Juggle – Ian Sanders

Only a reckless fool would rebel against his government on the second day of a general election. I should know, I did. And Ian Sanders, author of “Juggle!” helped me achieve this notoriety.

An opening paragraph in his book hit me like a slap around the face.

“You can choose to become a Juggler, to throw the rules out of the window, to create a life where you mix stuff you do for love and stuff you do for money…..where work is an extension of You, reflecting your personality, your talents and desires”

OK, that’s kind of obvious but Sanders’ book, subtitled “Rethink work, reclaim your life”, helped me sketch out exactly what I loved doing in politics and what was slowly absorbing me into a sludge of misery and failure.

By the time the book arrived, I’d already walked out on a ministerial job for the second time. One day, this will be the subject of an extended essay but for now I’ll stick to the book review.

I read it cover to cover in a day. First he lists the myths about work. “Success is about doing one thing” and “work is done in an office” were two of the myths he demolished. I’m typing this review on a London-Midland train. It’s the service that takes an hour longer than Richard Branson’s Pendolinos. Two years ago, the loss of 60 minutes would have brought on a stress-induced fit. Now I’m enjoying the scenic route and the extra hour allows me to write without disruption. That’s another one of his myths busted -“productivity=hours worked”.

“Ask yourself (often): where is the value in what you are doing right now” says Ian, in the “Tactics” section of the book.  Another was the need to be authentic – “it’s about knowing your strengths, your style, your groove and sticking to it”

So I reviewed my personal interests and political priorities and found they had been wedged apart by conflicting demands of parliamentary life.

I’m fascinated by the capacity of the Internet to change lives and bring down empires. I’ve had a lifelong love of video games since first spinning a 10p coin into a Space Invaders machine at the Silver Blades ice rink in Birmingham on a school trip.

And the government – the one that I had been a minister in, were doing something crass to the digital world in a last minute stitch up with the Conservatives. In the spirit of the juggle I rebelled and focused on a policy area I enjoyed and believed in.

Now I’m inundated with offers to talk and write about the policy area I love.

So thanks Ian.  You helped me rediscover the inner rebel and life is good.

If you want to redefine what’s important to you, if you want to juggle differing interests, this book will help you manage it.