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Astronauts on Apollo 13 Could Have Died, Their Fear Saved Them

Astronauts on Apollo 13 Could Have Died, Their Fear Saved Them

In 1970, astronauts aboard Apollo 13 were in a dire situation. They were going to land on the moon, but after an oxygen-tank explosion, the three men had to move to the lunar module of their spacecraft so that they could safely return home. There was just one problem with this plan: the lunar module was only designed for two men for a period of 36 hours. They needed enough air for three men for 96 hours. They would suffocate if they could not remove the CO2 from the air.[1]

The odds were against them, but the team at NASA didn’t give up. Motivated by fear of losing their guys, they gathered the materials that they knew the men would have on the lunar module and challenged themselves to make a CO2 scrubber.

Even though the mission didn’t turn out the way NASA had planned, the story has a happy ending. The emergency system that NASA developed on the fly saved the astronauts’ lives.

Fear drove the NASA team to be more creative.

Many people believe that creativity will only flourish when someone has lots of time and freedom. It’s true that people that feel too frightened or under too much pressure will have a hard time producing. Sometimes a small amount of fear pushes people to be extra creative.

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Fear Is a Protective Fence

There is such thing as a healthy amount of fear. Fear keeps us from taking big risks, and it helps us stay safe.

Your amygdala, the primitive part of your brain, is responsible for your impulse control and fear.[2] The amygdalae are the home of the fight or flight response. Being frightened all the time is not good for us, but having enough fear to prevent us from making bad choices keeps us from engaging in risky behaviors.[3]

    The Problem With the Fence

    When people are playing it safe all the time, it’s easy to fall into a routine. Our brain loves the idea of routine because it can go on autopilot. When something works, there’s no need to change anything.

    This is the comfort zone. It’s a safe place, but there isn’t much going on here. There’s no pressure to improve anything because everything seems to be moving along just fine.

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      We all need breaks from pressure once in a while, but if we are always comfortable, we can never grow. When we don’t have to worry about anything, there’s nothing to stimulate innovation.

      Problems motivate you to find solutions. Changes lead to adaptation. If you have an issue that you can’t solve right away, you’ll keep working on that problem in your mind – even if you don’t realize it. Problem solving like this causes us to put more energy and attention into dealing with the issue.

        The space between what we have and what we want is sometimes called creative tension. Having a gap between our reality and a desired outcome may be stressful, but prompts us to do our best work.[4]

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        The Fence Is Unnecessary

        You don’t really need that fence. The person who has no reason to make changes will continue on the same path indefinitely. Tension and new circumstances motivate creativity. Sometimes we need a little push to reach our full potential. Tighter deadlines, new tools, a different team, or an accident can spur you to tackle problems in new ways.

          Pixar, creators of some of the greatest animated films of our time, had to rethink their creative process. Instead of teaching people to avoid failure, they changed their culture to encourage people to fail quickly. Instead of creating crippling fear around making mistakes they worked to develop a sense of creative tension.

          This healthy amount of fear allows people to be okay with being wrong early in the process. They are willing to try new things. The creative tension that they experience makes their fear a friend to their creativity.

          Use Fear to Get You in Gear

          Living with too much fear every day is unhealthy. Your brain naturally tries to avoid being put under so much stress. Use creative tension to look at problems in new ways. You’ll see new perspectives and options you never noticed before.

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          Taking on a new role, working in a different place, and new people and tools can push you to try things outside of your normal routine. Your routine won’t inspire change by itself. Having to adjust to new situations can help you look at things in ways you never saw them before.

          This new way of thinking is the seed for creative growth. If you are becoming to relaxed or complacent, you may need to create change for yourself. To experience some creative tension:

          • Set a deadline. If you don’t have a due date for a project, create your own. This will keep you from procrastinating and force you to think about the problem.
          • Come up with a more ambitious target. When what you’re doing feels way too easy, challenge yourself. You’ll be less likely to get bored, and you’d be amazed at what you can come up with.
          • Change your routine. Doing the same thing every day or completing a task in the same way keeps you from reaching your creative potential. Doing something just because you’ve always done it that way isn’t a good enough rationale. Think about new ways to do what you do.

          Not every kind of work gives you the flexibility to make changes to your role. You may be expected to do things in a certain way. Even if you can’t alter your role, you can change how you think about it. No matter what your job expects of you, you are always free to challenge yourself to think about things from a new angle.

          You can think about how another person might think about the work that you are doing. If you were the CEO of the company, how would you feel about the work? If you are performing a service, what would you want as a customer. These new perspectives can make you think about what you do in new and exciting ways.

          Sheer terror isn’t going to make you a better worker, but creative tension can push you to do incredible things. People can’t innovate when they stagnate. Find ways to break out of your comfort zone and embrace the creativity that comes from a challenge.

          Featured photo credit: Pixabay via pixabay.com

          Reference

          More by this author

          Leon Ho

          Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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          Last Updated on November 24, 2020

          50 LinkedIn Influencers To Follow, No Matter Your Industry

          50 LinkedIn Influencers To Follow, No Matter Your Industry

          LinkedIn is an excellent platform to network with great people to help you in your career and businesses. However, with over 575 million people on the site, who should you follow? This list will steer you to the right people to follow, organized by categories of expertise.

          Job Search Experts

          You will likely have several jobs throughout the course of your career, and you will constantly need advice on new trends and strategies out there in the job market. Here are the LinkedIn experts who you should follow on these matters.

          1. Liz Ryan is the CEO and founder of Human Workplace. Her articles on job searching are filled with creative and colorful cartoons.

          2. Lou Adler is the author of The Essential Guide for Hiring and Getting Hired.

          3. Dr. Marla Gottschalk will help you make an impact in a new job.

          4. Hannah Morgan runs CareerSherpa.net, where she gives expert advice on job searching and how to be more visible online.

          5. Alison Doyle is the CEO and Founder of CareerToolBelt.com.

          Management Experts

          They say that people leave managers, not jobs. These experts in LinkedIn will help you become your employees’ dream manager.

          6. Jeff Weiner. How can we leave out the CEO of LinkedIn himself?

          7. Nozomi Morgan is an executive coach. She can help you transition from a boss to a true leader.

          8. Mickey Mikitani is the CEO of Rakuten. He constantly shares his expertise in managing a global player in e-commerce platforms.

          9. Andreas von der Heydt was the head of Amazon’s Kindle Content and now the Director of Talent Acquisition. He has extensive experience in management, branding, and marketing.

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          Productivity Experts

          By maximizing your productivity, you can win in all aspects of life. The following LinkedIn experts will help you win big in your career.

          10. Gretchen Rubin is a happiness coach and the bestselling author of the The Happiness Project.

          11. Carson Tate is the founder of Working Simply. She advises us to include play in our schedules.

          12. Greg Mckeown is an essentialist. Part of being an essentialist is saying no to many things so that we can focus on the things that matter.

          13. Brian de Haaff, CEO of Aha! Labs Inc. provides strategies on how to be productive and happy at work at the same time.

          Marketing Experts

          14. Sujan Patel is VP of Marketing at When I Work, an employee scheduling software. He is an expert in content marketing and he even shares his ideas on content marketing in 2020.

          15. Megan Berry is the Head of Product Development at Rebelmouse, a content marketing and AlwaysOn powerhouse.

          16. Sean Gardner will help you navigate the social media landscape. This includes how to use different platforms to help accelerate your career. He is also the bestselling author of The Road to Social Media Success.

          17. Christel Quek is an digital and marketing expert. She is the VP of South East Asia at Brandwatch. Their products help businesses utilize social media data to make better business decisions.

          18. Jeff Bullas is a digital marketing expert. His blog has over 4 million readers annually.

          19. Michael Stelzer is the CEO and Founder of social media powerhouse site, Social Media Examiner.

          20. If you’re looking for inbound and content marketing expertise, follow Dharmesh Shah, Founder and CTO of Hubspot.

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          21. David Edelman is a McKinsey partner and is at the helm of the Digital Marketing Strategy Practice Department.

          22. Dave Kerpen leads the social media software company Likeable Local. He is the author of Likeable Social Media: How to delight your customers.

          23. Clara Shih is the CEO of Hearsay Social and the author of The Facebook Era.

          24. Aaron Lee is Grand Master of Customer Delight at Post Planner. He is an excellent resource for everything social media.

          25. David Sable is the CEO of Y&R, one of the largest advertising firms in the world.

          26. Content marketing trumps traditional marketing these days, and who else better to lead you in this area than Joe Pulizzi, Founder of Content Marketing Institute.

          Personal Branding Experts

          Part of what we market in our personal career is our brand. When people hear your name, what kind of brand comes into their mind? What traits and qualities do they associate with you?

          Here are some personal branding experts from LinkedIn to improve your own brand.

          27. Dorie Clark is the author of Stand Out and Reinventing You. He can help you craft the professional image you’ve always wanted.

          28. Dan Schawbel is the managing partner of Millennial Branding. If you’re a millennial, Dan is the guy to help you craft your personal brand.

          Other Notable Experts to Follow

          29. Lisa Gates is the expert to follow if you’re negotiating for higher salaries and promotions.

          30. If you’re a Baby Boomer, Marc Miller will help you navigate the continually changing landscape of the workplace.

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          31. To avoid getting your resumé moved to the “No” pile, read Paul Freiberger’s excellent advice.

          32. James Caan provides insightful ideas on careers in general. He is also a serial entrepreneur.

          33. Jeff Haden writes on various topics, such as leadership and management. He is the owner of Blackbird Media.

          34. If you’re looking for expert business advice on getting new customers and keeping them, follow Jay Baer.

          35. Suzanne Lucas, aka Evil HR Lady, is a great human resources specialist.

          36. If you need help in using Twitter to boost your career, Claire Diaz-Ortiz can guide you in the right direction.

          37. Ryan Holmes is the CEO of Hootsuite, a social media management tool.

          38. Customers are the lifeblood of a business and Colin Shaw focuses on revolutionizing this customer experience.

          39. Brian Solis often reflects on the future of business and how technology can disrupt our world.

          40. Nancy Lublin provides advice on more lighthearted topics, which are perfect after a long day’s work. She is the CEO behind Dosomething.org, a portal designed for social change; and the founder & CEO of Loris.ai and Crisis Text Line.

          41. Katya Andresen provides advice on how to manage your career. She was the CEO of Cricket Media and now responsible for the SVP Card Customer Experience at Capital One.

          42. Gallup has created a system to test what your strengths are and how to use them at work. Jim Clifton is the CEO of Gallup.

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          43. Adam Grant is a Wharton Professor and the author of Give and Take, which provides advice on why being helpful at work can accelerate your career.

          44. Hunter Walk is a partner at Homebrew Venture Capitalist Company and has specialty in product development and management.

          45. If you’re running a nonprofit organization, follow Beth Kanter for expert advice on this area.

          46. Emotional Intelligence is necessary to succeed in your career, and Daniel Goleman is your expert for that.

          47. Rita J. King connects science, technology and business.

          48. Tori Worthington Rose is a Creative Director at Mary Beth West Communications, LLC. She has extensive experience in sales and digital media.

          49. If you’re looking for some advice on how to use writing and personal content marketing to boost your career, follow Ann Handley.

          50. Tim Brown is the CEO at IDEO and shares his insights on Leadership and Creativity.

          These are just some of the key thought leaders and movers in various industries. They will provide you with constant inspiration, as well as the willpower to pursue the career that you’ve always wanted. Their stream of expert ideas in their respective fields will help you become well-equipped in your professional pursuits.

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          Featured photo credit: LinkedIn Sales Navigator via unsplash.com

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