“The Value of Endurance”
From Minutemen to Rocket Man
Winning Leadership—Then, Now & Forever
2019: Leading from the Front! Part 5
You can call me a patriotic kook if you like, and I suppose I am, but this year’s Independence Day celebrations really got me going. Let me tell you a little bit about mine. Maybe you’ll drop a note and tell me about yours. Here goes.
Longtime readers of this column may recall that my hometown for at least the last 20 years has been Oceanside, CA. Our town, also ‘home’ to MCB Camp Pendleton, really does things right when it comes to celebrating. Oceanside was incorporated on July 3rd, 1988, so the 3rd of July is a big deal around here. We have a great celebration on that day. The community gathers for remarkable fireworks display that kicks off the Independence Day holiday for those of us lucky enough to live here.
But the 4th, of course, is even better for us. My wife, Karen, and I are able to watch (and hear!) from our backyard deck about 8 other displays from surrounding towns. This year I was particularly touched by the outpouring of community spirit, equally shared by people of all sorts of political stripe, persuasion, color, national heritage—you name it. Maybe…just maybe…people latched onto, and bought into, that time of national celebration, because it gave us relief from a lot of the bitterness and rancor which seem to abound these days. I don’t know.
But I do know this. Earlier in the day, in our Nation’s capital, our history (particularly the military part of it) was celebrated in a way that the entire country could appreciate. It seemed so right…and also so long overdue. You know, watching a parade or fireworks display on the 4th is an easy thing for us to do. We are able to do so—to see the parades and displays–because we “stand” on the shoulders of the giants who came before us!
How did we do it? How did our country begin to gain its independence those 243 years ago? Simply by picking a fight with the largest military of the day, and keeping that war going for over 8 years. Easy-peasy…right? There was a competition in the marketplace of ideas. Capitalism and a republican form of government, right here in our land, won the day over that of a distant monarchy, which taxed us but did not allow us representation. The cost? Very high for our young country…the number of American military lives lost was close to 25,000.
Defending your country and your ideals does not come cheaply. You’ve heard the saying that “Freedom isn’t free.” Thomas Jefferson reminded us that “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.” We fought a Civil War over that one. Both sides in that war contributed to a total of 620,000 military lost, cementing forever that foundational truth that “All men are created equal…”
When Europe was in trouble early in the 20th century, we responded, but 117,000 American troops were lost in that Great War. (Ironically, it was known as “the war to end all wars.”)
417,000 of our best and brightest were lost in WW2 to preserve Western Civilization. Their families still grieve the losses to this day. We, however, continue to receive the blessings of those noble sacrifices.
Our military continues to give: 37,000 KIA in the Korean War and 58,000+ in Vietnam.
Some 3,000 souls were lost in the 9/11 attack 18 years ago this month, which then led to a loss of 4,424 lives in Iraq and 2,372 in Afghanistan.
A constant through all that death, destruction and devastation was the huge sacrifice made by military and their family members, allowing us to have what we have today.
There are two lessons here. First, it’s about sacrifice. Let’s never forget that no individual…no country…no foreign government…ever gave us our independence. We simply took back what was already ours, that having been granted by God, “…certain, unalienable rights, among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Hence our righteous celebration of our Independence Day. But we did have to take them back, and that cost a ton.
But don’t miss the second lesson, which is the importance—the Value—of Endurance. See, just because we proclaimed our independence and then won it those many years ago, that doesn’t mean that evil governments and greedy people are content to let us keep it. Most of the evil and greed comes from outside our country. Unfortunately, some also comes from within. This is nothing new.
It’s always been this way, and will always be so. Hence the importance of our eternal vigilance…and why endurance is so important, whether it be of a country, a community, a business, a family.
I want to finish up by talking about that value of endurance—particularly as it applies to business. Even though the construction economy is pretty good these days, we all know that it can be cyclical. Don’t be surprised when that happens. Be as prepared as you can. Some of the best preparation advice I can give you is that you be prepared to stick it out. If you want success, you’ve got to endure. If you give up, it’s over. Let me illustrate this by using an example from OUTSIDE of construction, from someone who has really deep pockets. In other words, not the typical, too-poorly-capitalized construction business startup! In this case, it’s a billionaire with a big idea.
Elon Musk, is the founder of SpacEx, a space exploration company. He also founded the car company, Tesla. Prior to that he was involved with PayPal. But he had a great idea: rockets to launch satellites cost too much and that cost could be greatly reduced if you could only recover the pieces of the rocket and use them again. Hey…I did that a zillion years ago as a kid building and launching and recovering model rockets. And it’s much the same principle as recovering jet planes by building, flying, landing, and then re-fueling them for re-use. Makes sense, doesn’t it?
When Elon started, he used his own money, but had enough for just three launches. Each of those three launches resulted in massive, fiery, explosive failures. Practically out of money and very disappointed, he considered his options. Time to quit? Seems reasonable. Instead, he came up with another idea: he and his team managed to find enough spare parts to build one more rocket. One more chance, which would be used to launch #4. That launch was successful and proved to others that his company could do what it said.
Frank Sinatra famously once said that “The best revenge is massive success.” How massive? Elon’s BFR (Big Falcon Rocket) is the largest rocket currently out there, and features nine rocket engines capable of lifting a 220,000 pound payload (and recovering and re-using most of the parts, each launch.) Pretty massive!
Get this. When the BFR rocket was first launched, he included a full-sized Tesla Roadster in the payload section, making it the first car launched into space. Great P.R.!
Coaches encourage us to not be afraid of failing. Coach Gary would put it this way:
Never be afraid to try something new. Never be afraid to fail. But the thought of quitting because something important didn’t work out well and you are disappointed—that should terrify you.
Coach Gary says…Be in it to win it. But if you enter a marathon, be aware that you’ve got to run the entire 26 miles, 385 yards if you want to wear the badge.
Coach Gary’s Corner: Gary Micheloni is a construction company marketer, speaker, author, consultant…and a coach. Get Coach Gary to speak for your group. FullContactTeam@gmail.com And be sure and tell him about your story!