On Friday, October 18, I watched bits and pieces of the first, woman only, spacewalk. Now to be clear, the two women, Jessica Meir and Christina Koch were supported by a team that included both men and women.
The event was historic, but it was also inevitable. Jessica and Christina’s graduating class in 2013 was 50% women.
There was a time not that long ago when women were not allowed to go out into space. I’m just old enough to remember watching Neil Armstrong’s first step on to the moon. We can all recite his historic words in our sleep: “One small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”
This isn’t an article about men and women and the moon though.
It’s about the lessons I saw from the spacewalk that can help your productivity in your business. You just had to know that’s where I was going, right?
Ok, pull on your space boots and let’s get walkin’.
Know your mission. Before anyone ever steps out into space, they determine their mission. Now in business you might think of a mission statement and you wouldn’t be far off.
In this case, I’m talking about mission as the end goal.
What is it you want to accomplish to move your business forward?
The mission of Friday’s spacewalk was to replace the battery charge/discharge unit on the International Space Station.
They knew this would take approximately 5 hours, but it all went swimmingly, so they chose to do some forward work while out there.
Can you imagine the focus levels needed to work 7 hours straight in space? Amazing. At some point, I would be looking for the nearest bathroom. And you just know I had to look this up because I’m a curious sort. Astronauts wear a MAG, which is a Maximum Absorption Garment. That’s a fancy word for a supersize Depends. But I digress.
So now that they have the mission, they need to assemble the team. The sheer size of the team needed for two people to take a spacewalk boggles the mind. No astronaut would say that they took that journey alone.
What I found most fascinating was the delicate balance between communication time and focus time. Words weren’t minced. Orders were communicated politely but without chit chat, as my friend’s second grade daughter likes to call the lengthy conversations her mom and I have. Kids don’t mince words either.
Communications may have been short, but they were always polite and respectful. And there were occasional expressions of gratitude and even a few quick jokes.
I was truly impressed with the handling of a glitch.
Everyone was waiting around for what was to happen next. Finally, a person spoke up. The astronaut apologized and everyone grew silent again so she could focus on the fix.
There’s a lot we can learn from this moment:
• Respectfully speak up when there’s a problem
• A quick apology is plenty. No need to go on and on.
• Focus on fixing the mistake.
Onward. Sometimes we make these things far more complicated than they really are. If they can keep this simple in space, then we can too.
The last thing I noticed was the many systems needed to keep things moving smoothly in space. I’ll just mention two that we can use in our daily productivity.
The first is that the team checked the basics regularly – gloves, batteries, tools etc.
Take a moment in your day to check in with yourself on the basic tasks.
• Are you doing the right things to move the mission forward?
• Are you doing them efficiently?
• Do you even need to be doing them at all?
• Could you delegate some of those tasks?
I write my own content, but I delegate the posting of it to my virtual admin. I know she’s far better than I at all that background tech stuff. Remember I’m the person who’s still pretty sure that tiny hamsters run the computer.
The second is color coding. The green wire was attached to the yellow hook and the red wire was not to be touched. I made that up, but you get the idea.
I’m a visual person so color coding works well for me. The files I need to work on right away are red, as are the tasks in my calendar. Client work is in green for time I’m making money. And I use a lighter shade of green for my networking time.
Color coding could be an easy tool to add to your productivity kit. On a side note, did you know that tools dropped in space are classified and tracked as their own satellites?
Aaahhhh the lessons we learn from space.
I’m launching a brand new group program EPIC Office Transformation. It starts Tuesday, November 12th. Want the tools? Let’s talk: http://bit.ly/SchedCallPBD
What’s your satellite?
How can you be tracking it and making it better?
See you on the dark side of the moon.