For many people, hitting a bullseye with a dart from 7 feet 9.25 inches away can be a challenge. But what if the target was 6.8 million miles away? How could such an aim even be possible?
We’re about to find out.
On November 24, 2021, a team of scientists directed by NASA from Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory launched their own DART aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.
This DART (Double Asteroid Redirection Test) is on a 10-month mission headed for Dimorphos, a 160-meter moonlet of the much larger asteroid Didymos. This “vending machine-sized ship” is set to hit the bullseye in late September 2022, at a speed of about 15,000 miles an hour, in an effort to alter its orbit.
If DART hits its bullseye, it will be a historic achievement, demonstrating that humans are capable of altering the course of an asteroid through a tactic known as the kinetic impactor technique. While Dimorphos does not pose a threat to Earth, the mission will provide valuable data in preparation for potential future threats to Earth.
There’s much we can learn from these scientists, and not the least of which is how the best time to prepare is not in times of trouble, but rather when we have the time to engage in the process of creating, testing, and reflecting.
And this also highlights the value of process goals rather than outcome goals:
When we derive value solely from the outcome of our efforts, we become prone to burnout and disappointment—because even the best-made plans of mice and men often go awry.
Consider how a gardener can never force a flower to bloom. Yet, what the gardener can do is engage in the process of tending to the causes that promote growth—by planting good seeds in rich soil and by providing sufficient water and sunlight.
The process that rocket scientists are engaging in today is a continuation of a process started well before they were born, and the fruits of their continued labor will not be enjoyed until well after they are gone.
For them, value is not derived in the outcome—for if it were, they would be destined for disappointment. Rather, it is derived in the daily labor of the process—like a gardener enjoying a spring day by tending to their garden.
As the perennial proverb reminds us: “The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The second best time is now.”
Whether our goals are 7 feet 9.25 inches away or 6.8 million miles away, finding joy in the process can be a worthy aim for our proverbial darts.
How are you tending to your metaphoric garden? Are you only happy when flowers bloom? Or are you able to enjoy the process of tending to the causes that promote growth?
Jonas Cain is an educator, facilitator, and coach, working to engage, empower, and encourage leaders and the people they serve to experience joy.