The poster pinned to the cork- board featured a simple drawing of a stickman with his hands in the air and a simple message: 90
percent of success is enthusiasm. What
makes it memorable is not the message,
but the location. This poster was about
30 feet from the mock-up of the space
shuttle used by astronauts to train in
building 9-A at Johnson Space Center.
It was posted for decades.
We speakers work hard to be paid
well to encourage people to be and do
their best. Sometimes those messages
sound simple and straightforward and,
yes, astronauts are doing rocket science. What about speakers? Is there
In fact, there is increasingly more
science telling us that what we do is
supported by quantifiable, qualitative
and quintessential proof. To the skeptical client who suggests we just offer
rah-rah, we can counter with real-real.
Out of This World
I had the great fortune to cover the
manned space program as a television
reporter for more than 20 years. The
people who design and fly spaceships
and walk on the moon are doing work
that is expensive, very public, and spectacular. Succeed and you have global
success and acclaim. Fail and you have
universal embarrassment and even
death. Yes, it is very high stakes. It takes
excellence. It takes a spirit of exploration.
It takes believing you can do what
nobody has ever done. When there is
doubt, you really need enthusiasm.
My friend Clay Anderson is a veteran
of the space shuttle and International
Space Station. He needed remarkable
amounts of enthusiasm to be able to
call himself a retired astronaut. Already
an accomplished engineer at NASA, he
applied to become an astronaut. He
failed. He tried again. He failed. In all,
he tried 14 times in 14 years and was
rejected each time. Ever the engineer, he
cheered himself saying the applications
only needed updating, not starting over,
and he worked to figure out what he
could do to be chosen.
“My motivation came through
focus, as I got my private pilot license
and SCUBA certification. I began to
feel the stress and disappointment in
the 12th year after having heard nothing in 12 attempts. So, my wife and
I headed to Seattle to visit friends
and seek job opportunities. Upon
our return, the phone rang with the
offer of my first shot at the interview.
Motivation returned!” he says.
Two more tries and he got the job.
Amy Cuddy has done some very insightful and useful research at Harvard. That
research didn’t just help create a solid
By John Getter
Right: Astronaut Clay Anderson on a spacewalk
outside of the International Space Station.