Take a seat and relax somewhere comfortable. Now ask yourself the following questions but do not move on to the next question until you have answered the previous.
What was the time you were leading or working on a project that made you feel the most full of life and what were the conditions that created that?
What was the peak moment?
Are you moving back towards those conditions? Alternatively, are you moving away from those conditions?
If so, what changes are required in your life to get back those conditions?
The facilitator at a workshop with the Women’s Executive Network posed this question to a group of young females whom were paired with one of Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women in a mentor-mentee relationship for a year. The idea was to reflect on a previous activity and feed information forward into future goals and growth, rather than providing feedback.
When I first considered these questions, I knew exactly when I felt that way. I remember getting an e-mail in March 2009 working on the draft of my master’s thesis. The e-mail stated that I was to be a participant in the ISU Space Studies Program at NASA Ames in the summer of 2009. I was beyond excited. After a summer of courses, workshops, lecture series, research projects, and of course sleepless nights at NASA, it turns out giddy excitement was the exact appropriate sentiment.
Not only were we participating in the Space Studies Program, but we were heading to a NASA facility. I worked on the ACCESS Mars project and remember working very late one night on various technical aspects of the proposed Mars missions but I needed to dedicate some time to write the introduction. I struggled for a long time because I did not have a vision – what could I write in a few small paragraphs that would create excitement for a Mars mission like the buzz Kennedy created for the Apollo missions? I worked for hours on the introduction and finally submit it for technical editing to a mentor with years of space experience. I expected only technical comments in return but the remarks surprised me. He described that this piece of writing was exactly the way to inspire people to undertake an exploration mission. It had brought him to tears and a project had not made him feel that way since the Apollo missions. That was my peak moment. Feeling like if I believed in a vision and surrounded myself with dynamic and outgoing peers with varying perspectives, we could change the face of space and foster the international relationships that will make future exploration successful.
After all, what provides more perspective and a truly unordinary experience than walking into an old abandoned McDonalds filled with film reels and footage from the moon, undergoing restoration via the Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project? Or jumping the world’s highest skydive with an Astronaut? Or even the uncanny timing of watching one of the last remaining Shuttle Launches at the closing ceremonies for the entire program.
The experience was extraordinary mostly because of the dynamic relationships that were developed and the constant source of inspiration and challenges from peers. These relationships are sounding boards to share experiences, ambitions, and a way forward as we navigate to our next peak moments.
Now it is your turn and it is simple – take a step back and ask yourself how to find new inspiration and what you need to do in order to live a life full of peak moments.