“Managing multiple priorities to produce sustainable success utilizing a creative problem-solving model tied to point-of-need learning which firmly establishes, for purposes of empowerment, a virtual core-competency to reduce cycle time in the client/server network.”The Juggling MATRIX Logo

There it is folks: the definition of The Juggling MATRIX.

The key question is: What will The Juggling MATRIX do for you in your business and personal life?

To answer that, I ask you to keep 3 balls near you while you read this post. Tennis balls are fine (filled with bird seed or pebbles to give them some weight); juggling balls if you have them.

As I said in a previous post, The Juggling MATRIX is a physical metaphor that has the power to move a person quickly towards attaining their goals: in life, on a project, in business, in your relationships, at work.

Let’s examine each phrase in our definition so you can understand what Juggling can actually do for you.

“MANAGING MULTIPLE PRIORITIES…” Grab the three balls: put two in one hand, one in the other. The goal is to toss these balls in a ‘juggling’ pattern to keep them in the air seamlessly, using just the right amount of effort. How do you accomplish that goal? The way you reach any goal: determine the steps it will take to reach it, prioritize each step, implement each prioritized step, and then allow for adjustments along the way.

As you look at the balls in your hands, and you think about your goal, ask yourself:

What is my first (and possibly ‘highest’) priority?

  1. Is it the ball you throw first to start the pattern, or the third ball you throw to fit itself into the already established pattern?
  2. Or the ball you are trying to catch, or the ball you are trying to throw?
  3. Is it the ball in the middle at the highest point of the pattern, or the ball that is falling too fast, that you are about to drop if something doesn’t change quickly?
  4. Or the ball that fell short of its first goal in the pattern, and now has affected the path of the second ball in the pattern, and has now prevented you from tossing the third ball at all?

Or are you just staring at all the balls in your hands and looking at the sky, stuck in your tracks, unsure which ball gets the priority – and taking no action at all?juggling matrix man

Sound a bit like your life right now? Or last year? Or always.

How we manage these multiple priorities determines how well we succeed in reaching our goals.

Re-read the above paragraph about “MANAGING MULTIPLE PRIORITIES…” but this time in two different contexts: the first is in terms of your business life; the second time re-read it, and apply it to your personal life. Please do it. Don’t skip ahead.

Two things may be painfully clear at this point:

1) You don’t give a damn about Juggling…it isn’t your thing and you don’t need a lecture to manage your life (thank you, very much!), and/or

2) You understand the metaphor but you just can’t juggle.

Good news: No need to get a lecture or learn how to juggle to have The Juggling MATRIX be of use to you. The fact is you can pick any physical ability and apply the same principles to it: golf, football, shuffle-board, darts, chess, writing music, learning to tie knots. I use ‘juggling’ because I know it the best…inside out…outside in…sideways…and diagonally, too…and I use it because it is most accessible activity to work with while standing at your desk, in your living room, in your office. All you need is three balls and an open mind.

Here is what I have learned in over 40 years of studying the art and science of juggling, teaching it to thousands of people, and mastering the skill:

each ball represents a different priority in your life/business, and everyone approaches the skill of managing the balls differently (actually, in 4 different ways – more on that in a future post)…and

absolutely ANYONE CAN LEARN TO JUGGLE – you just have to give yourself permission to succeed (also the subject of a future post).

Let’s assume you have given yourself permission to succeed at accomplishing this goal…but getting the first ball up into the pattern is proving difficult…Let me assure you: there are at least 50 reasons why getting the first ball up into the pattern is fraught with difficulties.

The #1 reason you have not yet juggled: You have been concentrating on all the balls – not the framework.

Frankly, I misled you: I focused you on the balls without discussing the framework because that’s how I prefer to approach goals (more on Preferred Learning Styles in a separate post). But it’s not the most efficient way: the most efficient way to get ALL the balls in the air within a reasonable amount of time (and with the least amount of anxiety and stress) is to establish a framework within which the balls operate (i.e., managing the multiple priorities). That framework is called The Juggling Box. In management consulting it is called an Operating System or a Quality Management System. I prefer The The Juggling BoxJuggling Box.

Think of The Juggling Box as a 3-D, transparent sheet of graph paper customized to fit your body. It extends from your waistline to about six inches over your head. It is as wide as your shoulders and positioned right in front of your body. The distance of your elbows to the tips of your fingers when your arms are bent at your waist. The Juggling Box has a top, bottom and two sides. It also has a terrific feature: four corners, two of which are extremely important…the top two (see the illustration). Each ball = a priority, or a step toward accomplishing your goal. Each ball will travel along its own path, establishing its parameters in that path that will allow it to intersect, but not interfere, with the path of the other priorities (balls).

But no one ball operates in a static environment within The Juggling Box. Since this is a dynamic operating system, you will need tools to make changes to your process in nano-second time.

Sound like fun? Read on to Part II…


Carlo Pellegrini is a keynote speaker at conferences, meetings and special events. He created The Juggling MATRIX 19 years ago as an advertising executive. This story will be told later. Carlo lives in Nyack, NY, with his wife, an aerialist in the circus. He teaches private classes at her circus arts school in Westchester County. Carlo can be reached at jugglingmatrix@gmail.com.