How are your juggling skills?

By Daniel Bloch, Executive Director, Cape SAJBD

“Imagine life is a game in which you are juggling five balls. The balls are called work, family, health, friends, and integrity. And you’re keeping all of them in the air. But one day you finally come to understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. The other four balls…are made of glass. If you drop one of these, it will be irrevocably scuffed, nicked, perhaps even shattered,” American author, James Patterson. 

I like this quote as I can relate in some context; however, I find it to be slightly unbalanced – pardon the pun. Throughout both my personal and professional career, I have dropped the ball on several occasions and, unlike what Mr Patterson has said, nothing has shattered. If you are surrounded by people who support, trust and love you, there will always be an opportunity to bounce back.  

I have found the past few months to be the busiest and most challenging of my two-year tenure as Executive Director of the Cape SAJBD. In early April this year, our beloved Marais Road Shul President, David Gordon z”l, passed away and, as the current Vice-President of the Shul, I was thrust into a leadership role which, mentally, I was not prepared for, yet someone had to step up. Family life has also been extremely busy. April and May in particular were hectically busy with Pesach Seders, public holidays, school holidays and, more importantly, my birthday. All these days off and special occasions involved food, travelling up country, more food, socialising and, of course, even more food! In between these social events it was also important to see my friends, enjoy a game of tennis and a poker evening or two. 

How then, was I able to manage this juggling act and still keep my integrity intact? James Patterson alluded to integrity as one of the five balls and I could not understand why he chose this. After some soul searching, I discovered the answer. 

No matter how challenging a situation may become, one must always uphold strong moral principles and be honest not only with yourself, but with those with whom you engage. But how do you know which of these balls is more important than the others? Attending a work meeting with a colleague versus watching my daughter play netball? (I chose my daughter.) Poker night with the boys, or watch the football match instead? (Actually, for that one I did both and surprisingly still won 😊). Attending four evening work functions and not having dinner with my family – unfortunately there are weeks when that happens and it is part of the job. Despite the busy months, I feel like I avoided disaster and kept the peace, so to speak.

I would like to think that my integrity remains steadfast. The reason I have been able to juggle everything so perfectly is thanks to the support from the very people whom I need to be in balance with. I am blessed to have an incredible wife and amazing children who understand the pressures of work and support what I do. I engage with incredibly intelligent and community-driven lay and professional members at the Board who make the workload easier and I am part of a shul committee who have all jumped into the deep end with me.

So next time you feel like you are about to drop one of those balancing balls, remember: do not be afraid to ask for help and lean on the people closest to you for support. 

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• Published in the June 2023 issue – Click here to start reading.

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