It was about two weeks ago during unrest and protest in some United States cities and a global Covid-19 pandemic that an incredible event caught the world’s attention. NASA, with the help of SpaceX launched two astronauts to the space station. Why this was an incredible event? Because this was the first time in the last nine years that astronauts were going up from US soil and also it was the first ever time that a private company helped NASA do the job.
Even if you’ve never heard of the launch somehow, it’s still probably no surprise that the company behind such a feat is Elon Musk’s SpaceX. Whatever you say about Musk, sending people into space isn’t a simple achievement.
This is also a valuable message for every company now.
Smaller companies now face many tough choices. For instance, millions of small companies try to figure out how to reopen to the public in a safe manner. They’re simply attempting to find out how to start serving their clients and take care of their staff at a time when doing either of those was never harder.
I understand it — the choices you must make doesn’t really seem as decisive as choosing how to launch a human to the space, but the lesson is still the same, and the risks aren’t so distinctive for many companies. The issues are real, and the risks can be catastrophic. For certain instances, doing things right may very well be a question of life and death.
Before firing the Falcon 9 rocket on Wednesday morning, Musk did an interview with CBS This Morning. In that interview, he discussed 3 things we all can learn from how SpaceX and NASA put America back in space travel’s lead. Stay tuned!
1- Don’t fear big challenges.
There’s few items that cause more excitement and curiosity than people flying across space. Likewise, despite so much on the table, there are few items that involve meeting further obstacles, or need greater technological achievements. There is a reason why we compare every difficult and almost impossible things with space science and brain surgery.
“This is the realization of a lifetime dream. It’s a vision come true. It really seems unreal. If you’d asked me whether this will happen when I first started SpaceX, I’d be going with ‘1 percent chance, 0.1 percent chance,'” Musk said.
Imagine that nobody did unpleasant work. Imagine waking up and deciding that starting a company was too hard. Your clients and team depend on you and your vision. They count on you to do the tough activities that transforms this idea to life as a business.
2- Concentrate on what matters.
Overcoming obstacles includes concentrating on what matters the most. This involves transporting astronauts securely to their desired location — which in this case was the International Space Station (ISS). According to Musk, their health is his team’s “only concern” and is “almost all I really can think about right now.”
This isn’t different for your company. Right now, the only thing that counts is how best to take care of your employees, clients, and society. If you don’t really do that right, nothing else matters.
3- Share praise and take liability.
Someone never completes a particularly hard thing — whether beginning a company or firing a rocket — on their own. Sometimes the highest individual gets the praise, but a strong leader understands how to divide the glory.
“I’m this thing’s chief engineer, so I’d just want to say if it’s perfect, its credit must go to the SpaceX-NASA team,” Musk said. “If it’s mistaken, it’s my mistake.”
The second aspect might be the most critical concept in leadership, but it’s not something we’re seeing all too much lately. If you want people to join your idea or journey, show them you’re trying to be willing to share the credit for its accomplishment while being responsible for the result.