I too wanted to be that “First Teacher In Space”

I too wanted to be that “First Teacher In Space”
Thursday 28 January 2016 (30 years later)
It was just over 30 years ago, in the mid 1980’s, that the call went out from President Ronald Reagan that he wanted to put a Teacher in Space. As an American working in Bermuda as a teacher, that was all I needed to hear.  I immediately contacted NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) to send me the application form for the newly created “Teacher In Space Program”. Well what I received was not just an application but a complete package that explained all that would be required and what would be expected. Undaunted, I began to fill out the application and write the essays explaining what I intended to do and teach while I was up “there” as well as the essays that explained why I should be the choice. You may be wondering at this point, why I would be compelled to seek out this opportunity. Well the short answer is that I had been training for just this all my life. I was an Eagle Scout in my youth. I was currently serving in the US Military and had earned many levels of achievement that included the Airborne Tab (US Paratrooper) and the Pathfinder (Airborne) Badge. I was further training to get accepted into Special Forces School. But the most important reason why I was seeking out to be the First Teacher in Space was that I was and continue to be a Proud American. I scanned the heavens and realized that I wanted to be there…It was like answering a call. Not just any call but “the call”. Calls like these only come a few times in a person’s life and I was not about to let this opportunity pass me by.
Well after what seemed like an eternity, but was a couple of months, a package from NASA arrived. In it was a Mission Patch and some other papers, the most important of which, was the letter that acknowledged and thanked me for my application and that after extensive and exhaustive research a decision had been made to choose Christa McAuliffe, a 37-year-old high school social studies teacher from New Hampshire who had earned a spot on the mission through NASA’s Teacher in Space Program. After undergoing months of training, she was set to become the first ordinary American citizen to travel into space., I was greatly disappointed. I continued to follow the program and awaited the day that the launch would take place.
The mission aboard the Challenger Space shuttle was due to take place on January 22nd 1986 but was delayed due to weather. Finally the new launch day of January 28th arrived and I had my class watching on TV here in Bermuda in great anticipation of the historic moment. Finally, the count down began and the roar of the rocket engines filled my classroom over the sound system I had installed. I don’t know about my students, but I was excited because after all, even though I had not been the one chosen, I felt as if I were right there in the shuttle. Finally, the great weight of the shuttle was escaping the pull of gravity and lifting off in what appeared to be a perfect launch. But a mere 73 seconds later we sat there speechless in awe, shock and disbelief as did thousands, even millions of others watching on TV’s everywhere as the Challenger exploded in a forking plume of smoke and fire. Within an instant, the spacecraft had broken apart and plunged into the ocean. There had been hope. There always is hope that some of the Crew of 7 would survive but alas this was not to be. Needless to say, this event shocked the world and motivated me to once again write to NASA and state that I was never more committed to wish to be chosen. Unfortunately, due to this disaster, all space shuttle flights would be put on hold until 1988.
I was still in Bermuda and I was given the honor at my school to sing during a special service that was held in honor of the 7 US Space explorers: Teacher-in-Space payload specialist Sharon Christa McAuliffe; payload specialist Gregory Jarvis; and astronauts Judith A. Resnik, mission specialist; Francis R. (Dick) Scobee, mission commander; Ronald E. McNair, mission specialist; Mike J. Smith, pilot; and Ellison S. Onizuka, mission specialist.
Now, I always try to look at things from a leadership perspective and as such there is a bit more information to provide you with so that you can get the complete picture of what transpired leading up to this fateful event.
The morning of January 28 was unusually cold. In fact, there was ice present around the launch site. The flight engineers warned their superiors that certain components—particularly the rubber O-rings that sealed the joints of the shuttle’s solid rocket boosters—were vulnerable to failure at low temperatures and that the flight should be postponed once again. However, these warnings went unheeded, and at 11:39 a.m. Challenger lifted off. The results of ignoring the facts clearly speak for themselves. Later during a Commission convened to look into this disaster also found that the company that designed the solid rocket boosters, had ignored warnings about potential issues. NASA managers were aware of these design problems but also failed to take action. Clearly there was a leadership issue that chose to ignore the facts for the sake of not wanting the program to look bad. Clearly poor decisions outweighed the proper decision(s). This was not war time. This was not a case where life and limb should have been put in jeopardy but the sake of a Program was at stake and so the actions of a few still had a major impact on what would follow for years to come. At least 2 children (those of Christa McAuliffe) would grow up without their mother.
In closing and my call to action is that we have been taught to Dream from a very early age. For some of us, we have forgotten why we dream because we think that we will never be able to realize those dreams. If you had been in the position to postpone the flight, what would your decision have been? If you had been a member of this flight crew, would you still have wanted to go for it? Although it was not my destiny nor yours to be on that ill fated flight, there are an endless number of dreams that are waiting to be realized and fulfilled by people like you and me. We must never give up on these dreams nor on ourselves.
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Defining Moments Do Define Your Leadership Because Talent Will Never Be Enough! (Anniversaries…lest we forget)

Defining Moments Do Define Your Leadership Because Talent Will Never Be Enough!

There are things that have occurred in my lifetime that I choose to post on an annual basis. The air crash of Air Florida (January 13th 1982) is one of them. I am a Leadership Teacher and also a student of Leadership. A true leader must always be looking to improve and build upon that knowledge because quite clearly “Talent is Never Enough”.  And it is for that reason and purpose that I re post this event for there are many of you out there who probably have never heard about this event. I ask that you read this post for the Leadership aspects and pointers that you will arrive at. You won’t be disappointed and your comments are welcome.
We all have days and we all have moments but know this, that hidden talent and treasure abounds in you and is waiting for the key moment to come forth. Your purpose that you have been placed here for knowing that one day the circumstances of life will empower the Coach to say to you to come off the bench and sidelines of Life and get in the game because the outcome depends on You! It is “being in the moment” where suddenly you realize what your “map of the world” comes to fruition. To realize that our talents and hidden talents may indeed require taking it to the supernatural. And who knew that on that day that you woke up, the calling would be called? That your Masterpiece of Life was being framed for others to take note of because that moment of time for you was NOW!

On any given day and in any given year you can be assured that it is the anniversary of something to be remembered. All too often, the only ones who remember are the ones who were impacted by the event in the first place. Such is the case regarding the crash of Air Florida Flight 90. On January 12th 1982, it was snowing in Washington DC. It really wasn’t that big of a snow storm by today’s standards but falling fast enough to cause accumulation on the wings of the plane. Top that off with the fact that the temperature dropped to 2 degrees F. The snow fall finally ended around 3pm that day and Air Florida was the first in line to take off but the pilot in his haste to get underway decided NOT to go through the de-icing process a 2nd time. Clearly his belief that all would be fine as it had so many other times lifted, prepared and directed his talents. The jet roared down the runway but struggled, as the giant beast, to gain speed and altitude. A mile away the pilot lost control of his aircraft as it stalled and plowed into and plunged over the 14th Street Bridge into the Potomac River. The jet quickly broke up and sunk but a few people managed to get out and were bobbing helplessly in the frigid cold water.

It was now at this point, while a helicopter had shown up trying to rescue the survivors that Lenny Skutnik (who was Lenny Skutnik? A person just like you or me who reacted to a situation) suddenly appeared and without concern for himself jumped in the water and began effecting a rescue. One of the survivors in the water, Arland Williams, a man of 50, could have immediately been saved by the helicopter but passed the harness to others several times rather than save himself. When the helicopter finally came back for him, he had gone under for the last time. A total of 78 people perished that day because talent was not enough.

So what has this got to do with Leadership you may be asking? Well in John Maxwell’s Book, “Talent Is Never Enough”, he goes on to explain that no matter how much talent you have, it requires Courage, Practice, Passion, Focus and Belief just to name a few, that hones and sharpens that talent. The Pilot who erred in his decision to make the take off without exacting safety procedures allowed his perceived talents to by pass common sense.Talent was clearly not enough on his part. I am sure that Lenny Skutnik did not wake up that morning and say, “Today, I am going to put my life on the line and rescue some people”. And the passenger who passed up rescue so that others could be rescued first, clearly not only believed that he would be rescued but focused with passion that he would. We all bring talent(s) to the table of life. But we must remember to practice, prepare, focus, believe and have passion and when the time comes for us to act, we must seize the initiative and be courageous. If you are serious about being a Leader, I wholeheartedly recommend your picking up a copy of this book because believe you me, Talent Is Not Enough!

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Dealing with your Gremlin from 20,000 Feet (or from any height for that matter).

Monday January 11, 2016
We all have them. Some of us have more than one even to the point of one in each ear. Many of us seem to want to take ours everywhere we go. If that is not enough, we have had them all our lives! Yes, that is right, we have had them so far for our entire lives to date! That is of course, unless you have figured out the solution to the dilemma.
You may be wondering who and what I am talking about. I am talking about the infamous “GREMLIN”. I first learned about Gremlins back in my youth watching a Bugs Bunny cartoon whereby a Gremlin was trying to destroy an American Military aircraft. Of course, Bugs Bunny won the day. I further learned more about Gremlins around that same time in my life when I was watching a segment of the TV Show, “The Twilight Zone”. In this (what is now a Classic episode known by many) segment, a traveler on an aircraft imagines real or unreal, a creature that is determined to disrupt and destroy the aircraft that he is a passenger on. Unfortunately, no one believes his story because every time he gets someones attention, the Gremlin would disappear. But the damage did occur whether believed or not.
The History of Gremlins, elves, goblins or trolls, what ever you wish to call them goes back many many years. The story of Gremlins really came into their own during World War II when aircraft difficulties and undetermined problems were blamed on the infamous creatures. So where is this leading to and how does it fit into the general discussion of how Gremlins impact you and your life? Remember that by nature we all have at least one gremlin at any given time. That gremlin is there impacting you in your life. Impacting you dealing with your job or your family. Impacting decisions that would and should have been made.
So let’s get serious and come to the realization that these little fellows are impacting you in ways that are just not healthy. When I say healthy, I am referring to both your mental and physical health. To allow yourself to be put into a negative attitude. A defeatist mode.
Now who exactly is your gremlin? That is always a good question. It is a question that you must be prepared to answer. It is a question that you must be prepared to action. And it is a question that you must be prepared to face. Your gremlin can be any of a number of people in your life. Your parent or parents. Your spouse. A brother or sister. A relative. A long time friend. It may be a colleague at work or even your Boss!  We have all gone through times in our life that every time we decide we want to do something we end up going to someone and asking them “what do you think” or “how do you feel about this or that”. The worst of times we are made to feel guilty about a decision that we are about to make because it will change the status quo of a relationship. All too often you hear “why would you want to do that” or “you are not serious about doing that” it will ruin our friendship. Well how true that can be. But when you yield to that sort of pressure you are giving up on the dreams and goals that have been birthed in you. But the worst Gremlin of all, is YOU! Yes, your inner self that is always speaking to you. Generally though, the hardest of them all is when you start second guessing yourself. You are allowing your inner you to cause you to doubt your abilities. To feel anguish and guilt. Quite frankly, if you allow your inner self to gain control over you in any of the above circumstances your health both physical and mental will be over a period of time adversely affected. This is not a good thing and all too often will become the norm that controls you.
So what will my call to action be for you to do as a result of all of this? Well the first thing you need to do is to go out and find yourself a Coach. Oh, I know how you feel and I can even hear you saying “What do I need a coach for? I am not playing any sports.” No matter what you are involved in…you need a Coach. Someone who is going to help you to get the results that lie within you. You are also going to need to read positive things and also go out and hang around positive people. If you have never heard the story of the crabs in the bucket you will come to find out that a bucket of crabs never needs a cover because when one crab tries to get out the others pull him back in. You need to get out of that bucket and go find a new one. And most importantly, YOU need to tell your Gremlin where to go!
So today, you have a choice…keep falling prey to the destruction of your gremlin’s wishes or go out and do something about it. You’ll be glad you did!  Happily, by your conviction and change that you will not remain isolated too much longer, and free yourself from the Twilight Zone of Gremlins and self limiting beliefs. Your new positive YOU starts now!
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