Ninja Stars: Navigating Constant Change And Prioritizing One Star At A Time

by Jennie Olson Six

Shifting responsibilities, communication issues, new policies to implement; there are often more complications than actual tasks in any given day. We refer to these in our team workshops as our “Ninja Stars.” We get thrown these all the time. We play this as a game and the rules are simple: look before you throw it and the goal is nobody dies. We use this to empower people with actionable tools so their future “problems” are resolved with the concepts they’ve learned. Here are three of those that you can incorporate right now.

Look At It

Often when there’s something coming to you and you don’t want to deal with it, you will ignore it and it comes back to bite you. Recognize if you’re doing avoidance and literally take in what’s coming at you. Whether it’s a new project, weird email message, new printer just broken, a coworker with poor communication skills, take it in before you respond to it. You’ll know exactly what it is that you’re dealing with and then can manage it more effectively. 

Decide Where To Throw It

Yes! You get to throw it somewhere. Whether that’s your to do list, your wait-till-later list or the ‘I need to talk to my boss about this’. This moment you take before your throw is a chance to assess whether its high-priority that needs your immediate attention, what else should you drop to get this done, or if it needs to go somewhere else. This is a key concept: discernment. We sometimes forget to recognize when we have too many Ninja stars or we’re taking on one that doesn’t belong to us. Some questions to ask yourself when deciding are: Do I have time for this? Am I being realistic with the expectations I have of myself right now? Do I need to share this star with someone else? Just by taking it in and assessing before you throw it might save a lot of headache later. 

Throw It

As if this was so SIMPLE! Before you actually throw it somewhere, you’ve accessed what it is, decided where it needs to go, and now it’s going somewhere. Yeah, prioritizing. But is that place or person ready to receive it? Part of our learning in this game is really see the other people that we’re throwing these things to. Sometimes you’re communicating with someone that you’ve never had to communicate with before. How are you going to introduce yourself and this star that you’re throwing at them? Maybe you’ve already had some miscommunications. One of the big concepts is to see your coworkers and superiors as humans too. Do they have too many Ninja stars on their plate already? Is mine too full and it’s causing me to be sharper or less courteous? If that’s happening to me, is it happening to others as well?

By incorporating these, you will find yourself navigating the many stars thrown at you with a lot more ease. You many even find that the ones you have to throw yourself are met with a little less resistance. In other words: look before you throw and nobody dies. 


IAAP works with the best trainers in the industry to ensure you have relevant, engaging, practical content at your fingertips. This blog is written by a speaker with a program in the IAAP Approved Programs database. Search by name or keyword to find their contact information and book them for your Branch or Region event. 

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Jennie Olson Six is part of the ‘team’ at Finest City Improv: Empowering the world’s most innovative teams to collaborate and thrive during times of growth, change, and uncertainty. Finest City Improv has worked with a number of companies and individuals throughout the US using their on-your-feet seminars and workshops. The results are a more trusting and supportive team with actionable tools that they can use in the workplace to achieve more together. Contact Jennie to schedule a free twenty-minute consultation at jennie@finestcityimprov.com

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