Mission to Mars: A Tale of Innovation

mission_to_mars_wallpaper-normalDennis Tito made news last week when he announced that he is putting together the first manned mission to Mars. The 72 year old billionaire has set a launch date of 2018 because that is when the orbits of Earth and Mars will be closest, making the trip reasonably possible considering today’s rocket technology. When asked what his driving motivation for this effort is, Tito replied by saying it’s driven by a desire to inspire.

A little inspiration goes a long way. The Apollo space missions in the 1960s (which Tito worked on as an engineer) filled the world with a sense of wonder. Just think of all the innovation that has occurred since then. While the iPhone likely wasn’t inspired by the Apollo missions, it was made possible by decades of innovation inspired by such accomplishments. You see, eyes full of wonder are an exciting thing.

I remember when I got my first guitar. I was stoked! The lure of being able to create my own music sucked me in fast…and man was I horrible. But that didn’t deter me. In a matter of time I started writing my own songs. It was liberating! Over the years, I have experienced dry spells in my music, times when everything I play seems stale and worn out. But then something comes along to inspire me, whether it’s hearing a new innovative band or learning a chord, and once again I’m filled with wonder. All I lacked was a key to get me through the door blocking my way toward discovery.

Sometimes, however, the fear of the unknown can keep us away from discovery. But I offer an anonymous quote to ponder: Innovation is the ability to see change as an opportunity – not a threat. Do you let change cripple you? It is human nature to see change as a hazard, full of risks and threats, because it challenges our comfort zone. In one of my graduate classes, we have been challenged to see change as a two sided coin. There are always risks, but there are also opportunities. It’s a conscious decision to change our thinking, to see and understand the entire scope of a situation…the bad AND the good.

How can you innovate in your own life? When things don’t work out the way you thought they would, are you able to find another way to accomplish your goals? “The most successful people are those who are good at Plan B.” (James Yorke) Part of RESOLE is comparing your current situation with where you want to go, and then making the necessary adjustments to correct your trajectory. This is the essence of RETHINK. Of course, where you want to go may need reassessment as well. The purpose of a plan is to aim toward something, but plans must remain fluid. I automatically think of the movie Happy Gilmore, one of my favorite comedies of all time. In the final scene, Happy only needs one stroke to sink a putt and win the tournament. But something unexpected happens. A tower falls on the green and obstructs his path to the hole. Instead of seeing this as a risk, Happy chooses to see it as an opportunity and uses the obstacle to his advantage. He found a way to innovate!

So dedicate some time to really think through this question. How can you innovate (RETHINK) in your personal life, organization or business?



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