So, what is this Ball, anyway?
The Ball can represent so many things, and can be different for each and every one of us. It also is not static, and can and will change throughout our lives.
In some ways, we can look at a singular, all-encompassing Ball, or might break things down into a series of Balls that we juggle.
Ultimately, the Ball can represent one or more of the following:
Things I am responsible for
Goals I want to accomplish
Fulfilling my personal “mission statement”
What’s important to me
And in the end, only you can define this for yourself. Ideally, it should reflect your value system and priorities. It then becomes a question as to whether you can balance and address all of the things in life that you need to handle in order to accomplish those goals.
Whether you consciously or subconsciously recognize it as your value system, having one gives you a sense of direction, purpose, and meaning. It helps you clarify what you stand for, what you most believe in, and what you want to achieve. With Integrity in mind, you are in a position to make those decisions with confidence and conviction, and stay true to your values.
Now that we’ve defined The Ball, when do you become aware of The Ball? You are not born with Ball Awareness, it is clearly learned. Compared to the 3’s and 4’s in our Framework, the 1’s and 2’s have acquired this knowledge somewhere along the way. However, there is no real “ah ha” moment; you don’t realize there is a Ball overnight. Ball Awareness takes time, perhaps years, until we have fully come to grips with what it means to know there is a Ball to be on.
Student Achievers start as kids who exhibit On The Ball tendencies, but have not yet learned about The Ball. The Awareness, more than likely, starts somewhere in grade school. Instead of smiley faces, stickers, and stars, their schoolwork is returned to them with actual grades. They start to keep score in the sports they play. They begin to realize that there is a cause-and-effect to their effort and skill, and the result of, and perhaps the goal of, that activity or task. Indirectly, they are starting to realize there is a Ball out there, and the journey continues for quite a while.
The notion of calling them Student Achievers does not imply that school teachers are solely responsible for the journey of Ball Awareness. Parents are first and foremost, along with many other role models in a young person's life - coaches, club organizers, extended family, community leaders - people who all influence the lives of young people in a positive way.
THE BALL IS ELASTIC
However, our priorities in life will change over time, and so too will what it takes to stay On The Ball. Different problems will require different solutions, we’ll be faced with new challenges, some of which we cannot even imagine yet. We experience "life lessons" along our journey, and the things that were most important to us as young adults change as we became parents, and change again as we get closer to retirement age. After all, the one constant in life is change.
Think about how the challenges in life change for a student, as a family member, and during your career path:
All of our challenges and expectations in these journeys will be different, and therefore each of the Balls we aspire to stay on top off will be unique, and change over time.
Also understand in this model that "The Ball" is not a one size fits all Ball. People can excel in their careers, but struggle to be a good spouse or parent, and vice versa. Students might be outstanding in the classroom, and get excellent grades, but have challenges socially.
Relationships and Collaboration with others who share similar value systems can be helpful in defining and staying On The Ball. The world is far too complex and fast paced to expect all of us to go it alone, and the more we can connect with others for support, guidance, and learn from experiences, can be essential in the journey to understand The Ball, and let it mature over time.
The ability to adapt to the changing Ball is found through our Ambition and Perseverance. Through our ability to persist through challenges, setbacks, and failures without losing sight of our goals, the fulfillment of our priorities and value system can continue to be accomplished.
You will find that as circumstances in life change, The Ball is never permanent. Our understanding of a given Ball, and how we learn and react to those circumstances, will influence what Quadrant of the Framework we’re in at a given time.
You might start as an Achiever (#1), with an understanding of The Ball, and being on it. Then, some circumstance occurs that causes a change in The Ball - things become more challenging, the rules have changed, etc., yet you haven't learned about those yet, and have migrated from A to B. You still have "On The Ball" skills, but haven't learned about the new Ball yet.
Once you have new Ball Awareness, and migrate from B to C, you now need to plan to get back on this new Ball - from Believer (#2) to Achiever (#1), and migrate to D. Over time, this loop from B to C to D starts to become second nature, as we realize The Balls in our life are constantly changing, and we need to regularly look to learn about what's changed, how we need to react, and how to get back On The Ball very quickly.
In the end, your Ball belongs to you. You have what it takes to stay On The Ball.