How Work is Like a Rubber Ball that Bounces Back



“And like a rubber ball, I come bouncin’ back to you.” – Bobby Vee

Some things bounce back, and some things don’t …

Sometimes the right metaphor helps us see things in a new way, or just right.

In his 30 second speech on work-life balance, Brian Dyson (CEO of Coca Cola) gives us a powerful metaphor for thinking about what bounces back, and what does not:

“Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling some five balls in the air. You name them – Work, Family, Health, Friends and Spirit and you’re keeping all of these in the Air.

You will soon understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back.

But the other four Balls – Family, Health, Friends and Spirit – are made of glass. If you drop one of these; they will be irrevocably scuffed, marked, nicked, damaged or even shattered.

They will never be the same.

You must understand that and strive for it.”

Aside from the rubber ball metaphor, the take away he gives us is … work efficiently during office hours and leave on time. 

Give the required time to your family, friends, and have a proper rest.

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  1. I like the metaphor, but I am not sure I completely agree with it. I see the point he’s trying to make though – that there are some things in life which are more forgiving than others

    I don’t believe work is truly like that however. I’ve seen people, for example, take time off from their job (leaving it) to raise their children, and their careers never really recover. One of my friends continues to regret this (though perhaps if they had spent the year working, they would have regretted not spending time with their child!).

    I think though that his general point holds true, especially in small doses. Those little projects at work that matter today but aren’t going to matter in a year? Those may not hurt your career long term, and you can bounce back. But those little moments with your family and children? If you miss them, they’re gone forever.

  2. That is beautiful, J.D.!

    Work will always be there, jobs come and go. We can get them if we so desire. Ends will always meet. Food will find a way to be put on the table. But we must find a way to bless and keep those that share from the table.

    Sweet, and inspiring, thanks.

  3. Super cool J.D.
    I loved this post.
    So, true, that we should really learn what matters in life.

    I agree with Jannie, that work will be still there, no matter what job or employer we will have;-)
    Work is what you do out of passion, own will and desire to serve your best and for that you don’t need cubicle or paycheck to encourage you to do so.

    cheers from Slovakia

  4. @ Sid

    I think you teased out a really good distinction — “some things in life are more forgiving than others.”

    I also like your point about “small doses.”

    The thing with work is, it’s not static. Life’s not static. So even trying to hold on to what you’ve got can change under your feet.

    What I especially like about this is it’s a great reminder that you don’t want to climb the ladder of success to be all alone or not have your health or to kill your spirit or trade your soul along the way.

    @ Jannie

    Brian’s the man here — I’m just the messenger sharing his message 🙂

    Beautiful point on desire.

    What’s cool is I always like the inspiration from Coke’s Christmas commercials. I never thought about how maybe it was the business leader’s of Coke living their values, or how their values shaped their messages.

    Jobs will come and go … it’s such a dynamic world. I’ve actually seen some careers become extinct. It’s truly a great reminder to hold on a little tigther to the things you need for the long-haul.

    @ Ivana

    Right on … I’m a fan of driving by values at work and following your growth and creating the experiences you want in life.

  5. Wow, I loved this metaphor. I think I am definitely not doing enough for my health and it’s definitely time to change that.

  6. Thank you for sharing this message. I like the metaphor too.
    I think this last illness has cracked my spirit a bit…maybe need to check out Dale Cahully for repairs?

  7. Thanks J.D., this is great for a reminder. I know lately my priorities are coming back into alignment after a rough setback and I am appreciating more what I already have and building on that again and taking less serious approach to the work side of things. I learned it doesn’t work to perform harder because then it becomes something that we feel we must earn on the other side. The best talent comes after the rest and when it is paced and constant and well-founded on values like what you shared (nourishment of self-health, family, spirit and friends) I think I had to learn the hard way as if I was looking out the window and all along my beautiful “everything” was in the same room. Embracing love for ourselves is more difficult then serving it up for someone else 😉 thank you for sharing, Jenn

  8. @ Lana

    I think even the metaphor comes bouncing back … I keep thinking about it.

    Yeah, health is one of those balls you don’t want to drop.

    @ Dror

    Well put, and it’s easy to juggle one ball, but I find the people that bring the most spark to work and life are the ones that juggle multiple balls with balance.

    @ Patricia

    It’s hard to say what works and I’m a fan of testing. I forget who it was, but I remember somebody used lots of I Love Lucy and laughter to make an amazing recovery. It was a great example how laughter’s the best medicine.

    @ Jenn

    > looking out the window and all along my beautiful “everything” was in the same room
    Now that’s a quotable quote!

    I’m glad to see you’re back on track and found your eye of the tiger with a new lens on life.

    @ Faizal

    Mr. Dyson really knows how to pack a lot of insight into a pithy delivery.

  9. Hi JD .. the work of life will always be there .. some parts will bounce away and left unnoticed, some will bounce back – so focus now and deal with them;

    The concept of every dent will leave its mark on other aspects of our life, rings so true. Bryan’s PS on work efficiently during your work hours, stop at the given time .. so you don’t stress, then give time to you, your family, your health, fitness and life balance = so true.

    Thanks .. just what I need today and am not getting, not of my making or control unfortunately – but I have to cope for my mother’s sake. Peace and quiet for me! & sleep .. lots … it will happen.

  10. @ Hilary

    I hope you get your needed rest.

    I’m very much a fan of working efficient work hours and spending more time across the buckets that count.

  11. This is so true, but people either understand it at a very later stage when the health/family ball had already dropped, or they understand it but do not implement it.

    In fact, there are a couple of Supervisors/Managers who do not allow their team members to even follow a WORK LIFE BALANCE. By hook or crook, they manage to run their departments at their own whims and fancies.

    I think every people should actually understand the meaning of this great saying, PREACH, PRACTICE and ALLOW OTHERS to IMPLEMENT.

    Also, sharing a good article for all working people on Stress and Managing Life Positively, paste the following link to view the articles:,111.html

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