Catastrophic Failure or Groundbreaking Success? You Decide

by Adam Kreitman

I’ve got a new favorite phrase… “Rapid Unscheduled Disassembly”.

What does it mean and why do I like it so much?

Well, here’s a story about an entrepreneur, exploding rockets and success/failure that explains it all and may very well turn “Rapid Unscheduled Disassembly” into one of your favorite phrases too…

There are those who see failure as something to be feared, criticized and/or ridiculed.

Then there are those like highly successful serial entrepreneur Elon Musk.

One of Musk’s companies, SpaceX, experienced either a catastrophic failure or groundbreaking success recently. Just depends on who you ask.

SpaceX is working on making reusable unmanned rockets. Being able to launch the same rocket multiple times would drastically reduce costs and give SpaceX a huge competitive advantage in the space business.

Now pulling this off ain’t no easy feat. It requires launching an unmanned rocket into orbit, have it complete its main mission (deploy a satellite, deliver cargo to the International Space Station, etc.) and then land back on Earth… in one piece.

No one (not even NASA) has done this.

But SpaceX is trying.

On their first attempt, the SpaceX rocket successfully launched and delivered its cargo to the International Space Station.

Then came time to land the rocket on a 170ft by 300ft platform in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

The good news… the rocket hit the platform.

The not so good news… it exploded in a spectacular fireball upon impact.

Now if you read the media reports about this, they pretty much all described the mission as a failure.

Not Musk.

He Tweeted a picture of the explosion and called it a “Full RUD (rapid unscheduled disassembly) event”. Adding it was an “exciting day!”.

See, to Musk, since no one had even attempted to do something like this before, just hitting the platform was a big success and reason to celebrate.

Now as it turns out the reason for the explosion was the rocket fins guiding the decent ran out of hydraulic fluid and the rocket’s engines weren’t able to compensate. This caused the rocket to hit the deck at a 45 degree angle and combust.

Learning from this, SpaceX is going to try to do it again soon and, according to Musk, for this next attempt they’ll have 50% more hydraulic fluid on board.

Tweeted Musk about their next attempt – “At least it should explode for a different reason.”

What an incredible quote and attitude!

Listen, you’re gonna encounter lots of setbacks in your marketing and in your business (and in all aspects of your life, for that matter). So the question becomes…

Are you gonna listen to the critics (whether in the media, your own office/home/network or, worst of all, your head) who dub it a failure and a waste and tell you to throw in the towel?

Or are you going to take away something that highly successful people take away from setbacks like this – FEEDBACK.

Then – and this is the key – learn from that feedback, make the necessary adjustments, and turn any rapid unscheduled disassemblies you may face into future SUCCESSES?

The choice is yours.

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