For many years I provided leadership training at the Goddard Space Flight Center. During that time, I had the opportunity to deliver two keynotes at a retreat for the Academy of Program Project and Engineering Leadership, or APPEL, NASA’s senior-most project managers. The managers at APPEL have been in their positions for decades, overseeing projects that span many presidential administrations, working with budgets that swing wildly, and managing a workforce that sometimes exceeds one hundred thousand for a single project! What I remember most about this group is their attention to balance. Balance is a priority in their engineering, sustainability, and leadership.

Balance in engineering means precise weight and load in specific proportions for spacecraft, from satellites to rockets with human payloads. Balance in sustainability means budget oversight that creates stability as the public sentiment, congressional leadership, and budget allocations swing back and forth. Balance in leadership means finding an equilibrium between urgent priorities and priorities that do not require a response to a pressing or critical situation. In a rapidly changing world, all of these require one-pointed attention to maintain. It’s like three-dimensional chess; the skills required to succeed necessitate constant development.

Think about your week ahead. Are you focusing on where your balance is needed?

“Toleration is the greatest gift of the mind; it requires the same effort of the brain that it takes to balance oneself on a bicycle.”

– Helen Keller

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