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Michael Gardon

  • Writer's pictureMichael Gardon

A New Way To Look At Failure. Are You NASA or SpaceX? - The Break Issue 42

Updated: Mar 13

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Today At A Glance

  • How we approach failure is how we approach life.

  • Space X blows up rockets and say's we're learning.

  • NASA doesn't tolerate blow ups, and is out of business.

  • We can influence how we fail: fail smaller and more often so the risks don't imped our progress.

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Failure. Are You NASA or SpaceX?

I watched something this week that stopped me dead in my tracks.

It’s a 17 second clip of a SpaceX rocket blowing up in mid air just 4 minutes after its launch.

Here it is go check it out, but put the SOUND ON.

What did you notice?

For me it was the CHEERING at the blow up!

That cheering came from the control room. It came from space X employees. Not our normal view of failure, right?

How we view failure is intricately linked with how we view uncertainty. Our normal view of failure tells us that it is something to avoid. Everybody in that control room should be angry, crying frustrated, mad or whatever, but that wasn't the case, right?

Whatever you think about Elon Musk, in this particular example, is great a lesson in how he relates to failure, and how he's pushed that view into the culture of the company.

If we pay attention there is a golden lesson here for how we need to think about failure in our own minds if we want to become more adaptable and build meaningful lives.

NASA vs SpaceX Approaches to Failure

SpaceX sees blowing up a rocket as progress and learning. This wasn’t a new thing for them.

They’ve actually blown up lots of rockets in their quest to figure out space exploration. This one happened to be Starship on its maiden test flight. The heaviest rocket ever, and something that had nevet been done before.

That’s not what the media tells you though. The pundits tell you this was a failure.

Media doesn’t tell you that SpaceX's tolerance for blowing up rockets directly led to the innovation of re-landing boosters to re-use them, which directly contributed to dramatically lowering the cost of rocket launches.

So much so that NASA, once the pre-eminent space exploration entity in the world, is now paying SpaceX to take payloads up in space.

NASA said re-landing a rocket could never be done. Smart engineers put their pens to paper, and did all these calculations that showed re-landing a rocket couldn’t be done. So they never tried.

This is the difference between theory and practice.

NASA spent billions of dollars every year trying to put astronauts up in space and ended up discontinuing the space shuttle program. They stopped sending in astronauts up into space. They stopped space exploration. Why is that? Frankly, because it was too darn expensive and it took too long.

NASA’s view of failure is that it can not be tolerated. NASA’s frame of mind is the perfectionist state of mind. NASA qualified every single part, multiple times BEFORE it ever went in a rocket. They had to make sure everything was absolutely perfect before they did anything.

That’s a lot of pressure to get it right. And it added a whole bunch of bureaucracy, complexity, and additional time and cost into the process. They didn’t take any new approaches. And so they were passed by.

Think about it in your own life.

Think about the times when you say so afraid of failing, that you, you overthink things. You fail to take action. You think, "Well, if I just had more knowledge, if I read another book, if I watched another YouTube video."

What happens? A day goes by, a week goes by, months go by, years go by, and you still have the same dreams, but you haven’t taken any action steps toward them.

You’re just afraid to fail.

But SpaceX’s model of failure is “we’re learning.”

They said rocket launches shouldn’t cost that much. It shouldn’t take that long. Instead of qualifying everything (there’s still a healthy amount of quality control - we’re launching rockets here afterall) they started launching rockets with nobody on them and blowing them up and trying to re land them.

They took action. They “failed” over and over and over, but they learned every single time and they figured it out and they did it.

Right now we’re NASA. We need to be more like SpaceX in how we view failure.

So my question for you in this reframe of failure is: "what rockets are we willing to blow up in our own lives?"

What are the things that we are so keyed into that we say “I’m gonna try, it’s worth trying and I am okay if this fails.”

If this blows up. How can I look at my failure as learning?

And if we’re really risk-averse about blowing up rockets, how do we Break a rocket down?

How do we make that risk of failure or uncertainty smaller, so that we can continue taking action, but it doesn’t hurt so much.

This mindset change is the key to BREAKING out of whatever constraints you are in now.

The best people at doing new things end up embracing failure. They systematically create small failures and learn from them so that when they really swing big they are confident and they make up for all the micro failures.

These are the entrepreneurs, designers and investors that are adapting and thriving.

Embracing this view of failure is a key component of my Advantage Mapping System. When you truly embrace it, you can do anything.

See you again next week.

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What’s happening on the pod?

What happens when you’ve reached “the top”, but you find it isn’t everything you thought it would be? How does being in the C-suite change the way you think about success, achievement, and happiness?

My guest this week is Clint Murphy. Clint rose to the top and became CFO of a large real estate development company based in Vancouver Canada. But I found Clint not in real estate circles or financial accounting circles, but rather, we connected around personal growth, entrepreneurship, and yes, career breaking.

The past few years, he’s been building out his future path, which is on its way to transition from a CFO to a full-time creator, coach and consultant, and PE | RE investor and owner.

It's about teaching people how to get to the top in one area, to realize what their true passion and path is, and how to move from one to the other without burning the boats or taking a ton of risk.

After all, Clint is first and foremost a husband and father to two young boys, now 14 and 11.

What does his Pivot look like? He started taking content creation seriously in August 2020, and now has over 270,000 followers on Twitter and a combined 300,000+ followers across all his social media platforms.

Clint is also the host of The Growth Guide Podcast, which he started as a hobby in 2020 during the COVID pandemic, and will be celebrating his 100th episode in 2023.

Most recently, he started the weekly Growth Guide Newsletter in February 2023, and already has 7,000 avid readers.

Clint is a lifelong learner and growth fanatic with a goal to help 1 billion people be better, achieve more and become financially free. He does this by sharing lessons from millionaire mentors, expert authors and his own life.

You can find Clint on Twitter (@ IAmClintMurphy ) and find him online at .

I hope you learn as much as I did from Clint’s approach to late state career transformation!

You made it to the end! Hopefully you learned something about breaking your career today! If so, please share this with someone you care about.

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