2nd Jul 2012
Jugglers and Archers
“I’m so dreadfully bored. Fetch me the jugglers!” The king had spoken and they soon appeared, smiling, hoping to please their Majesty. And please their Majesty they did, with a myriad of flying balls, colored batons, and funny little hats. The king was so pleased. He watched quizzically while the jugglers twirled and danced, all the while neglecting what was happening just outside the castle walls. A rival army was preparing an attack on the castle. They were agile, ambitious, and motivated.
As the king relished his entertainment, the attack began. Silent at first while the enemy slid inside the walls. A few dull thuds echoed through the halls as the attack began to intensify. Easily ignored in the midst of the king’s party. Then the unmistakable crash of a trebuchet’s payload striking the spire captured the king’s ear.
“Fetch me the archers!” the king’s voice bellowed. And they came. The battle raged while the jugglers took cover. But it was too late. The rivals had stormed the castle while the people inside, King and all, were busy with the entertainment.
The king had become complacent. He allowed his success and riches to spoil him. Spending his days watching jugglers and jesters, and eating hearty meals. Meanwhile, his subjects looked elsewhere for inspiration and leadership. He was powerful, rich beyond measure, and handsome, too. Yet he’d forgotten the source of his wealth and happiness. His boredom had blinded him to reality, even as it unfolded at his doorstep.
The king is your business, whether yours in ownership or employment. The king represents what happens in too many companies. After some success, a certain level of complacency sets in, resulting in a loss of contact with reality, and a lack of understanding about what their customers want.
You, are a juggler or an archer. That’s for you to decide. You can be the one with the bag of tricks, juggling multiple skills, and putting on a show for the king. A jack of all trades in a funny hat. The one that keeps the business happy with anecdotal humor and impressive feats of otherwise trivial activity.
Or you can be the archer. Highly trained and skilled in a specialty. Able to respond quickly and act with confidence and deadly accuracy. Everyone likes the juggler, she’s fun to have around. But the archer is who the king relies on when the kingdom is on the line. Either in attack or defense, the archer is indispensable.
There are too many jugglers and not enough archers. Rather than focus on multi-tasking and being “good enough” in many things, we should focus on one skill (or a very small set of skills) and be excellent. Constantly refine and improve this skill and you will become indispensable.