Definitely not me at my best…my plate-spinning self.  Sometimes, borne of necessity we find ourselves doing too much at once and the more I think about my choices, I realize I am my own worst enemy.  Most tasks do not need to be accomplished in Herculean, super-human style.  I choose, very often, if I’m honest, to test my limits and load up my plate…and then add more plates and before you know it, I’m the plate spinner and I’m not happy.  I don’t like to see things roll off, fall off or crash and burn.  And they do.

So, welcome to a Thursday morning session of Self-Talk with Vicki 😊.  No admission fee and you’re free to leave…but if you linger, I promise a chuckle or two, at my expense.  Never yours. 

Other than my chronic failures as a juggler, the inspiration for this noodling comes from my friend Kendra and her blog, “An Audience of One”.  Kendra posted recently about whoopsie issues where she candidly made a few honest, relatable mistakes.  So relatable that I think it’s time for me to come clean. Take a look at her post…you’ll enjoy it, especially the part about sharing her screen in a meeting.

Here’s my story…my confession.  I should know better because I’ve done this more than once but the most glaring example was in a professional setting where the stakes were high. The issue was student conduct related on a college campus and my hearty team and I were rallying at light speed for safety reasons.  (Still, that’s not an excuse for poor execution on my part.)

The venue isn’t important to the story – just think of any urgent situation you’ve been involved in and swap out my details.  A common denominator, though? Good teams practice and conduct drills, in advance, to be diligently prepared.  We did many, many ‘tabletop’ simulations and involved stakeholders at all levels within the campus community. If everyone stayed in position, ready to do their part, we were as prepared as we could be.  Maybe I got comfortable? I don’t want to share all the details for privacy reasons, but maybe one day over a cup of coffee, I’ll fill you in. 

The good news?  There were no life-threatening injuries and the person of concern was successfully transported to a local hospital.  To get to that point, however, substantial sweat and adrenaline were required…and multiple conference calls on land lines, cell phone group chats and team site messages.  So many touchpoints, but they’re necessary.

The incident in question was nearly under control but one player – one very key player, Jim (not his real name) was out of position and incommunicado.  He didn’t respond on his cell, ghosted me on teams and when I asked, no one had heard from him.

A few of us paused in a meeting room and tried an old-school conference call…and since Jim was the one we were trying to locate, it never occurred to me that he might be on the other end of the call.  Note to self…forever and ever, amen:  Victoria:  Never open your mouth – especially if a rant is bubbling up – unless a roll call’s been done first.  Know who’s there.  Did I do that in this instance?  No ma’am and no sir.

Before anyone could get a word in edgewise or sideways, I barreled forward – and I was mad.  I could’ve said it more delicately.  Something like, “Hey – has anyone connected with Jim?”  Of course, I didn’t do that.  My delivery was more like this: “Bloody hell – where is JIM??? In addition to everything else we’re managing, we need to send out a search party for him!?”

I think my actual delivery was less venomous, but I know the tone was bad and the “bloody hell” part was for real.  I was honked off and everyone who knows me could hear it, picking up on the take-no-prisoners tone that’s my trademark blend of angry mom and overwrought teacher.  Still, I carried on, starting a fresh rant when a quiet voice, on the call from the conference room across campus, interrupted and said, “Vicki – umm…you might not know this, but Jim…Jim’s right here.”

Egg on face.  Actually, a whole omelet…maybe a frittata.  I felt terrible, embarrassed, and realized I’d just delivered an excellent portrayal of what NOT to do in a leadership position.  Communication at my worst.  The best I could do was respond, “Thank goodness, Jim – I’m sorry about my flash of anger.  I thought you’d gone AWOL on us. We’ll talk later…” and I tried to carry on but I felt about two inches tall.

Later that morning, as I licked my wounds a bit, I realized my lashing out at Jim, publicly, was a teachable moment – for me. I was trying to spin too many plates of my own, while managing a tense situation and could’ve delegated better, improved my own response…if I’d been more self-aware. I apologized to Jim again, and he acknowledged that he dropped the ball and should’ve been more responsive. Maybe so, but still.  I didn’t need to…as my dad would say…’show my ass’. 

And this concludes the Thursday morning installment of Self-Talk with Vicki. Don’t do what I do.  Do better and if you are prone to juggling, maybe spin fewer plates, if you can.

Vicki 😊

25 thoughts on “Plate Spinning

  1. This is just what I needed to read today. Not only am I spinning too many plates myself, but I’ve also been fixated on others’ spinning plates (not enough, too slow, and no fancy tricks!), all outside of my control. This is a great reminder to slow down, reflect, offer ourselves a bit of grace, and learn to laugh at ourselves after these types of high-stress situations.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh…I’m so happy to hear that…no wait…I don’t mean that, exactly – LOL! I’m sorry you’re spinning plates, yet happy that I’m not alone…and happy to hear my confession will help us both slow down. Grace is good — so is laughing at ourselves, eh? Sending hugs! 🥰

      Liked by 1 person

  2. When I first created my author website about 12 years ago, I wrote on the About Me page that I was a “job juggler”. It was absolutely true. I was juggling about 5 different jobs at the time–some necessary and a couple my choosing. For a while it worked and I enjoyed the challenge and stimulation. I tried to do everything. My focus was on productivity which is really a trap. Like you described, Vicki, I found myself short-tempered, frazzled, and often overwhelmed. Eventually, I burned out. Gradually I began to put a few plates back in the cupboard. Which was a great idea because even if you stop spinning plates, life will throw you another. Best to keep one hand free.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Oh my goodness….so many terrific nuggets in what you just shared, Evelyn…keeping one hand free? Yes! And the reminder that we can put a few plates back in the cupboard? I love that. Thanks much for sharing – and as always, for reading! Much appreciated. xo! 😘

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  3. First, thank you for the shout-out, Vicki. 🤍 Second, the really funny thing, which I’d wanted to say in my post, but never figured out how, was I’d gotten the idea for writing about my oopsies from you. It was after reading a comment where you accidentally called someone else Kendra (another thing I would TOTALLY do!!) and there was a funny conversation that ensued. The giggles I had over that inspired my post. So shout out back to you. 😆

    As to your today’s writing, oh my, I was with you all the way. Feeling the pressure and frustration! And I love, love, love the spinning plates analogy. I’ve never heard that, but it’s such a perfect description. The frustration, but knowing you’re the one who keeps adding plates – and more things to each plate? Exactly where I am right now, trying to juggle. Lastly, I loved how you apologized and recognized it as a learning moment. Such a fun post, but with great lessons as well! 🤍

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Love you, Kendra…and I love how our posts and thoughts blend and dovetail…it’s such a fun and unexpected perk of blogging. And YES — I remember my oops where I referred to EW as Kendra…perfect recollection on your part. That WAS a plate-spinning moment, responding to a comment while standing in line somewhere, not fully focused. And no thanks necessary for the shout out. Your post provided great inspiration to ‘tell on myself’. Hope your Thursday treats you well, my friend. Xo! 😘

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Right back at you, friend! And you telling on yourself provided us all kinds of good thoughts to ponder (no pun intended ☺️). Have a great day, Vicki! Hugs and love! 🤍

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Wait wait wait…you mean there is a choice to not test your limits and always work from the high side of capacity? Hmm. Who woulda thunk it?
    Seriously though, whatever you want to call it – plate spinning, bandwidth stretching, multi-tasking, giving 110%! – rarely ends well. Unfortunately, too many of us do not discovered that before we retire. [Sigh]

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh…I think you nailed it! What’s a “choice” and what’s not? Some things in life clearly are not…choices…but as you said, working at the ‘high side’ of capacity (I love that) isn’t a great place to be. Here’s to slowing down when we can, eh? Thanks, Michael! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, Ally Bean, Ally Bean. You have me laughing out loud…how did I know the frittata on the face would tickle you? If I could…I’d channel my inner Ally Bean every day. 😉 And good grief – yes – a friend asked me the other day if I’ll ever run out of blogging material, and I laughed and said “nope – every day I’m either doing stupid myself or I’m enjoying…as I point it out in others” Unlimited material! xoxoxo! 😉

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I’m laughing about the blogging material too. Good point, Ally! We will never run out!! Let’s just hope the supply doesn’t exceed the demand!

        Vicki — great story. Although I have to say from reading it, your tirade sounds pretty mild and spot on for the situation. But I love your honest, humility and self-awareness. Very good leadership qualities that I’m guessing Jim and everyone else were grateful for! XOXO!! ❤ ❤ ❤

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Oh…I don’t know about grateful but I’ve been pretty blessed in the “we love her anyway” scheme of things. 😉 Thanks much for your kind comment Wynne – and for laughing along about “endless material”. 😉❤️😉

          Liked by 1 person

      1. Same! No, you didn’t miss anything. It only is getting posted today. And now that I think about it, I’m not sure that I wrote about plate spinning in the same way that you and Kendra did, I think I interpreted things differently so maybe my comment does not even apply 😂😂

        Liked by 1 person

        1. No matter…even if it’s only remotely related, it’s another example of what a few of us keep finding…there are vibrations in the universe calling us to topics! It can’t JUST be coincidental! I look forward to reading! 😉😉😉

          Liked by 1 person

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