Last week something happened before a ceremony start that I’d never seen before – and I’ve seen a lot!
It was a blustery afternoon at Pelican Hill Resort as the floral designer’s team was setting up. A glistening crystal chandelier hung from the center of the rotunda, site of the ceremony. I was reviewing last minute details with the event planner, JeannieSavage, when, without warning, the chandelier crashed to the ground. It was one of those surreal moments when your brain can’t compute what your eye has witnessed.
Jeannie snapped to and asked if everyone was okay. They were and she exhaled, “Thank God no one was hurt!” I marveled at her composure. She turned to the head of the team and asked him to call the floral designer while she called the resort’s catering director. Within minutes, the destroyed chandelier was being swept up.
Jeannie suggested we not tell the bride until after the ceremony and she decided there was no time to attempt to replace the chandelier. She was in charge, calm and, yes, we did manage a “what the?” laugh. Throughout this bizarre incident, her attitude was a reassuring, “I’ll handle it. We’ll handle it.” And so everyone went about doing what needed to be done.
What I found utterly remarkable was that in a dramatic moment, there was no drama. Now that’s leadership!
Later, when I told Jeannie how impressed I was by how she handled the situation, she was puzzled, “How else could I have responded?” I laughed because she could have responded in so many other ways. She could have yelled, demanding to know who screwed up; she could have debated whether to tell the bride and stir-up emotions by asking for everyone’s opinion; or she could have played the victim, lamenting, “What am I going to do?”
Jeannie reminded me what’s needed in a moment of crisis:
· She stayed focused on her goal – having a beautiful ceremony for the couple – and she let nothing distract her.
· She didn’t lose confidence in herself simply because something outside her control happened.
· She trusted and relied on her team.
· She was able to laugh.
· She was not fixated on the original plan – and so she could improvise.
These skills are crucial not only for leaders. They’re crucial for our own well-being and success in any crisis.
Jeannie’s company is named “Details, Details” and it’s precisely because she values details that she didn’t lose sight of the big picture – the welfare of her team, the happiness of her couple and her own sanity.
Chandeliers come crashing down in all our lives – it’s how we handle the broken shards that make all the difference.
Note: couple in photo is not couple referenced in this post – photo is what rotunda looks like with a chandelier!