personal and professional lives? Can you determine the difference between the rubber balls and the glass balls?

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