The Tent Flap Holder

Because Juggling Elephants is a parable about the circus, we sometimes get people who see things differently. After speaking on the concept for almost 6 years, we are frequently surprised by how people bring new insights and applications to a training program.

A couple of weeks ago while working on the section entitled, "Be The Ringmaster" one participant pointed out that they didn't see themselves as the Ringmaster. Instead they saw themselves as the person who holds the tent flap open and is yelling for the acts to get in line and be ready. While it provided a good chuckle, it also brought a new perspective to what we need to do to insure the right tasks get into our schedule.

In honor of this new thought, here are some things to keep in mind if you feel more like the "tent flap holder" instead of a ringmaster:

  • You can only hold the tent flap open for a period of time-and then you need a break (an intermission no less).
  • Sometimes you need help holding the flaps open wide enough so the act can get into the circus (teamwork and delegation)
  • If there are too many acts waiting to enter the rings, you may need to close the tent flaps to keep down the noise level and to not distract from the acts that are performing.
  • Occasionally, you may have to "go get" an act that forgot to make it's way to the tent. In those instances you need to have someone else that can take your place while you are gone (cross training and succession planning).
What new analogy do you have about how the circus or its performers relate to our workplace performance or personal success? Comment on this blog or send your thoughts to