A conversation I had recently about the space race from 50 years ago, prompts me to question the idea of contest driven development.
Why did the excitement, interest, and understanding about human space flight dwindle so rapidly after we “won” the race to the Moon? Why haven’t we sent any one over the last 50 years to Mars or any of the other planets for that matter? Why is it that, as it stands today, the future of human spaceflight is uncertain?
The space race was exactly that, a race. Once a clear winner had emerged, the challenge no longer stood between nations. The American public in the meantime have become largely ignorant about what is happening in space flight due to the fact that there is no main event, no clear goal, and no big challenge to rally behind. We made it to the Moon and we are done?
Robert Zubrin is an American aerospace engineer and author. In his book, Entering Space, Zubrin states that a civilization unchallenged will stagnate and succumb to entropy.
Richard St. John, author of 8 Traits Successful People Have In Common, poses in his TED Talk that entropy can follow success if we do not continue the process that led to our achievement. Richard St. John suggests that if you have reached the “top” and achieved success, it is very tempting to discontinue applying yourself. In other words, once you have arrived at your plateau it is easy to feel that there is no need to work any further. Done… Wrong! Thinking of the path to success, according to St. John, as an inclined climb up a ladder or mountain top is all wrong. Richard St. John’s career led him to great success and he thought that his path had reached it’s plateau, thus he began to ignore his clients, became mired in self-indulgent stagnation, and then his success utterly crumbled around him. It took seven years to build back up to his previous level of success. This time he had invested himself in a process along the way rather then applying a single-use ladder. This process became his way of life.
“Whether you succeed or not is irrelevant, there is no such thing. Making your unknown known is the important thing.”
The people at NASA and other scientific communities continue to work on making the unknown known. Can you say the same for yourself? In our lives we must always find new ways to be challenged and invested in the process and pursuit of success no matter what our position in life is. This paradigm will lead us to our greatest success yet.