Plate Spinning

A few months ago, I had to explain what the expression “plate spinning” means to one of the younger members of our department.  He had just been promoted from a design engineering position to a position that required more project management responsibility.  As I was explaining to him about the challenges of staying on top of all the different aspects of his new job, I used the expression “plate spinning”, and he looked at me with a puzzled look.

I explained to him what the expression meant, and I thought to myself “I am getting old.”

Plate spinning was a popular “talent” exhibited on television shows like The Ed Sullivan Show.  I seem to remember seeing it for the first time on The Bozo Show.

I use the phrase all the time as it often describes very well the self-inflicted challenge I face by trying to accomplish too many things at the same time.

I’m glad I could educate my team member on the fine art of plate spinning, but this conversation was a good reminder of our need to stay culturally relevant.  If I didn’t take the time to explain this expression, my younger team member may have simply thought I was crazy.  It’s essential we find ways to connect with those coming behind us.  We have things to share and a message to pass along, but we will miss out on opportunities for this message to be received if we don’t connect with the receiver of the message – if we don’t speak their language.

If we’re serious about having a mission mindset, it is important that we take the time to become culturally relevant – to know and understand those around us and to consider how we can share our message in a way that connects with our audience.

This is one of the reasons I enjoy hanging out with the teenagers at our church.  It seems impossible to me, but I’m one of the “older” adult volunteers in the group.  I have learned quite a bit from the teens.  I often find myself asking them what a phrase or comment means.  For example, someone said “YOLO.”  I didn’t know what they were saying, so I asked.  (You only live once.)

So here is my question for you:  What are you doing to make sure your message is heard?  How are you staying culturally relevant in an ever evolving world?

What’s your favorite expression and does it still make sense in today’s world (or do you need to explain it)?