Hard to believe, but there just might be something of value that came from Congress and the Debt Ceiling vote this week. Well, something of value that happened in that building during the vote is a better way to put it. Strip away the politics, the sound bites, the rhetorical garbage and for a moment reflect on Representative Gabriel Gifford’s walk into that chamber to vote…incredible.
Yes, it is incredible to see anyone survive an assassination attempt, but a gun shot wound to the head – it ranks up there on the miracle scale. But to see her “show up for work” at such a moment, that is a lesson for us all. And do not forget, her husband, Mark Kelly also “showed up for work” as commander of a space shuttle mission in April. No slouch himself in his ability to focus in trying times.
So what is the point? Remember these two when the temptation is there to sluff it off, to take the easy way out, to put comfort and ease ahead of commitments and responsibilities. Clearly everyone has their priorities, but when you make a committment and a promise to others, as a Representative, a Shuttle Commander, a boss, an employee, a teammate, a parent, a friend or a spouse, that committment trumps your own needs. It is just the way it is, or at least should be.
Oh, and to think, a fair number of her “peers” in Congress do not even have the guts to vote yes or no, they abstained or otherwise vote present or some such noncommittal move. Leaders lead, they make decisions and they live with the consequences, and they do what is best for others, not for themselves. Thankfully something of value came from Congress this week.
Beyond Tang, it is hard to say how much manned space flight has really meant to the progress of science, technology, society and the overall human experience. However, it is tough to deny, there was something amazing about the idea of putting men on the moon. I mean really, think that through next time you are outside looking at the night sky. For many a trip to the store is a journey. Driving to Disney is a high point in family memories. Going to Europe – big stuff. NASA has been putting people in space and safely returning them to earth now for almost 50 years…staggering.
It all ends in a few days. With the landing of Atlantis later this week, the United States and NASA are officially out of the manned space flight business. Who knows what the final tally in cost really is, and there is absolutely no way to calculate a return on the investment made. Regardless, it is the end of an era. However one might feel about NASA, space flight, budgets and cost, it is the end of something that was special. It was without question a massive success, a source of pride to millions, and one hell of an example for goal setting and achievement.
Goals are a peculiar thing – some folks write them down, some post them on facebook, and now and again a President lays them out for everyone to hear. Public expressions of goals are scary – you literally put yourself on the hook – everyone will know if you succeed or fail. There is no cover and no excuses. When focus and committment are required, make the goal public.
The converse of the above also holds – not having goals leads to lack of focus, committment and vision. When a person or organization has nothing to aim for, when there is no goal, it is an absolute certainty that morale, productivity and pride will all suffer. It has to be tough for NASA, to have accomplished so much, to have achieved such goals, to have been at the forefront of innovation, and know the end is literally just a few days away. Imagine what could be if only there was a goal.