Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX asked a simple question, if humans reached the Moon in the 1960s why haven't we made it to Mars yet. By all reasonable estimations, at the rate technology, availability of materials, and expertise where growing, humans should have landed on Mars decades ago. Is "determined will" missing? Are funds lacking? What, in fact, is the problem?
First, he looked at the current cost of a space-bound rocket, nearly $24 million. Next he asked about the cost of the component raw materials, less than $100,000. He thought, is it necessary to spend $24 million to put together materials that individually only cost $100,000?
Next, he purchased rockets to examine how they were assembled. He asked questions about how the components were connected, the expertise needed for assembly, and the time needed to complete the process. Given the cost of parts and the time and expertise needed he came up with the conclusion: the current cost of Rockets is what it should be. Then he walked away in disgust, knowing he could never afford such an astronomical price. Mars would never be an affordable option for space exploration. This possibility died!
Actually, that's not what happened. Elon shared the conventional thought process as he said, "Historically, all rockets have been expensive, therefore in the future all rockets will be expensive. But actually that's not true." Elon, in the midst of a dire situation, asked a liberating, essential, empowering question that can open us up to new possibilities, can give us new hope, can enable us to dream new and exciting dreams. He asked, are the established ways of doing things the only way to do things? Resoundingly he discovered this simple answer, no. No, past systems and strategies aren't always the most useful. No, past methodologies are not necessarily the best. No, past paradigms don't always help.
He wanted new results and was willing to take the worthwhile and calculated risk to try something new. Now he is building rockets commercially to transport satellites into space and some day transport people to Mars for 6 million dollars per rocket, 1/4 of the previous cost. Wow!
Elon's amazing insight transformed his way of thinking and it can ours as well. It sounds a lot like Paul's words to the Romans, "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." Romans 12:2 NIV
Young Leaders, you are not bound by past ways of doing things. New possibilities await.
So how might you actually live out this truth.
- Identify the problem you are solving. Your challenge might be writing a research paper, finding a job, feeding the poor, overcoming bullying, or building a strong relationship with someone. Clarify the obstacle you face.
- Next, identify current recommendations for solving this problem. Look online, in books, and other trusted sources of information. Do your research.
- Now, name the limitations to each strategy and consider what kinds of solutions might be available beyond the horizon of current ideas.
- Also, bring the right people to the table. Who has expertise or knowledge that you need to understand? How can you integrate their ideas and thoughts in new and meaningful ways?
- Always ask God to help you pull together these new ideas.
- Finally, develop a new strategy and act. Go for it. Failure will be a part of moving forward. Failure can be good because it increases your potential to solve your problem in a greater way than you might ever have dreamed possible.
Now, go Young Leader, and change the world!
Wil Davenport from Young Leaders