Captain Obvious Reporting for Duty

All I really need to do is show you this picture and you already know what this post is going to say.


It’s obvious because Elon is famous for his vision and ability to execute.

What’s not so obvious is that most any of us could have this kind of vision and execution. We don’t for lots of reasons. We get in our own way, give in to our fears, doubts, limited views of our jobs as leaders in tech, or maybe you have a broad-based limited view of what’s possible in the world based on the other leaders you see, and on and on and on.

Some will read this post and disagree, which tells you a lot more about them than it does about me. I’m writing as someone who’s been right there with you, steeped in doubt and insecurity.

The weekend before yesterday’s Falcon Heavy flight, I was running in my little beach community in Los Angeles, just a few miles from where SpaceX’s mission control is located. It was warm. People had their windows open. I could hear bits of conversations as I ran (ok, it’s more of a jog, but anyway….).

In one window, a young woman, probably in her early 20s, was talking to her friend and she said, “you know, I’m starting to like Trump. I mean how can you get ahead in this world by being a nice guy?”

It’s so disappointing that this is the model of leadership we have. How are we going to progress when we live in an “us versus them,” zero sum world where the best we can hope for is to get a bigger share of a shrinking pie.

We get compelling visions from inspirational leaders because they see our capabilities as unbounded. They see the pie as growing and unlimited. To them  unlimited possibility exists in our personal lives, families, work, communities, nation, and world.

This is all obvious and common knowledge, but common knowledge is rarely common practice. Still, there’s this guy named Elon….

Before you start thinking this is a political post, it’s not. I had precisely the same complaint about Obama and W. They all seemed to convey dark, myopic visions of our world and we’re still suffering from decades of that handicapped form of leadership.

That rocket launch… that’s the kind of dreaming and aspiring and reaching and attaining we used to do as a nation. Let’s get back to it and do more of it, and you and I can start with our roles as tech leads.

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