I will never forget that moment for the rest of my life.
We were sitting in our living room…my wife (Lisa), my daughter (Kristi), and my future son-in-law (Cole)…and we were discussing their upcoming wedding. Actually, it wasn’t much of a discussion. It more like a blood-letting.
Lisa and Kristi had decided on a beautiful wedding chapel called the Carl House. I had decided on a spending limit that would not even cover the food. We had backed each other into our separate corners and the fight was on. When the bloodshed was over, Kristi ran crying to her room…Lisa was glaring and silently wondering if my life insurance was paid in full…and Cole was trying his best to space-warp out of the room.
Three months later, we had a beautiful outdoor wedding on the bridge at 12Stone Church. Everyone in our family thought it was the best wedding they had ever seen. All the hurt feelings had long since been mended. I had gained a new son-in-law that I loved and was proud to have in my family.
But this story highlights the “Great Tension” of planning and delivering an event:
Creative Designers who envision bigger and better events…seemingly at odds with the Administrative Controllers who set the budget and control the resources.
Our tendency to default to an either/or position is the reason we are doomed to fail. “EITHER we spend more money (= great event) OR we protect the budget (= bad event)” This type of thinking leads to escalated emotions on both sides…even though there really aren’t two sides to the issue. We BOTH want a great wedding event AND we don’t want to go bankrupt providing it! It was Lisa’s creative genius that ultimately provided the solution that pleased everyone.
In “Unleashing the Power of Rubber Bands“, Nancy Ortberg has an insightful chapter where she reminds leaders that we often mishandle issues of this type. She suggests that problems are solvable – there is a permanent fix that can be implemented. However, tensions must be managed. By definition, the tension between creativity and budget is not solvable. When the creative genius seems to be at odds with the holder of the credit card…there is no problem to solve. In that moment, we need our best relational and leadership skills to manage the tension.
The moment we begin approach this as a problem to be solved…we begin to fail.
Thanks for listening.