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May 2019

Two Competitors Who Make Each Other Better: Bezos and Musk

Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk are taking their Moon Shot and Mars Shot, respectively. Bezos’ company, Blue Origin, promises to get us back on the moon by 2024…55 years after NASA astronauts first landed on it.  While 24 Americans have landed on or flown around the moon, Moon settlement was never in NASA’s plans. But it is in Bezos’ plans.

No human has ever landed on Mars, but 11 robotic probes have including 4 Mars rovers.  Elon Musk has announced that SpaceX will land on and colonize Mars by 2024, and with tongue-in-cheek indicated he would be there to welcome the NASA astronauts who would be landing on his Mars colony sometime after 2030.

We are living in the most dynamic times that modern humans have ever experienced.  It’s science fiction coming true. We are challenged with problems, both large and small, that we could never have dreamed of even 5 years ago.  To manage and thrive in these extraordinary times, two factors are required: healthy competition and ever-present resilience.

COMPETITION:  Nothing can make us better than the push and shove of honest competition.  Without a competitor or a higher bench mark, we become complacent.  “Playing up” is the art of having the courage to find competitors who are more creative, faster, and successful and then playing up to their level.  “Playing up” pushes people and organizations.  It makes us go after dreams we would not have otherwise thought possible.  We run faster and longer.  We work smarter. Records are broken.  New goals are achieved. The same heat that melts butter forges steel.

RESILIENCE: Resilience is at the heart of every success – big or small.  It  helps an organization mitigate stress, maintain important relationships, and continue to support critical initiatives that are sagging. Resilience is staying emotionally intelligent, being curious, and making a difference every day, knowing it will be cumulative.  It’s not contributing to anger, gossip, or negativity.

Resilience is reframing even the most difficult circumstances with lessons learned.  It’s choosing to look ahead with optimism–maybe cautious optimism–and directing thoughtful energy to create positive outcomes. Building resilience, corporately and personally, is the best safety net.

The goal of intense competition, whether between Bezos and Musk or any other worthy competitors, is to prevail with optimal solutions. We are all here on this mote of dust called earth, and with more good solutions in our future, we will continue to be here for many years to come. The outcomes of competition and resilience will bring much value and benefit to humankind, wherever we choose to live.


Past Articles:

Don’t Look Down

Why Leaders Must Think Differently

The NASA Leadership Experience – An Update

Everyone is Lucky

What is the NASA Leadership Experience?