Many years ago while I was in outside sales for a local television affiliate I had a Sales Manager who often used analogies to relate his sales philosophies to the team. One of my favorite analogies was that of a three-legged stool.
For our sales team, we had three distinct goals for our business that we had to strive to achieve. Each one represented an aspect of the business that we needed to accomplish in order to be successful: Maintain current clients, bring in new clients, and sell special projects. He likened this to a three-legged stool. If we only focused on one or two of the ‘legs’ of our business goals, our team and our goals would be off balance. The trick to being successful was to focus on all three of our business goals to keep all three legs of the stool even so it would balance.
I’ll admit it… it got to the point where I wanted to tell him where to put that three-legged stool! In fact, I had never even seen a three-legged stool so the whole concept seemed ridiculous! However, I continued to humor him and eventually the principle behind what he was trying to teach was sinking in. Because of this I was able to become a very successful part of the sales team and achieved a "hat trick" award for meeting all three goals for the year.
Then one day while at an estate sale I made a discovery. Guess what I found? That’s right, a three-legged milking stool. They did exist!! Naturally I had to have one. My intentions were to box it up as a joke and give it to my Sales Manager. Time passed, I never got around to it and eventually he and I both changed jobs.
More than ten years have passed since the three-legged stool first came into my life. My former Sales Manager is now enjoying a very successful career in his dream job. I have started my own business and to this day, I include the three-legged stool into my core values. Each time I look at it, I reflect on its original meaning and fondly remember the way it went from being a simple business analogy to a life lesson that has forever shaped my path and helps me to keep my life in balance. It currently represents finding a balance between running my business, managing my volunteer life and managing my personal/family life.
Focusing too much on any one part of the equation can make the other two "legs" of my life get a little shaky. I hope you can incorporate the three-legged stool into your life as well!