A Lesson in Business from Curiosity

Mars rover, Curiousity’s self-portrait

Recently I went to a lecture by Elsa Jensen, the woman who was in charge of the cameras on the rover, Curiosity, which landed on Mars in August 2012. Her story was inspiring because she had always wanted to be an astronaut but grew up in Denmark where there aren’t any space programs. After moving to Nebraska, she altered her goal to be a part of a space mission and 24 years later, she realized her goal.

You may think that’s a long time to realize a goal.  But Elsa pointed out that everything she did in those 24 years prepared her for her part NASA’s Curiosity mission.  What a great attitude to have!  No regrets, just gratitude.

I was especially moved by her story of the “7 Minutes of Terror.”  Did you know that after the landing of the rover on Mars there were 7 minutes before they knew if the landing was successful?  That’s because the signal from Mars takes 14 minutes to reach Earth, and the final descent took 7 minutes so that’s 7 more minutes to wait.

You can see NASA’s video, “7 Minutes of Terror” which is a graphic simulation of how the rover was supposed to land (it actually landed perfectly) here: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/video/index.php?id=1090

What struck me after her talk was how similar her story about the landing was to people who start a business.  In the case of the Mars landing, a goal was set, the actions were performed to attain the goal, and then there was a time lapse before the achievement was known.

When Elsa set her goal to be part of a space mission, she had several positions, which were only distantly related to space.  But those positions taught here skills she needed to have in order to get the position, which helped her achieve her goal of working on a space mission.  Again there was a time lapse, before she knew she was going to achieve it.

With an entrepreneur, you perform certain business activities every day, not knowing for sure whether they will pay off, and make you money.  But you still have to keep doing them just to see.  And there’s going to be a time lapse before you know if what you did, worked.

Being an entrepreneur can be as scary as landing on Mars!  Picking up that “500-pound telephone” can be quite a feat! Showing up with business cards and a smile to a networking meeting can make the strongest of us weak with butterflies inside.  Designing a program and not knowing how many sign-ups you will get is daunting.  But we do it.  Why? Because as an entrepreneur, you believe in yourself.

That’s all it really takes—belief in yourself so you can withstand that “_____ minutes of terror” time lapse, when you don’t know if what you did, worked.  So, in summary, to quote the NASA video, “Dare Mighty Things!”

 

1 comment

  1. Hi Jeannette,

    Thank you for this inspiring story. This story exemplifies my philosophy and approach to life. That is the reason I don’t give up because for 9 years I have been learning, achieving, contributing to make the space (I occupy), to become a better world both for others and myself. All of my experiences make up my character and give me the tenacity to forge ahead. I have come a long way in those 9 years when I barely knew how to turn on the computer to the stage that I can write a blog, upload an image. Those baby steps give me the courage and the confidence to “Dare Mighty Things.”

    Have a great day!

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