Multiple projects, spinning plates

by Lisa Rothstein on 06/22/2011

If you want a great metaphor for having multiple projects, take a look at this classic video from the old Ed Sullivan Show.


It’s a fun video , but there are a number of useful lessons for people with multiple projects on their plates. Note that the performer gets one plate spinning before he starts on another. A lot of us DaVincis try to get several plates to start spinning at once, and they never get enough momentum to keep going. This is a great metaphor for those of us who have multiple business ideas. Try getting one going so that it keeps spinning by itself, with only occasional attention from you, before launching another.

Also, he doesn’t let small failures discourage him or make his drop any other plates. He just keeps the ones spinning that are spinning, and restarts the others with a smile. How do you handle failures or mistakes? Your tolerance for these needs to be higher the more projects you take on — because more will go wrong.  It’s mathematical.

Our plate-spinning whiz also probably practiced quite a bit to get to this point. How many plates can you spin before you are out of your own league? Only you can judge this for yourself — by observing the results, and your own stress level. It doesn’t mean that you can’t get better or take on more with practice and experience. But it’s worthwhile to know your own plate-spinning limit before your life goes spinning out of control with all your multiple projects and goals.

It’s worth noting that a big part of the trick here is that he does it all alone. Are you playing the hero by excessive multi-tasking and not asking for help or delegating when you’ve got a lot on your plate? It may be good for your ego, and impress your friends, but it’s probably bad for your business or creative projects to have no support at all.

Activity: Assess the number of multiple projects you have going on right now. Are you keeping all or most of those plates spinning, and keeping your own balance or good humor in the process? Or is there a lot of breakage going on around you?  Can you — and should you —  get help to keep everything humming along? Or are there one or two things you might just as well let drop?

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Are you struggling with too many talents, skills, ideas? You may have The DaVinci Dilemma™! Find tools, fun quizzes, coaching, inspiration and solutions for multi-talented people at .



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