It was a short, almost throw-away phrase in my column from last week, yet it tugs at me today. While considering the opportunities this unprecedented crisis unexpectedly presents, this line spilled onto my laptop: In a sense, this could be our finest hour.
The phrase is used often, but whenever I read it or hear it, I think of a line in the movie, Apollo 13—one of my favorites.
You probably know the background of how these words popped up in the movie. One of NASA’s final trips to the moon (Apollo 13) faces crisis when a routine maneuver (“stirring the tanks”) results in an explosion which damages the Apollo ship and makes a moon landing impossible.
Suddenly, NASA—and Mission Control in Houston--face the likely possibility of losing three astronauts unless they find a way to re-work a disabled craft and bring it home safely.
As the wounded craft prepares for re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere, two NASA executives in the Mission Control operations center discussing the obvious perils prepare themselves for a negative outcome. One says to the other, “This could be the worst disaster NASA’s ever experienced.”
Gene Kranz, Chief Flight Director at Mission Control, overhears the remark. Apollo 13 is his responsibility and if anyone might panic, it would be Kranz. But instead of firing back with expletives or adding to the worry, he calmly replies, “With all due respect sir, I believe this is going to be our finest hour.”
Kranz was a prophet. NASA’s response to an unprecedented crisis inspired a nation.
What is our “finest hour” response?
In Apollo 13, there was no manual or protocol to fix the incredible challenge NASA faced. The heat shield on the spacecraft was damaged and suddenly Houston’s Control was forced to imagine creative solutions, often using items on the craft in new, unforeseen ways to create tools, working parts, and ultimately, a solution.
For the pregnancy help community, this means that while protocols and procedures are in place for a reason, we’ve got to be flexible and creative too.
For instance, a protocol which tells us, “Only clients who earned baby bucks are allowed to . . .” may need creative changes, especially if we have stockpiles of supplies which might be used to help our greater community.
Yet, responses will be different for each of our organizations. Some of us are forced by community guidelines to offer services without opening our offices. Others will stay open because our material and medical operations may be classified as necessities.
Therefore, creativity is important. Putting our collective heads together, even if we can’t meet in the same physical space—is vital.
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Love one another
Mission Control in Houston recreated its team during the Apollo 13 crisis. New members were brought on board, others were reassigned new duties to deal with ever-changing challenges. Every meeting was urgent, every comment had to be meaningful and productive. There was no time for lengthy debate—decisions had to be made quickly and all team members had to jump on board.
The crisis, in its own way, brought Mission Control together in ways they couldn’t plan. In the end, it was one of the most positive experiences in Mission Control’s history. In a sense, they gained a new love for each other.
So, it can be with the pregnancy help community. We can use this time to communicate more effectively, assisting each other wherever we are.
For some, it means more texts and phone calls to encourage each other. For others it is sharing prayer requests. Or, sharing ideas on how we are each responding to this crisis.
And when it comes to thinking creatively, it may mean that some organizations are in a financial situation so strong, they can help bridge the financial gaps for other organizations facing financial crises.
Again, “one size fits all” doesn’t work because we all face differing challenges. Instead, entrepreneurial thinking and brainstorming will be our best approaches.
The other side
It’s not overly optimistic to say that, at some point, this crisis will subside. Over time, our society will get back to work, find “normal” again (though normal may have some new wrinkles) and many of the challenges we face at this moment will be memories.
The question is, what will the pregnancy help community learn and implement today which makes us more flexible and more effective in the future? And, how will we embrace this crisis to create a more vibrant, more effective and more unified Community?
This is our time to discover answers to those questions.
Let’s continue searching for our best solutions, staying connected to each other and seizing every opportunity to build up our collective team, here and around the world. If we do, we’ll find our answers. And, we’ll soar through this moment stronger than ever.