It’s another brand new day! Another day of sharing! What I’m going to share today is very light. It is just some motivation. It is about risk taking! In the sales industry, risk is always there. You don’t know if you are going to make a sale or not but you have to take the risk right? If not, you will never know if you can close that certain deal, especially if you are just standing there, thinking about the scenario all day. I have here a blog posted by Tim J.M. Rohrer of Sales Loudmouth which is “The American Spirit: Risk-taking”. Whether you are American or not, this blog can motivate you and therefore motivate sales.
The American Spirit: Risk-taking
By: Tim J.M. Rohrer
“Sometimes, when we reach for the stars, we fall short. But we must pick ourselves up again and press on despite the pain.” – Ronald Reagan
Twenty-seven years ago, space launches had become so consistently predictable that television networks no longer carried them live. This was even true of the Challenger launch on January 28, 1986 whose mission included carrying the first female astronaut, Christa McAuliffe, into space. Only the fledgling CNN was on hand to record what has become a seminal event in American history – the explosion seventy-three seconds into the 25th shuttle launch; the subsequent death of seven American astronauts and the resulting three-year lockdown of the space program.
McAuliffe was a 37-year old school teacher from Concord, New Hampshire who had been plucked from obscurity by being chosen from 11,000+ applicants as the first participant in NASA’s Teacher in Space Project. The plan was to reignite the passions of school children for the space program by broadcasting lessons about space from the shuttle after it had reached orbit. Rather than having a professional astronaut do the teaching, NASA thought it would be extraordinary to choose an educator and then train that person to be an astronaut. Ultimately, they chose two: McAuliffe and a back-up named Barbara Morgan.
Finding a more typical or ordinary American to be the first teacher in space would have been difficult. McAuliffe was born in Boston, MA and was the eldest of five children. Her father was an accountant, and her mother was a substitute teacher. She grew up and went to college in Framingham, MA – a suburb of Boston – and settled with her husband in Concord, NH. By all accounts, she lived her entire life within 100 miles of where she was born.
While her love of the Mercury and Apollo space programs have been documented after the fact, even that interest was very typical of the times. A friend of hers remembered McAuliffe saying, after John Glenn returned from orbiting the earth in 1962, “Do you realize that someday people will be going to the Moon? . . .and I want to do that!” But, this was hardly surprising as millions of American children fantasized about being astronauts in the 1960’s.
Instead of becoming an astronaut, McAuliffe became a wife, a mother of two and an educator. She was a teacher who, according to the NY Times, “emphasized the impact of ordinary people on history, saying they were as important to the historical record as kings, politicians or generals.” And so it became true that this ordinary American became part of our historical landscape – teaching lessons far beyond those available in her classroom or even those she had prepared for her space mission.
McAuliffe taught us or reminded us that ordinary Americans are still amazing humans. She sought adventure and intended to make a difference far beyond her usual circle of influence. She was a risk taker who wanted to change her life and enrich the lives of others in the process. If she hadn’t have died in the process of fulfilling her dream, we probably would have under appreciated her contribution for decades before history fully understand the meaning of her accomplishment (see Lewis and Clark for an example of exactly this type of historical revisionism). But, that’s okay, because in America we expect people to choose risk because it’s what Americans do and while we recognize it’s value, we move on quickly because its ordinary. Ordinary in the way that Christa McAuliffe was ordinary. The American brand of ordinary.
Remember Barbara Morgan? She was the teacher chosen as the back-up to McAuliffe. She became the ambassador of the Teacher in Space program after the Challenger disaster – working with NASA for a time but eventually returning to her teaching career in Idaho. If there was anyone we might have excused from a life of risk, it would be Barbara Morgan. After all, she was at the launch of the Challenger and watched the explosion live with hundreds of school children. Surely, no one would blame her for going back to a quiet life out of harm’s way. But, in 1998 Barbara Morgan gave up her safe life and became a full-time NASA astronaut. In 2007 – the year she turned fifty-six years old, Barbara Morgan flew on her first shuttle mission. The reason why you’ve probably never heard of her is that she’s an ordinary American.
This is the year that Christa McAuliffe would have turned sixty-five years old. No doubt she would have been a beloved grandmother and a pillar of her community. I like to think she would have still lived in New Hampshire and I picture her reading to children who would be oblivious that the gentle lady reading books to them was also the namesake of the library in which they had gathered.
When my children returned home from elementary school today, I asked them if there had been any mention of the space shuttle, Challenger. I was disappointed when they said “no”.
So, I showed them video of the launch and I taught them about Christa McAuliffe and Barbara Morgan and I threw in a little about Lewis and Clark and I might have mentioned Paul Revere and George Washington and just for the sake of obscurity I tossed in William H. Seward. And, I’m sure it didn’t register with them that their ordinary American lives could one day be part of the historical fabric of our nation.
But, maybe, today I took them a little closer to understanding that achievement and success are all tied to risk taking.
Perhaps, I’ve done the same for you.
How do you find the story? Does the story inspire you in some ways to take risk? If you are always on the safe side and afraid to take risk, I’m telling you, you are not living your life. Do not put your dreams behind. No one says that reaching dreams is easy but it is not impossible. All you have to do is to take a risk and you would know. Are you a risk-taker?