Real Time and NASA

A while back I had a conversation with someone that I’ve known for a while and we were discussing their previous career aspirations. They spoke at length about the work that they had done in engineering with NASA.  During the course of the conversation they mentioned how in this context, engineers and other relevant personnel knew the difference between “regular” time and real time. Regular time involved the somewhat present and the future. It wasn’t a critical matter and there was time to evaluation and make changes based on results and tests. Real time was totally different and focused on the here and now. Everything had to be squared away and had to run smoothly because it was mission-critical. A mistake at this point would have disastrous results and there wasn’t a chance to change or adjust because everything was happening in real time. It reminded me of life. We aren’t offered a dress rehearsal and there are no do-overs. Everything happens in real time. While we make mistakes, most of us try to make as few as possible because there can be lifelong repercussions from brief moments of stupidity. People die with regrets and so many people would make different choices if they only knew what the future consisted of. One of my new (lifelong) goals is to make more decisions in real time. Like a lot of people I know, I’m notorious for thinking and re-thinking even the smallest decision because I want to successfully separate the pros and the cons before I come to a conclusion. I’m not advocating for being really impulsive but I am saying that one thing I’ve learned (through life and also my job) is that your gut instinct is usually right. Sometimes you just know things and while there’s no way to articulate why or how, you just know. It’s in those situations I think we benefit and grow from going with our gut and not always succumbing to the urge to second guess, become anxious, or worry about something that was already decided. It’s then that we can make the decision to be ok with it and let the chips fall where they may because after all, life is lived on real time.

What do YOU think?

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