|Juggling in front of a big window atop the Hancock Tower in Chicago.
The above philosophy does not come naturally to me. From about ages 16-37, I struggled with fairly significant bouts of burn-out: my effectiveness to my various responsibilities often diminished due to being spread too thin, and it took genuine crises in my life to have the courage to drop one or more activities that were burdens on my schedule and well-being. So, I’m not merely giving intellectual assent to the wisdom of a simplified lifestyle; I’ve learned through trials that even a man of my energy level needs boundaries and is most effective when doing fewer things well.
Here at JH, we specialize in three basic areas: youth mentorship, juggling, and performing. Outside our regular clubs & camps, we essentially only have three events involving the whole company: Jingle Jam, the Winter Showcase, and Juggle Jam. But even with such a seemingly simple schedule, even one day a week for the average Jughead can make a big difference in their sense of accomplishment, connection, community, and accumulated skills.
At the most involved end of our member spectrum, some student leaders immerse in virtually every event, gig, camp, and bonus volunteering days, making this their main extra-curricular focus. On the surface this may seem imbalanced, but their choice to become resident experts streamlines their schedule and offers lasting benefits. The track record of many JH grads having successful collegiate and professional careers indicates that their choice to specialize, rather than do too many things half-way, pays off.
Just like a page needs margins and a runner needs rest, a life needs to breathe. And while the Type-A achiever in me seems at odds with the guy longing to just stare out the window, I’ll keep a handle on my commitments, and how our JH clubs are structured, so we can have moments of levity, laughter, and time for just being lest we be overly defined by our doing. As I’ve said before, balance is key, and sometimes it takes just as much faith to give things up as it does to take things on.