In January we set personal goals for the year, make resolutions in some cases, throw a Hail Mary pass at a difficult problem. Lose weight, find your new relationship or solve both and join the gym, a Hail Mary pass for sure. Making realistic, specific, measurable goals requires a plan. The plan can create change; take us from our current state to a more desirable future. That’s the purpose of a financial plan for a family, or a strategic plan for a company.
Years ago my boss told me the goals I set for myself were too easy, and therefore not goals at all. Furthermore, the plan submitted with the goals was evidence I did not understand how to plan for success. My face is easy to read, he saw what I was thinking. Yet, I learned an important lesson. When setting a goal I need to make it more difficult and stretch out to even beyond what I believe is possible. It turns out achieving what I thought was almost impossible, is possible. Every year I set goals, I have every plan I have written since 1972. And achievement has sped up over the past 20 years, I seem to be gaining momentum. But this year in the space business, this has been a tough year here in Las Cruces for me.
Planned change is something that people and organizations do annually. Then, as the year evolves, life happens and that’s why we have contingency funds in our bank accounts. Kids fall off skate boards, hail takes out a roof, or your largest customer goes out for a flight test and their vehicle comes apart. Stuff happens, and planned change is out the window.
New Mexico’s Spaceport America doesn’t have the luxury of implementing a well evolved marketing strategy backed up with a ten million dollar budget for marketing and recruitment. Their leadership must act now. Those involved with the spaceport are moving quickly given this new environment. They are responding to unplanned change.
This is an extreme example that we are right in the middle of as residents of Dona Ana County. Spaceport America is one of only 9 FAA licensed spaceports. This is the total number of licensed commercial spaceports that exist since humans have been on the earth. Building and operating a spaceport is in itself a risky proposition. No risk, No reward.
While preparing my goals for 2015, I went to one of my fundamental sources for inspiration, Napoleon Hill’s book Think and Grow Rich. Here is a poem I want to share with you as I plan for 2015.
I bargained with Life for a penny,
And Life would pay no more,
However I begged at evening
When I counted my scanty store.
For Life is just an employer,
He gives you what you ask,
But once you have set the wages,
Why, you must bear the task.
I worked for a menial’s hire
Only to learn, dismayed,
That any wage I had asked of Life
Life would have willingly paid.
We New Mexican’s have taken a risk. There is a difference in wishing and acting for a thing, we have acted. Yet, we in New Mexico are not yet ready for this industry until we believe and act to acquire this entire business with its strengths and weaknesses. We are readier today than we were last September. Now we understand we must ask of this industry, ourselves and our leaders. Expect to succeed. We must expect in the light of reality, then plan, get very specific and act. And know if don’t take no for an answer, we ask, we plan for the best case, demonstrate we can achieve a great vision, we will succeed.
During the Christmas break I struggled. The space business is foreign to so many people. It’s constantly draining talking to people who think having a space focused technical economy in southern New Mexico with our unskilled workforce is just unrealistic. The pressure is constant on our leaders to go with the easy wins. After working on this project since 1991, we have a spaceport now and still it is not enough. Well, it is not enough, not yet.
Failure is the habit of quitting when one is overtaken by temporary defeat. All these little defeats, year after year, are temporary. But they add up, and wear one down. True. But the habit of quitting is one I never acquired. My struggle turn around happened during a conversation with Mr. Ernesto Olivas, President of ERO Intermodal Services. I was invited by MVEDA to attend Mr. Olivas’ ribbon cutting ceremony. My intent was to observe what is growing in the Santa Teresa port area and hopefully become inspired again about what is possible for Spaceport America one day, as it too is a port.
After the ribbon cutting, Mr. Olivas was talking about how much business is already coming to him, from friends and even one of his high school buddies. He said, my buddy wants to park his crane in my empty yard and pay me rent. He won’t take no for an answer, so I said ok, let’s do it. That was it. His buddy was a man with a specific need and purpose, and he got what he wanted. Made it clear, he wanted from life what life was willing to pay. I’m back and inspired, and I won’t take no for an answer. That’s my personal planning statement and I’m sticking to it.