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.
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