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Juggling Elephants: An Easier Way to Get Your Most Important Things Done--Now! [Hardcover]

Jones Loflin , Todd Musig
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Sept. 11 2007
What do you do when your life feels as busy as a three-ring circus?

Juggling Elephants tells a simple but profound story about one man with a universal problem. Mark has too much to do, too many priorities, too much stress, and too little time.

As he struggles to balance his many responsibilities without cracking under the pressure, Mark takes a break to attend the circus with his family. There he has a surprising conversation with a wise ringmaster. He leaves with a simple but powerful lesson: Trying to get everything done is like juggling elephants -- impossible.

So Mark begins to think about his work, family, and personal life the way a ringmaster thinks about the many acts in a three-ring circus. He discovers that managing his various acts can be fun and easy once he changes his attitude and follows his new friend?s ongoing guidance. Mark soon realizes:
? If you keep trying to juggle elephants, no one, including you, will be thrilled with your performance.
? A ringmaster cannot be in all three rings at once.
? The key to the success of a circus is having quality acts in all three rings.
? Intermission is an essential part of any good circus.

Juggling Elephants is a wonderfully lighthearted guide for everyone who feels like they?re about to be squashed. It will help you better focus your time and energy, so you?ll be able to enjoy more of the things that are important to you. Above all, it will teach you how to run your circus, instead of letting the circus run you.


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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

In this fun parable written by corporate trainers Loflin and Musig, the hero, Mark, gets more than just an afternoon of family time out of a visit to the circus with his daughter—he gets a new way of organizing his life. Using the extended metaphor of the three-ring circus, this short volume is written as a dialogue between Mark and his ringmaster mentor, who teaches him how to better coordinate the activities happening in each ring. Readers who take themselves too seriously might have trouble getting past the large print, circus illustrations and a dialogue style more commonly found in children's books. But the book passes along several circus maxims that easily translate to balancing professional and personal relationships as well as one's personal pursuits, such as the ringmaster cannot be in all three rings at once and the key to the success of the circus is having quality acts in all three rings. While the advice is not new, the presentation helps it stick in your head, increasing the odds of keeping your act together. (Sept. 6)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Jones Loflin is an internationally recognized speaker and corporate trainer. He has helped many companies deal with change more effectively with concepts from the bestselling book Who Moved My Cheese? Todd Musig has over twenty years' experience in business development, leadership, training and marketing. He is the CEO of Previdence Corporations. www.jugglingelephants.com --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
Mark smiled. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars A Light Act To Juggle Jan. 10 2009
By Glenn Simon Inc TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
To continue with the circus metaphor, this book was a pretty light act to juggle. I like a story that is quick and to the point- especially if the message is valuable.

This book is a whopping 144 pages (including the blank ones- and there's lots of them) of BIG text. Essentially the message is: pretend you are the ringmaster of your own circus (meaning life). Divide your three most important 'shows' into three rings. Focus only on one ring at a time.

That's it more or less. It's a good, cute book that you should buy used/new and spend about $7 bucks on. The story is simple and easy to understand but don't expect much detail.

If you're looking for something more, check out Brian Tracy 'Eat That Frog' or 'Getting Things Done' by David Allen - the latter which is almost too much detail.

Todd Millar, Glenn Simon Inc.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Actually, 3.5 Stars Jan. 18 2008
By Robert Morris HALL OF FAME TOP 10 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
Jones Loflin and Todd Musig assert (and I agree) that with regard to achieving and then maintaining "balance" in one's life, the objective should not be to balance everything; rather, to balance only what is most important. Theirs is a modern fable about a situation in which Mark, the protagonist, struggles without much success in three areas: his career, his relationships (as husband, father, colleague, and friend), and his personal development (e.g. he is overweight, has no recreation). Then one day, he reluctantly takes his wife and daughter to a circus, engages in a conversation with an off-duty ringmaster (Victor) from another circus, and then....

The extended metaphor (i.e. life is a circus) is very clever. It creates all manner of opportunities to correlate components of a circus with counterparts in one's career and personal life (i.e. the need for preparation, order and structure, division of labor, mutual trust and respect, effective supervision and coordination, timing, proper execution, teamwork, and yes, balance). The narrative (or plot) introduces the main characters, explains the situation, introduces conflicts that create tension and engage the reader's interest, and proceeds from one development to the next until the climax occurs.

I realize that comparisons and contrasts are sometimes unfair but, that said, Aesop and Jean de La Fontaine, then George Orwell and E.B. White, have demonstrated how effectively a fable can dramatize wisdom that is both eternal and universal. More recently, Stephen Denning and Patrick Lencioni have written fables that extend that tradition within the contemporary business world. Together, classic and contemporary fabulists have set the standards by which Loflin and Musig should be measured.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  33 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Getting Your Act Together Sept. 6 2007
By Miranda N. Brothers - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
With a heartwarming approach to the all too common problem of how to manage a hectic life, Jones Loflin and Todd Musig have successfully collaborated to present a workable solution in their easy to digest and retain, Juggling Elephants. Recognizing that sometimes life is like a circus, the authors offer the memorable story of Mark who, using the three ring circus analogy, rediscovers his family, free time, and in the end, himself, again.
This gem, with its rejuvenating story, likable characters, and attractive presentation, culminate in, what I am sure will be, a much respected and well utilized tool across both the professional and personal realms and adopted as a "must read" throughout the business spectrum.
Kudos to Loflin and Musig for their creative solution and efforts to help others succeed in life.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ever think your life is a 3 ring circus? Here is a way to become your own ringmaster. Sept. 15 2007
By Craig Matteson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I think that these kinds of business parables sell well to a certain audience because the images are so easy to remember and are fun to visualize. It doesn't matter that they always seem to follow a the pattern of someone being out of control in some aspect of the business, their life, or whatever and they meet some mysterious stranger who gives them the KEY that solves their problem and gets their life back in order.

This story is about a man whose daughter comes to him with her life in disarray. She can't manage her work life, her family life, and her personal life. He talks with her about how going to the circus with her helped him with the same problem. We often refer to something in a crazy and disordered state as a three-ring circus. However, a circus is really a very ordered system of acts. This is often NOT true of our lives.

The title of the book refers to the situation when we are out of control. Trying to juggle elephants doesn't help anyone. You can't do it, the elephants aren't having any fun, and the audience isn't enjoying an act going nowhere. So, Victor, a ringmaster Mark (the dad) happens to meet guides him through the steps of becoming the ring master of his life and the three rings being Work, Family, and Self. The ideas presented are really quite good and the images are memorable. If you are already in complete control of your life, you probably don't need this book. However, most of us could use some time thinking about these issues and this is a pretty painless to entertaining way of considering what it takes to get the right acts on stage when.

A simple, helpful little book.

Reviewed by Craig Matteson, Ann Arbor, MI
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Actually, 3.5 Stars Sept. 6 2007
By Robert Morris - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Jones Loflin and Todd Musig assert (and I agree) that with regard to achieving and then maintaining "balance" in one's life, the objective should not be to balance everything; rather, to balance only what is most important. Theirs is a modern fable about a situation in which Mark, the protagonist, struggles without much success in three areas: his career, his relationships (as husband, father, colleague, and friend), and his personal development (e.g. he is overweight, has no recreation). Then one day, he reluctantly takes his wife and daughter to a circus, engages in a conversation with an off-duty ringmaster (Victor) from another circus, and then....

The extended metaphor (i.e. life is a circus) is very clever. It creates all manner of opportunities to correlate components of a circus with counterparts in one's career and personal life (i.e. the need for preparation, order and structure, division of labor, mutual trust and respect, effective supervision and coordination, timing, proper execution, teamwork, and yes, balance). The narrative (or plot) introduces the main characters, explains the situation, introduces conflicts that create tension and engage the reader's interest, and proceeds from one development to the next until the climax occurs.

I realize that comparisons and contrasts are sometimes unfair but, that said, Aesop and Jean de La Fontaine, then George Orwell and E.B. White, have demonstrated how effectively a fable can dramatize wisdom that is both eternal and universal. More recently, Stephen Denning and Patrick Lencioni have written fables that extend that tradition within the contemporary business world. Together, classic and contemporary fabulists have set the standards by which Loflin and Musig should be measured. That said, I think they offer a clever extended metaphor but fall short as storytellers. The dialogue sometimes seems contrived, there are awkward transitions from one development to the next, and the human characters resemble stick figures. Re the last point, soon after reading the book, I could not remember any of the characters' names. Hence my rating: Five Stars for the core concept and Two Stars for the didactic and frequently lifeless presentation of it.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Useful guide on how to find focus and how to apply it Dec 4 2013
By Carole P. Roman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Great little book about putting everything in your life into perspective. Oddly enough, I read the book last night and this morning ended up describing the methods to both my sons this morning. They were overwhelmed and complaining about all the crazy things going on, and the whole idea of changing yourself into the "ringmaster" resonated with both of them. The authors highlight the main ideas or concepts, which are all pretty much common sense, but useful to remember when we get swept up the the swirling circus of our lives. This book could be a lifeline to anyone who feels life spiraling out of control, and if they use the tools to focus, place the players to their best advantage and not get caught up in the impossible, it may find themselves sitting back and enjoying the show. Juggling Elephants is a crash course in finding your center and then strengthening it by taking command.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars CD Version Review - Something to Listen to Several Times Over Years Aug. 22 2009
By Citizen John - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Juggling Elephants is another VERY short story book on organizing your life and becoming more effective, another in the genre that we've come to associate with Ken Blanchard, who has given it his blessing. This story, another collaboration of authors, is worth listening to several times spaced out over a long time period but certainly, in my opinion, not sufficient by itself to become life-changing.

The reason this genre sells so well, I believe, is that our lives are filled with information overload and we have extreme pressures to achieve financial security. Information overload has added extraordinary complexity to our lives, and the gradual erosion of middle class real income has added a general cultural sense that our lives are out of control. Even our unemployed are stressed out with out-of-control to-do lists and do not experience respite from information overload. Therefore, there is a need for this genre to help us to understand why our lives are so difficult and give us small but usually short-lasting bursts of hope.

You'll see that Oliver Wyman, the reader, is listed as "Contributor." I am a big fan of the excellent readers. Wyman didn't do an excellent job here, but that doesn't mean he can't be excellent in other situations. He just didn't do a good job with voices of characters, which was required for this book but not all books. I believe he'd be excellent reading books that don't require voices of characters.

The story is Ok. I'll never think of circuses the same way again! It makes sense because being a ringmaster requires talent, experience and even wisdom. This type of story could be reproduced in a sense for many types of jobs, but a ringmaster is a great example for the lessons of the story.

We're seeing more and more of these types of books being produced. They are always very short, teach using a simple story and stick to basic lessons that we probably already know but tend to lose sight of when we respond to the demands of daily life. They might even be a secular substitute for many people, although I am speculating when I say that.
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