The HR Juggler

Day 2: A Lesson From Apollo 13

Posted on: December 2, 2011

The really lovely thing about inviting guest posts during December, is that the offers to write blogs have come from all sorts of different people, some of whom I know well, and others who I hardly know at all. Today’s blog post comes from Jon Bartlett, one of my most recent Twitter connections and someone who I have really enjoyed connecting with over the past few days. Jon is a coach and you can find him on Twitter (@Projectlibero) at his website and on his brand new blog.


It’s been a tough year for most people. Economy failing, debt levels high, threats to job security and a general sense of foreboding across the nation. Wherever we look there is scandal and discontent; if it’s not bankers it is politicians. If it’s not protestors rioting, it is police complicity in media lawlessness. There seems to be no end. And yet…. When Alison offered me a chance to write a guest slot on her blog she extended the kindness and openness I want to have in all my dealings both professional and personal. I mean, she doesn’t know me and yet she was offering me a chance to write for her blog, putting her own credibility on the line in the quest for a broader understanding.

I wrestled with what to write: horror or highlight? I tinkered with a few things that seemed to cover both. Do I write about my panic attack on a mountain whilst climbing alone last winter, or a big bike crash as I cycled the South Downs Way? I could write winningly about how I overcame the obstacles and succeeded, but it didn’t feel right. I looked down at my list of other blog titles (I can always do the titles, it’s the text I struggle with). Would you appreciate a blog on “Strong and challenging marmalade” or “The Adjustment Bureau”? Both of them titles I will be writing on soon, now that this kind invitation has enabled me to break through my own limiting beliefs on blogging and my aptitude for it.

So why did I call this a lesson from Apollo 13? Well if you’ve seen the film you may have an idea where I’m going with this; for those who haven’t, let me set the scene. There are 3 guys drifting in space and their oxygen is dropping, the machine which cleans the carbon dioxide out of the air is broken and because the two parts of the spaceship were built by two different government tenders, the units in either module are not interchangeable. Back in Houston, the mission controller walks in to a room of technicians. He briefly explains the situation and asks them to construct a new filter out of some manuals, some duct tape, random bits of spacesuit and some socks. At no point does he bemoan their situation; he doesn’t seek to blame anyone, to pass the buck. No, he gets straight in to the solution and says let’s build the answer to this problem.

So as we get to the end of 2011, having safely negotiated all the problems our world has had to throw at us, this blog post is making a promise for 2012. I will be in the outcome, not the problem, I will take ownership and action on the issues I can influence and not become de-motivated by things beyond my control. Oh and I will blog again. I invite you all to join me, (whatever your personal solutions are) in getting things done and making a small difference. Perhaps if we’re all doing it, then it will catch on.

A very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year


I’d love it if you would contibute a guest blog for this Advent Calendar of posts…I still have plenty of slots left to fill! You can get in touch with me at this blog or via Twitter @AlisonChisnell

2 Responses to "Day 2: A Lesson From Apollo 13"

[…] The common thread (as I see it) is that we are all seeking ways to explain and codify our lives. Stories have always been important and right now with the recession biting harder and deeper we want better stories, better metaphors to help make sense of our existence, to assure us of our place in the world. Movies offer that, with the combination of great visuals, great music and a dash of wish fulfillment making a potent combination. I don’t think there is anything wrong with such escapism, it can be useful to identify with a character, it can help you find your own voice or measure yourself against their perceived values and of course in some cases it can be an inspiration. […]

[…] this series ran last year I was one of the first to volunteer. I had never written a blog and decided that a guest appearance would be an easy taster and help me […]

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