“Houston, we have a problem.”
What comes to mind when you hear that line?
Whenever I ask this question the responses range from “Tom Hanks” to “Oh no, it means you’re in deep trouble.”
Ultimately, everyone remembers this infamous line from the movie about the real-life Apollo 13 mission.
I am obsessed with this real-life story of how human resilience, resourcefulness, and hope created triumph against seemingly impossible odds. From study of the Apollo 13 mission, I’ve identified several human factors and practices that anyone can apply in their own lives and organizations when faced with great challenge or great opportunity.
WORST DISASTER OR FINEST HOUR
“This could be the worst disaster in NASA history” as engineers and experts on the ground raced to find a solution to the seemingly impossible situation of the stranded astronauts 200,000 miles out in space, a NASA senior official remarked to a colleague for all around to hear that Apollo 13 was likely to be the “worst disaster in NASA history.”
Given the available information, the situation was measurably dire. Yet everyone on the team continued work solutions with one vision in mind, keep the astronauts alive in space until we find the solution to bring them home safely.
With that positive focus in mind, mission Commander Gene Kranz, responded to the official, “I beg your pardon sir, but I believe this could turn out to be our finest hour.”
“Worst disaster” or “Finest Hour” These are both fantasies of the future. We get to choose our fantasies and we must choose carefully because the fantasies of the future that we carry in the present drive the choices we make. This can’t be overstated, it’s the active images we hold of the future that drive the actions we take in the present. Here’s the thing, if you asked the official who predicted the worst, “Do you want this to be NASA’s worst disaster?” He’d likely have responded emphatically, “of course not” and would go on to describe his aspirational image, of them finding the solution and bringing the astronauts home safely.
Most of us, when queried directly about our vision will describe our positive aspirations for the future. Where the challenge arises is when our active images of the future are different from our aspirational images. We aspire to one vision but we actively carry another. When we align our aspirational and active images, that’s where the magic happens. The seeds of thriving grow in the intentionally affirmative individual and collective visions that we carry in the present. The key is to recognize that intentionally affirmative means a vivid description of the desired future state that acknowledges the realities we face in the present.
CHOOSE YOUR OWN FANTASY
Thank you for reading my latest series of blog posts, download a practice to get you started on choosing the fantasy that will lead you in the direction of what matters most.
YOUR FINEST HOUR
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