The Smell of Future

I love the smell of September in Washington, DC, it smells like the future.  It always reminds me of the joyful expectation of going back to school; the anticipation of learning new things; and it’s the ever-so-slight sense of urgency caused by the recently-noticed shortening of days.    It’s the scent of cool crisp mornings with a hint of humidity in the air; and it’s the aroma of the blossoms of the crepe myrtle as they accelerate their descent to the ground.

I was in a brainstorming meeting last week with a group discussing goals of a Maryland Science, Exploration and Education Center (SEEC) at Goddard Space Flight Center.  The objectives of the SEEC include inspiring, engaging and educating the next generation of scientists, engineers and technologists; providing compelling experiences to all to increase understanding of Goddard Center Director Rob Strain (left) and SEEC President Kam Ghaffarian sign the Space Act Agreement. Credit: NASA/Bill Hrybykour home planet and our place in the Universe; and to create a destination of choice that effectively showcases NASA and Goddard’s current work.  To help the group see the possibilities and get our creative juices flowing, someone put up a quote from Edwin Powell Hubble:

 “Equipped with his five senses, man explores the universe around him and calls the adventure Science.”

I sat aside for a moment the fact that as I enter the second half century of my life, these five senses are becoming increasingly insufficient for exploring this adventure called life. After that, I realized that this was a pretty cool quote for many reasons.  I did a little inventory of the five senses and then came to smell.  It wasn’t surprising that this whole notion of establishing SEEC smelled like September.

Some folks are examining the phenomena of synethesia and clairalience where one could acquire other sensory knowledge or psychic knowledge through smell.  This notion of the smell of success might not be too goofy.  Consider a quote from the movie Apocalypse Now that says,

“I love the smell of napalm in the morning. Smell(s) like victory.”

As leaders strive to inspire and engage, we need to fully understand the power of senses like smell or even taste.  Many have heard the expression, often said of players on winning sports teams, they wanted the win so bad, they could taste it. 

Senior Executives will establish new performance objectives for the year; I will have a leadership team retreat to establish my Directorate’s annual goals; and in the government, we will approach the start of a new fiscal year.   Frank Sinatra sings to us in September Song:

Oh, it’s a long, long while from May to December
But the days grow short when you reach September
When the autumn weather turns the leaves to flame
One hasn’t got time for the waiting game

Hope, inspired future, sense of urgency.  I now appreciate the synchronicity of events recently and why it smells like September.   

Linda Cureton, CIO, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

6 thoughts on “The Smell of Future”

  1. Unfortunately, the Obama Administration is cutting funding for the Constellation program. It doesn’t surprise me. They have no vision for the future.

  2. If nasa is given a directive, to achieve certain goals, can’t they start their own cost cutting measures to speed up timelines? Can’t they cut personnel and rebid contracts? Can’t they better utilize private industry to achieve certain goals more cheaply? If I were in charge I would be hated, because I would go in and cut and cut and cut… and focus very tightly on a goal and getting it done asap.. The biggest expense is on personnel… Act like a private organization and just inform each group they need to cut down staff by 50%.. The others in the group will just have to pick up the slack… reduce the number of groups in the organization and just keep cutting… That will free up a lot of money and you will actually be able to afford the lofty goals in a timely manner… and despite what some may think.. it really is that easy…

  3. Tried to congratulate you, but my email got buried behind about 8,000 others (and that was the day prior to my email!) Then, tried to offer a suggestion, by email AND calling…but DGU said long shot you ever hear it, but she was nice about it, maybe she’ll tell you tomorrow…

    you never cease to amaze me…I must say, as from the days of ATF to now, I never knew that you were a Duke Ellington School grad, although, after reading way too much on your blogs, I do see how and why…very talented… My dad was a writer, many years working for the Stars & Stripes in various parts of the world, ending his career at Walter Reed.. some poetry, some short stories published, but also an inspiration for his son (lost him early)…so, I tried to write that novel, got rejected by the best of them (publisher of Hunt For Red October, but at least he offered some mentoring advice, maybe becasue a common acq. had connected us…but I digress…the net/net of all of this as I have worked with you over the years, and never knew about this talent of yours…I should have just had you do some ghost writing for me instead! NASA picked a good one in you, congrats again!

  4. Future always smells good, and idea of inspiring new generation about our future in space is best of all.

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