First, let me clearly state that the NASA team, under the steadfast leadership of Gene Kranz, displayed amazing teamwork, collaboration, and creativity under intense pressure. The results speak for themselves … astronauts brought back to earth alive.
However, that said, you can add the famous line about failure not being an option to my list of things I will never say …
Failure is ALWAYS an option, but that reality does not make failure attractive or inevitable.
I find it interesting that the Kranz quote is used extensively by others to show that “Can Do” attitude that we mistakenly believe is exclusively or primarily an American trait.
Remember, the mission DID fail … nobody made it to the Moon from Apollo 13 due to a catastrophic technical incident. People almost died.
Maybe the real motto should be “COMPLETE failure is not an option” …
I have never been fond of “All or Nothing” thinking or behavior. The reality in life is that we do fail, more often than most of us like to admit. We fail to do all we could, we fail to reach goals, we fail to take advantage of situations and opportunities, and sometimes we just plain fail completely and disastrously.
However, IF we learn from our failures, we might just do better next time. NASA changed procedures and protocol after the Apollo 13 mission, as any smart organization or person would do. We cannot avoid failure, but we can take advantage of it.
Failure and its aftermath gives us the opportunity to:
ACCEPT: Acknowledge that we are not perfect, which makes us humble humans, who can actually live and work with other humans more effectively.
ANALYZE: Review an event, process, or situation to determine what happened, which gives us valuable information.
REFLECT: Consider different approaches or actions for next time, which gives us alternatives.
GROW: Makes us better leaders, because only someone who has failed can completely appreciate and create a victory.
Failure is both an option and an opportunity … to learn the hard way.
Failing like crazy and learning a bunch in the Heartland ….
PS: It is not lost on me that the acronym for the above list is in Pirate talk: AARG …
Images: All from Wikipedia and in the Public Domain