On our recent trip, one of the places we visited was the Johnson Space Center in Houston. I had seen one of the space shuttles in 1984 at the World’s Fair in New Orleans but had never been to a space facility. There is so much to see in this world and so many spectacular things taking place. It is one of the things that makes traveling enjoyable.

As with any tour, we were given a lot of information and were able to see some of the things that are happening behind the scenes. We took two tours while we were there and I walked away thinking about four specific things that I want to share with you.

Gifts Can Change The World
There were multiple organizations involved in making sure the Johnson Space Center was able to get off the ground. In their publications they write, “On Sept. 19, 1961, NASA announced that the $60 million manned space flight laboratory would be located in Houston on 1,000 acres of land to be made available to the government by Rice University. The land was owned by Humble Oil Co. [now Exxon] and given to Rice to give to the government. In addition to acquiring title to this donation from Rice, the federal government subsequently purchased an additional 600 acres needed to give the site frontage on the highway. A 20-acre reserve-drilling site fell within NASA’s total 1,620-acre site.” It turns out that a corporation gave the university the land who in turn sold over 1600 acres to the government for $20. The land was worth much more than that, but both Humble Oil and Rice University believed this was a project worthy of their gift. They could have extracted a large sum of money for this project had they chose that route. Instead, they believed this would be a significant project that had the ability to change the world for generations to come. When you believe in something strong enough, be willing to give even when you have the opportunity to get. Your gift may help change the world for generations. We do not always have to extract a return. Sometimes we need to believe in things enough that we are willing to give.

Collaboration Is Important
One of the things they point out to you is that the center is designed to look like a college campus. This serves a two-fold purpose. The first is to encourage innovation. The second is to encourage collaboration. Scientists and engineers from around the world come together to achieve some pretty incredible things in space that have allowed for advances in many industries on the earth. All of us are smarter than one of us. Collaboration is important in every area of our life. I have told our staff numerous times that I have the ability to make a wrong decision, but it is rare that all of us collectively will make the wrong decision. When people collaborate they have a better chance of reaching the best idea and not just a good idea.

They Have A Back-Up Plan
One of the rooms that we visited was Mission Control. There was no one in the mission control room we visited, however, we could see on the video screens an identical room in another part of the building that was actually manned. Both rooms were set up exactly the same and were both operational. If one room went down or there was some kind of problem they could immediately transfer to the other room and continue leading the operation. You could see secondary plans in almost every area we visited. Why? Because everything does not always go as planned and sometimes you need another option. Putting all of your eggs in one basket puts all of your eggs at risk. There are so many areas of your life where diversification and a back-up plan can reduce the pain when one thing does not work out like expected. If you live your life believing everything will work perfectly you will often find yourself disappointed and many times in crisis.

They Have A Long-Range Vision
In our lifetime most of us are familiar with the Apollo space missions and the Space Shuttle. As a matter of fact, we recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 and our first space landing. The current long-range project goes past the moon to Mars and beyond. It is called ORION (pronounced O-Ryan). Engineers and astronauts are working on this project to go to Mars between 2030 and 2045. Not tomorrow. Not next year. Possibly as many as 25 years away. But they are planning for it today. Their vision is bigger than 2019. They have a vision that goes beyond the lifetime of some of those working on it. We all need a vision for our life. Where are you headed and how will you get there? Think about today. Live in today. But live it knowing that it will have an effect of tomorrow.

What are you learning today? You will be in an environment that will allow you to learn something if you will just open your eyes or take a few minutes to listen. As you learn you will grow. As you grow, everyone around you will benefit.

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