Greetings. At a time when more and more Americans are moving closer to each other, it's amusing to think that the very closest neighbor in our solar system that might support life is Mars. The "Red Planet." Home planet for the often scary and sometimes adorable Martians of science fiction and TV fame. Who can forget the 1960's television show "My Favorite Martian" (assuming, of course, that you were watching TV in the 1960's)? In the show Ray Walston plays an anthropologist from Mars whose one-person spaceship crash lands outside Los Angeles. As he works to rebuild his ship in order to return home, we learn of his amazing abilities to read minds, communicate with animals, levitate objects, become invisible and even get people to work faster. Sound like pretty useful skills for your company or organization?
But back to our story, because the real purpose of the Curiosity Rover (a.k.a. the "Mars Science Laboratory")–which was launched this past Saturday–is to search for evidence that Mars was once home to microscopic life. And it will use its very cool and advanced tools to begin this task as soon as it arrives and gets settled…in a mere eight and half months. So if you thought that NASA was busy scouring the universe for signs of intelligent life, you'll just have to wait a little bit longer. Or spend a bit of time doing your own search for signs of intelligent life and innovative ideas right here on our planet! Ideas that most of us are determined to avoid out of fear that they might cause us to think differently about the strong beliefs and ways of doing things we hold dear.
As for Mars, there are several interesting facts to know even if there aren't any real Martians. First, Mars is much smaller than Earth–having a diameter about half the length of ours. Second, Mars has a pretty thin atmosphere–which means that if earthlings did land there we could probably create some major climate change with only a couple of Cadillac Escalades. Third, Mars has the largest mountain in the solar system and it makes Mt. Everest look decidedly wimpy. Called "Olympus Mons," it stands 78,000 feet high (or 24 kilometers high for those of you who use the more logical metric system). That's almost three times the height of earth's tallest mountain. And fourth, Mars has a system of canyons that make our Grand Canyon seem quaint. The "Valles Marineris" runs almost 4,000 kilometers across the Martian landscape and reach a depth of roughly four miles.
So why are we going to Mars? Maybe because it is essential to understand the world around us. Or maybe because the real potential for innovation comes by taking any journey of this magnitude. Even if we don't discover new signs of life. Innovation that will, no doubt, have powerful insights across many disciplines. And I believe it suggests some very important questions for all of our companies and organizations. Questions like…
How well do you understand the world around you?
How committed are you to stretching the bounds of your thinking about what's possible?
Is exploration in some form a vital part of your business model?
Do you have the tools required to create the future?
Are you committed to the learning that comes along the way in taking any journey that matters?
Questions that strike at the heart of what it means to be an engaged and relevant enterprise.
We win in business, space and life when we never stop learning and exploring. Because the biggest threat to our success occurs when we decide to stand still.