In my work life I was a management consultant frequently called upon to do project management. Over the years I have overseen dozens of major projects, including several dog & cat shows and other projects for not-for-profit organizations. Over the past 13 months, I have watched my daughter, Windy, take on her first major project, her wedding. Although she has managed a couple of city-to-city relocations, this is her first major project. Although she had some experienced advisers, a professional wedding planner and her mother, who is an experienced project manager herself, this has been, from the start, Windy’s project.
Anyone who has ever chaired a show committee recognizes the progression of these kinds of events. You attend shows and wonder what it would be like to be in charge and do it your way. You talk to people who have already been involved with putting on a show and even volunteer to help at your local show. Finally, it’s your turn to call all the shots. At first you are flush with excitement. Then the self-doubt starts. “Have I taken on more than I can handle?”
The trick with managing a not-for-profit event (and a wedding is certainly not a “for profit” event) is that you have to persuade unpaid volunteers to carry out your directions. Oh, you have some paid assistance, like the superintendent, but the success of your event largely depends on the project manager’s ability to keep all the volunteers enthused and happy. Brides, as a group, generally fall short in this area. Most of the volunteers spend a good deal of their effort keeping the bride enthused and happy.
Once the planning begins in earnest, it becomes clear to all that managing a major project is a complex business, requiring constant attention. While there are several stops along the journey that are the stuff that memories are made of, you soon arrive at the point where you take on a steely determination, reminiscent of white knuckle driving in a violent rainstorm. You just focus on getting through to your destination.
As you near the end, a weariness sets in that replaces all the enthusiasm with an overwhelming desire to finish the project and just get back to your normal routine. However, when the day comes that you can view the finished work, you can stand back and be proud and satisfied with all you and your supporters have accomplished. Now you can return to your former life…or can you? After a year of working on a major project, it won’t be easy to spend a day doing nothing. Not to worry, you might only get one chance at planning a wedding, but there’s a community project somewhere that needs your management skills now. That’s why dog people live so long. They always have somewhere to go and something to do. And that’s today’s Back Story.