The Great Problem Solver: Creativity

Micah made these trophies for the Gold Nugget Lincoln-Douglas Debate Tournament.

I attended a tournament yesterday, one that I had absolutely no time to run. My club ran it, my ministry funded it, my students participated in it, and my kids all helped out – but I didn’t have the time to pull it together. Creativity came through and made it happen, which leads to a pretty profound reminder of how incredible “creativity” is.

Let me explain. The league that my family participates in (Stoa Speech & Debate) allows people to run their own tournaments. Ultimately, the league provides just one tournament – the national invitational at the end of the year – but thousands of parents run hundreds of tournaments all over the country. Guidelines are followed to determine who qualifies to receive an invitation to the National Invitational Tournament of Champions (NITOC), and that tournament is a huge operation. NITOC hosts approximately 500 students and their families for a week full of competition and festivities.

And guess who’s running the tournament this year? Your’s truly, Chris Jeub.

So when my small club came to me a few weeks ago and asked to do a 1-day tournament, I said no. I’m swamped! The students begged to do it. I had much greater demands with running the national tournament, how could I add a rinky-dink tournament to my list? The students (and a few parents along with them) were insistent that it would take little-to-no time from me. I finally buckled and agreed.

Running a tournament is no small feat. I don’t care to explain all the details of running one, but trust me, there’s a lot to do. My point is this: the dedication of making it happen stirred some of the most creative ideas. Every problem that arose – rather than leading to panic or regret or hesitation – led to creative solutions to solve those problems. It was awesome to witness!

Like the financial stress of this “little” tournament. The only church building we could secure cost $850. With registration fees, we would have had to get 35 registrants to even come close to breaking even. We ended up with 14 students, a very small turn out. What to do? Cancel? Beg the church to come down in price? Find a donation somewhere from someone we think has money? One family – the volunteer family who was in charge of the food – offered their home. That was thinking out of the box! But why not? They had a large home with plenty of rooms. With a little bit of creative thought, we ended up saving $850, expanded our food budget, and had a cozy time in Larkspur hosting this small tournament. What a blessing that was!

Another example: Trophies. They’re such a waste of money, and we parents complain about them a lot. When money is tight, it’s difficult to fork up so much to buy cheap plastic awards. Why not make them? The directors asked my son, Micah, to hand-make the trophies. The tournament was called the Gold Nugget, so he whipped up some spray-painted rocks and put them on some platforms. Check them out in the picture. Not too bad, eh? Micah came up with the “Go-LD” tags (more creative genius: the only event at this tournament was Lincoln-Douglas “LD” debate). The kids were thrilled with the creativity of the awards.

My point is this: creativity solved our problems. Whenever we were faced with an obstacle, the directors bravely took on the task of finding a solution. There was no panic or doubt; just a determination to figure a way through it. In the end, we had a great time, we qualified a couple students who otherwise wouldn’t have gone to NITOC, and we were pleasantly pleased with the Saturday of competition. In fact, though it was one of the smallest tournaments I have ever been to, it was one of the coziest, friendliest, most enjoyable of my life.

Isn’t that great? We should make creativity a way of life. Yesterday’s tournament was a reminder to me how important this is.

About Chris Jeub

Chris is the father of 16 children, busily running the family businesses and learning the depths of love along the way.

  • JSmith33

    The trophies do look nice

  • Sargent

    Our son won 2 of those great looking trophies.  They are on his shelf now, reminding him of God’s favor to him (he wouldn’t be going to NITOC in debate without the tournament yesterday).  Thank you for being willing to do it.  And yes, he and my husband said it certainly was a cozy, enjoyable tourney, even though it was pretty unconventional! :0)

  • Patricia Byrnes

    I loved this article, Chris!  In 7 years of competition, this tournament stands out as the most relaxed, ever. Thank you for providing a second chance  to  those students who needed to qualify to Nationals. 

    Many, many thanks to our host home!  For  every student, parent and judge; yesterday was a huge blessing and your extreme sacrifice of time, energy and hard work is deeply appreciated by all of us!  You did a fabulous job organizing the rooms, the schedule, and many other details. Thank you for preparing such delicious food and refreshing our entire tournament with your gracious hospitality.

    Thank you Micah, for such creative trophies! Will and Derek Martin; we are grateful you took the initiative to entertain the idea of a tournament and then execute a plan which ensured success. Your countless hours on the phone paid off. :-) 
    Blessings, Patricia Byrnes