What Signals Are You Sending When Outperforming Expectations?


TOP ROW L TO R: The golden record being mounted onto Voyager in a clean room. Titan IIIE launch vehicle carrying Voyager launched on September 5, 1977, from Launch Complex 41 at the Cape Canaveral. Voyager in space. BOTTOM ROW L: The Golden Record. BOTTOM ROW MIDDLE TOP: One of the images on the record of how humans eat and drink (the guy on the right is pouring water into his mouth from a coffee pot. Really? I use a hose.) BOTTOM ROW MIDDLE BOTTOM: An image of Jupiter sent back from Voyager 1. BOTTOM ROW R: The ultimate Box Set. The golden Record is being produced as three vinyl records of the sounds and a book of the images as well as the Voyager story. You can only get this from a KickStarter project HERE.

The other day while driving home, I heard a story about the Voyager spacecraft.  Launched in 1977, it’s still providing data and images, nearly 40 years later, and twelve billion six hundred eighty-three million three hundred eighty-eight thousand eight hundred ninety-five miles away (and counting. Click HERE for NASA’s Voyager odometer.) Its flyby mission was to encounter Jupiter and Saturn by 1980 – but she’s still going strong – talk about exceeding expectations – wow!

As a business owner and solution provider, I’m always looking to exceed your expectations.  I think about the decisions we make, the goals we set, and our overall performance.  With a commitment and focus on solving your PIA (Pain in the @%$) Jobs!™ it keeps us on our collective “toes”, making sure we not only deliver, but put in the extra effort it takes to “delight” you, from catching something unexpected, following up on a delivery or just saying “thank you” for the business.  Many of our clients have recognized our excellence, and reward and trust us with more work – the best measure of all!

Exceeding expectations takes focus, hard work and leadership.  It includes how I behave and act, along with each of my leadership team and staff.  It includes vision, emotional commitment, teamwork and taking personal responsibility when something goes awry, (and having the gumption to lead to a solution).  Trial and error and mistakes are part of our culture here, as there is seldom a cookie cutter answer to those pesky PIA Jobs of yours.  Our “mistakes” become merely learning moments, that guide us to better solutions.

When looking for your leaders, according to a study by The Work Foundation that explored the traits of leaders and exceeding expectations, some core behaviors emerged:

  1. Thinking systemically and acting carefully for the long term
  2. Bringing meaning to life and a shared sense of purpose
  3. Applying the spirit, not the letter of the law
  4. Growing people through performance
  5. Being self-aware and authentic to leadership first, their own needs second
  6. Understanding that talk is work, to build trust and relationships
  7. Giving time and space to others
  8. Putting ‘we’ before ‘me’ – team spirit

So, as you gaze out into these beautiful fall star-filled evenings, think about your teams, their leadership, the path you are on and those who exceed your expectations – and then see if you can spot image Voyager doing the same.  For my trivia buffs and engineering folks out there, some “fun facts” about the Voyager program.  Enjoy!

  • Voyager 1 is a space probe launched by NASA on September 5, 1977. Part of the Voyager program to study the outer Solar System.  It was launched 16 days after its twin, Voyager 2. Having operated for almost 40 years, the spacecraft still communicates with the Deep Space Network to receive routine commands and return data.
  • The probe’s primary mission objectives included flybys of Jupiter, Saturn, and Saturn’s large moon, Titan. While the spacecraft’s course could have been altered to include a Pluto encounter by forgoing the Titan flyby, exploration of the moon, which was known to have a substantial atmosphere, took priority.  It studied the weather, magnetic fields, and rings of the two planets and was the first probe to provide detailed images of their moons.
  • After completing its primary mission, Voyager 1 began an extended mission to explore the regions and boundaries of the outer heliosphere. On August 25, 2012, Voyager 1 crossed the heliopause to become the first spacecraft to enter interstellar space and study the interstellar medium.
    Voyager 1’s extended mission is expected to continue until around 2025, when its radioisotope thermoelectric generators will no longer supply enough electric power to operate any of its scientific instruments.
  • Voyager 1 was constructed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.  It has 16 hydrazine thrusters, three-axis stabilization gyroscopes, and referencing instruments to keep the probe’s radio antenna pointed toward Earth. Collectively, these instruments are part of the Attitude and Articulation Control Subsystem (AACS), along with redundant units of most instruments and 8 backup thrusters. The spacecraft also included 11 scientific instruments to study celestial objects such as planets as it travels through space.
  • The communication system includes a 3.7-meter (12 ft) diameter parabolic dish high-gain antenna to send and receive radio waves via the three Deep Space Network stations on the Earth.  The craft normally transmits data to Earth over Deep Space Network Channel 18, using a frequency of either 2.3 GHz or 8.4 GHz, while signals from Earth to Voyager are broadcast at 2.1 GHz.
  • When Voyager 1 is unable to communicate directly with the Earth, its digital tape recorder (DTR) can record about 64 kilobytes of data for transmission at another time.  Signals from Voyager 1 take over 18 hours to reach Earth.
  • Unlike the other onboard instruments, the operation of the cameras for visible light is not autonomous, but rather it is controlled by an imaging parameter table contained in one of the on-board digital computers, the Flight Data Subsystem (FDS). The computer command subsystem (CCS) controls the cameras and contains fixed computer programs such as command decoding, fault detection and correction routines, antenna pointing routines, and spacecraft sequencing routines.
  • Each Voyager space probe carries a gold-plated audio-visual disc in the event that the spacecraft is ever found by intelligent life forms from other planetary systems. The disc carries photos of the Earth and its lifeforms, a range of scientific information, spoken greetings from people such as the Secretary-General of the United Nations and the President of the United States and a medley, “Sounds of Earth,” that includes the sounds of whales, a baby crying, waves breaking on a shore, and a collection of music, including works by Mozart, Blind Willie Johnson, Chuck Berry, and Valya Balkanska. Other Eastern and Western classics are included, as well as various performances of indigenous music from around the world.  (I would have added some Todd Rundgren and Carpenters also! ) The record also contains greetings in 55 different languages.
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