Perspective is “having a sense of proportion, knowing the relative importance of things”. It helps you navigate through problems and life, especially in making decisions, in knowing what’s important and what’s not. It helps you know when to “go back to the drawing board and when to pull the plug”.
On April 11, 1970 Apollo 13, NASA’s third moon-landing mission, launched from Cape Canaveral, but the astronauts never made it to the lunar surface. An oxygen tank explosion almost 56 hours into the flight forced the crew to abandon all thoughts of reaching the moon. Somewhat like the Coronavirus, Apollo 13 had the entire world riveted on their very near disaster. Gene Kranz was the flight director of Apollo 13. A graduate of St. Louis University’s Parks Air College, he led the response to bringing everyone home safely. “When making the movie Apollo 13, the flight team was asked “weren’t there times when everybody, or at least a few people, just panicked?” The answer was “no, when bad things happened, we just calmly laid out all the options, and failure was not one of them. We never panicked, and we never gave up on finding a solution.” That takes perspective.
The title of Kranz’s biography is “Failure Is Not An Option.” Kranz, a strong Catholic, always kept a prayer book by Bishop Sheen with him. He said I pulled this prayer book out many a time. I’ve been asked if I ever felt stress. No matter, I always felt the presence of God in my work and life.”
Perspective was at the heart of getting Apollo 13 home…. a focus on “what was vital and what could be pushed aside…. expertise and dedication and hard work, but most importantly the presence of God. For each of us in our times of trial, let us remember that we should do our very best, but most importantly remember that God will have the last word. That’s perspective.