Byron's Babbles

Choosing To Go

Posted in Global Leadership, John F Kennedy, Kennedy Space Center, Leadership, Leadership Development, NASA by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on November 22, 2021

I spent this past Saturday at Kennedy Space Center on Merritt Island, Florida. Having been born in 1963 with John F. Kennedy as my President and him having made the iconic “We choose to go to the Moon in this decade…” speech, it was overwhelming to reflect on all that has happened in my now almost six decades. The Space Race and the fact that the Soviets were winning that race were what really prompted this audacious goal of President Kennedy’s. We rose to the challenge. In fact, we took that goal that so much farther than just placing “a banner of freedom and peace” on the moon.

But what does it mean to have had all of these experiences? Each decade brings new opportunity to become the best at something. If we want to live a life full of significance, we must recognise the strengths and opportunities each decade brings us. In fact, while doing a lit review of this, I found that in our 50s and 60s our emotional intelligence becomes a superpower. It seems our cognitive abilities rise and fall asynchronously during our lifespan. This is why it is so important for me and all the rest of us to stay significant. As someone now with decades of life experience, I realize I can understand the world better than most.

As I took a walk back in time on Saturday with my NASA friends, I realized I can relate to the needs and passions of many. I also, most of the time, can make sound decisions, listen, resolve conflicts, and communicate clearly. This developed skillset makes me the perfect mentor/coach when it comes to ideas, products and services, organizational strategy, and new policies. The fifth and sixth decades are the age of being visionary. And, there is even more to look forward to in my seventh decade. According to Igor Grossmann, et al., our ability to reason gets stronger in our sixties and seventies. This research showed that as we age we use higher-order reasoning schemes that emphasize the need for multiple perspectives, allow for compromise, and recognize the limits of knowledge. This humility and desire for deeper learning really jumped out at me. It is important for me to practice intellectual humility. We should all hone our ability to admit what we don’t know.

I realize that the space program was in existence before I was born, but just two years before I was born President Kennedy solidified that each decade would bring new adventures, discoveries, challenges, and uniquely wonderful moments. So, no matter what decade of your life you are in, embrace the expansive growth and wisdom that each year brings. And, make sure you are seeking that next mountain to climb. Where will you choose to go?