California Dreaming NASA-Style

I left my safe and warm place at NASA HQ to visit three NASA Centers in three days in California – Dryden, JPL, and Ames.  It’s been three weeks since my last post.  No time for blogging – need to spend time drinking from a fire hose … or drinking from 3,000 Dixie cups. 

I knew I was going to blog about the trip, but couldn’t really decide what to write about and didn’t have much time to think about it.  Perhaps I can talk about being at Dryden  and learning of the hope of aeronautics research or flying the flight simulator and safely taking off, landing, out maneuvering my Deputy CIO for IT Security without ejecting myself or hitting the ground.  Perhaps I can talk about my feelings of gratitude that JPL and its legacy of planetary exploration was spared from the unforgiving brush fires.  Perhaps I can talk about the courageous innovators of Ames, their technology contributions, their hyperwalls, or their hypervisors. 

I almost forgot why I blog in the first place — leadership, learning, transparency.  Now I know what to blog about – the Joshua Tree.  A Joshua Tree

I need to tell you that I didn’t see too many Joshua Trees growing up in Washington, DC and I was curious about them.  Dryden CIO Rob Binkley told me that the important thing to remember if you get into a disagreement with a Joshua Tree and your car, it will win.  Its deep root system makes it strong and resilient.  Those are pretty convenient qualities of leadership.

The tree got its name from Mormon settlers thought the shape of its branches reminded them the Biblical story where Joshua reaches his arms up to heaven in prayer.  As the story goes, this was essential in his early success.  Furthermore, the tree was a valuable resource used for fencing and for fuel. 

Finally, it’s Joshua himself and how he personifies transitional leadership.  With a tough act to follow, his faith, resilience, and resourcefulness provide valuable lessons to leaders as they assume new leadership roles.

California Dreamin’ on such a winter day.  I always liked that song, but I never really understood the lyrics until now.  It’s really about transition and the inevitability of leaving your warm place and moving forward to the coldness of future leadership challenges.   

Linda Cureton, CIO, NASA


6 thoughts on “California Dreaming NASA-Style”

  1. Good Girl. Learning that challenges in life are not always easy. You show the determination that it takes to accept these kinds of challenges. To step up, into situations that others might have backed down from. This is what NASA stands for. People who have accepted these kinds of challenges, and made a difference for an Organization that is so well respected within this World. It is actually a priviledge for me to be able to congratulate you on your Promotion. NASA has made a great choice in their selection to have someone of your caliber, to step up into this position, and represent what NASA has stood for, for all these years. I know you will do an outstanding job as the new CIO of NASA. It is because of people of your quality, thought the years, of stepping into the leadership roles, that has made NASA one of the greatest organizations that this world has ever seen, and looked up to.
    I wish you the best in your endevors, and more so in the Success that you will bring to the organization. Once again I interate the choice that NASA has made in choosing someone of conviction and willingness to make the hard choices that will further the advance of space expoloration, and the Information Technology, that is needed for our contributions to an ever changing world.

  2. Many institutions limit access to their online information. Making this information available will be an asset to all.

  3. Linda – I know where you are coming from. If you need a California fix, you are welcome to visit at I think you will agree that leaving my URL is warranted, given the subject matter and the emotions involved. There really is no place like California.

  4. Thanks for the wonderful post reminds me of the time I meditated near the famous Joshua Tree.

    Ms. Gen Taki

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