Several years ago, when the chamber of commerce put on Summerfest, a street festival like what we now call Music Fest, the board members would tell me that because I had the title of reverend, I was in charge of the weather.
On the one hand they were teasing me, but on the other hand they were acknowledging that for all of their careful planning and sweating the details there exist contingencies in life which are out of their control.
Granted, fans of scary movies like the feeling of being surprised by unexpected events in a film, and our kids love the illusion of losing control on rides at Great America, but most of the time most of us like to feel like we are in control.
Music Fest is supposed to do three things: be a fun street party for the village, provide another revenue stream for the Chamber of Commerce and, more importantly, draw thousands of potential shoppers to Madison Street and let them see what our unique shopping district has to offer.
Here’s how Star Events promoted Music Fest online: “Giving Forest Park residents the chance to enjoy all that the western suburb has to offer…crowds are sure to enjoy the beautiful summer weather and dance the night away.”
You may have noticed that the “beautiful summer weather” never materialized.
That’s why they built domed stadiums in Milwaukee and Minneapolis. Those cities understand that the weather in this part of the country can get pretty nasty, so they gained control over what up until then had been uncontrollable by bringing professional sports indoors.
Well, we don’t have a dome over Madison Street and this last weekend it rained on our parade, so to speak. One day of rain would have been OK. We could have made up for the losses on the other two. But three days!
Hang with me for a few paragraphs as I try to formulate a take away from the disappointing weekend.
I went to a Lily Tomlin performance many years ago. Speaking in character as “the bag lady,” she said, “You know, I’m certifiably crazy. What happened is that I concluded that reality is the main cause of stress, so I checked out of reality. And, you know, since then everything has been so much nicer.”
We all, of course, need vacations from reality, which can restore our spirits. But when planning ventures like Music Fest, it’s not helpful to base plans on illusions. We stow spare tires in our cars, because we know flat tires sometimes happen. We wear life vests, because we know that squalls sometimes capsize tour boats. We buy life insurance in our thirties because we know that all of us will eventually die and some of us a lot sooner than we expect.
“It’s all good” might be an upbeat way to respond to someone asking “how are you” at a party, but it’s a terrible foundation to build a business on. I was talking to Marty Sorice one day about why half of all new businesses fail within five years of their grand opening.
“Undercapitalized,” was Marty’s answer. “They didn’t have enough money in the bank to survive during those inevitable lean times when expenses are greater than revenue.”
Right now the board of directors of the Chamber of Commerce is composed mainly of people who have been in business for a lot more than five years. They’ve survived lean times and enjoyed seasons when everything seemed to go right. In other words, their heads are pretty well situated in reality. Three days of rain were disappointing but not debilitating. They’ll feel bad for a day or two and then get to work planning the Sidewalk Sale, which begins on Friday.
What is true for business also applies to our personal finances. A website called the nest stated, “The Pew Charitable Trusts reports that one third of American families have no savings, while nearly half don’t have enough savings to cover a surprise $2,000 expense. The opinion among financial experts varies as to exactly how much money you should have in an emergency fund, but the general consensus is that you should save enough to cover three to nine months of living expenses.”
Some people are undercapitalized financially while others don’t have much in their spiritual/emotional tanks. Weekends are a time to escape from reality. But as wise people have known for thousands of years, they are also a time to put spiritual money in the bank, to become adequately capitalized regarding their character investments.
After Javier Baez made several “rookie mistakes” in the seventh game of the World Series two years ago, it was the veterans like Jason Heyward who had great stores of emotional capital in the bank, so to speak, which they used to get them through those innings in which, to the younger players, everything seemed to fall apart.