A few weeks ago I joined with 740 other EO members for the EO Texas University, where we were exposed to some exciting speakers and events.  Among them were: Terry Jones, founder of Travelocity, Alvaro Uribe, former president of Columbia, Warren McDonald, who lost both of his legs during a climbing accident in Australia, and Kai Huang, who’s company RedOctane created Guitar Hero.

They were all amazing speakers, but the one I want to share with you in detail is Gene Kranz, the flight director during the Apollo 13 mission crisis (click here for the netflix movie).

describe the imageGene’s motto is “Failure is not an option!”  He led a team of young engineers through what seemed like insurmountable fear and doubt.  He helped these young engineers pull it together and deal with one crisis after another as they worked to bring the three astronauts home safely.  And to top it off, he did it front of the eyes of the world as everyone watched and prayed the astronauts would not be lost in space.  The movie Apollo 13 with Tom Hanks is a very good depiction of the real events.  (Link to movie)

Just a short time before this mission, Gene’s team at mission control listened to the dying screams of three other astronauts that burned to death in space.  On the topic of bringing home the Apollo 13 crew, Gene said “I will be damned if we are going to lose any more men under my watch.”

Gene explained to us about the Foundations of Mission Control, or core values, and how as a leader he was determined to live up to them.  I want to share them with you because I feel that they are significant principles in business and life.


Discipline – Being able to follow as well as lead, knowing we must master ourselves before we can master our work.

Competence – There being no substitute for goal preparations and complete dedication, for space will not tolerate the careless or indifferent.

Confidence – Believing in ourselves as well as others, knowing we must master fear and hesitation before we can succeed.

Responsibility – Realizing that it cannot be shifted to others, for it belongs to each of us. We must answer for what we do, or fail to do.

Toughness – Taking a stand when we must, to try again and again, even if it means following a more difficult path.

Teamwork – Respecting and utilizing the ability of others, realizing that we work toward a common goal, for success depends on the efforts of all.

Gene believes that it was the resolve to work and abide by those Foundations of Mission Control that ultimately brought the crew back safely. What are your core values and how much importance do you place on them?