crash and burn
If you’re familiar with Space Exploration Technologies Corporation – better known as SpaceX – then you probably know they’ve set some lofty goals. The company’s founder, business magnate and inventor Elon Musk, wants to make a trip to outer space possible, in the very near future, for anyone with the courage (and money) to go. He wants to send humans farther into space than they’ve ever been. He wants to colonize Mars! Musk is constantly pushing the limits of space exploration, and in the process going places, literally, no one’s gone before.
An important part of SpaceX’s vision involves the recovery and re-flight of used rockets. This is also new, innovative technology – one that can make spaceflight more affordable. In the past, many of those first-stage rocket boosters that sent spacecraft into orbit crashed into the sea or disentegrated on their descent. Musk’s plan involves vertically landing those rockets – safely and securely – on platforms in the ocean; that way they can be used again.
Recently, SpaceX released a highlight video of their many vertical-descent rocket tests. It’s actually less a highlight video and more a blooper reel. It's a pretty entertaining two minutes:
Elon Musk and his associates are driven by a powerful vision for the future of space exploration. And they see clearly that doing something big and important – something that separates them from everyone else – takes time. This blooper reel is proof that they aren’t trying to hide from the challenges that accompany the pursuit of success. In fact, they’ve fully embraced that adversity, struggle, and even failure are a part of the process that leads to greatness.
If you’re working to raise a champion athlete and man today – or, for that matter, if you’re working to build or develop anything big and important in your life – then you’ve got to see things clearly, too. There’s an important lesson we can learn from SpaceX, and hopefully some encouragement for embracing the process that leads to success (and the struggle that comes with it).
Developing the mindset of a champion will probably look for you, at least sometimes, like developing a rocket looks for SpaceX. There are certain qualities that define the successful athlete, and if you’re serious about helping your son reach his full potential, you’ll work to develop them in him, too. We talk regularly in the newsletter about those talents possessed by the champion athlete:
In reality, developing these talents is big, important work – they will separate your son from everyone else. But just like building a rocket, this process of development takes time. And embracing that process means fully embracing that adversity, struggle, and even failure are a part of the process that leads to greatness. You’ll have to accept it: sometimes your son will crash and burn.
You’ll work hard to develop his toughness, his selflessness, or his courage. You’ll see him growing and improving. You’ll feel like he’s there, and you’ll be excited for the whole world to witness it. It’ll finally be time for him to exhibit that champion’s mentality. You're sure he’s ready to take off. Then, right there in front of everyone…kaboom!
It may be tough to see him crash and burn in these areas you know are so important to his success, and in moments like these, you’ll have a choice to make. That choice will probably be determined by your perspective on what the process of growth and development includes. If you’ve naively avoided including hardship and adversity as a part of that process, then it’ll be easier for you to define your son by his failure. Seeing him crash and burn will be the sad conclusion to your story. "He just doesn’t have it," you’ll surmise, "and I guess he never will."
Or, of course, you could choose a perspective like the guys at SpaceX. Those guys have included hardship and adversity as a part of the process, and overcoming those challenges as a part of their success story. I’m not saying you’re gonna enjoy his failure; it's not like the guys at SpaceX are hugging and high-fiving when those rockets explode. But they have come to an important understanding about the reality of the process, and that understanding helps them see that crashing and burning is not how their story ends. It’s just a plot twist in the tale that leads to their success. The same can be true for you. Embracing the process means your son doesn’t have it yet, but he can and will if you both stick with it. Your vision for what’s possible motivates you to get back to work, to build something bigger and better for next time.
Someday soon, you’ll probably find SpaceX in the headlines again. Only this time, you won’t be seeing rockets crash and burn. You’ll see them doing what it is Elon Musk and his associates envisioned them doing long ago, something big and important that separates them from everyone else. Why? Because they’ve achieved their success the right way. The long, hard way. And sometimes, the ugly way.
If you’re willing to embrace all that comes with the reality of raising a champion, then I hope you’ll be encouraged today. There’s no need to hide from the challenges that accompany the pursuit of success. If you see clearly that adversity, struggle, and even failure are a part of the process that leads to developing a champion athlete and man, then it might be your son that's making headlines someday. You won’t be seeing him crash and burn. Instead, you’ll see him doing all the things champions do – big, important things that separate him from everyone else.
Subscribe to The LENS Newsletter here.