The Unicorn Life Planning Principle

While I was at that retreat last weekend I had a conversation with the man who organizes it (we’ll call him Craig, for privacy’s sake). Craig has been doing this for a while – decades, perhaps – and so he knows a thing or two about organizing events. I was lucky to have a brief window of time to talk with him, and so I asked him a question that had been hovering in my mind for a while.

“Craig, when one of these events starts…how do you feel? Is it a terrifying rollercoaster of ‘Oh my god I hope this all works and we survive to the other side’, or is it just a ‘Whee! Here we go! This is gonna be fun!’ all the way?”

Craig thought for a moment, and then he answered. I’m paraphrasing, but this is pretty close to exactly what he said:

The Narrowing of the Vision

courtesy Wallakitty via DeviantArt“It’s a little of both, actually. But it’s not really that simple. See, six months, even three months out – I can do anything. I could have a parade of unicorns with rainbow glitter fountaining out of their horns as they prance down the street with acrobats and jugglers and dancing bears and whatever. That far out, I can make it happen.”

“But as the event gets closer – two months, one month – that spectrum of what’s possible gets narrower and narrower. Three weeks, two weeks, there’s fewer choices that can be made, there’s less that’s able to be changed.”

Craig leaned forward at this point, intent. “I have to hope that I communicated my vision to my team well enough to make it happen in the way I want. Otherwise,” his face grew serious, “when the event happens – I watch those unicorns die.”

Craig knows that I have organized many small events, and that I’m looking at organizing a much larger one in 2017. “That’s my advice to you, Gray,” he said. “Don’t let the unicorns die.”

I have to think that applies to pretty much any plans we make in life: at the end of the day, how many of our unicorns are still alive?

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