A few years ago, I watched the 1998 movie “October Sky” adapted from Homer Hickam’s book entitled “Rocket Boys.” The film is set in 1957 in Coalwood, West Virginia, a mining town as the name implies, and opens with the townspeople, including 17-year old Homer, gazing into the October night sky to witness the passing of the Russian satellite “Sputnik.” Upon seeing Sputnik cross the sky, Homer is inspired and discovers his definite major purpose in life.
The Formula for Success (below) is clearly evident in this wonderful movie.
Success = a Definite Major Purpose (DMP), plus a Positive Mental Attitude (PMA), plus a Plan of Action (POA), plus a Mastermind Alliance (MMA).
Definite Major Purpose (DMP): This is our true and authentic purpose for our life. It’s the reason we are here. Our passion and gift to humanity. Homer’s DMP was revealed to him the instant he saw Sputnik fleeing across the October sky that night in 1957. One evening at the dinner table as the conversation between his father and brother centered on football and athletic prowess, Homer interrupts and beautifully states his DMP saying, “I’m going to build rockets.” A simple and elegant one-sentence DMP! “I’m going to build rockets.” That was his earnest desire.
Positive Mental Attitude (PMA): A positive mental attitude is having a mind that is closed to all negative influences. Almost immediately upon announcing his desire to build rockets, Homer met resistance and negativity from his father, brother, his peers and some in the town. After all, everyone growing up in Coalwood was automatically destined to a life in the mines, unless a football scholarship was their ticket out. Homer was no football star! Despite all this, Homer kept his focus and attention on his purpose.
Plan of Action (POA): Simply having a purpose and maintaining a positive mental attitude is not enough to achieve success. A Plan of Action expressed in continuous activity is required. Homer and his core team (3 boyhood friends) demonstrated a definite plan of action that included studying rocket science, learning mathematics, discerning equations, establishing a rocket launch site 8 miles off of mining company property, experimenting with various materials, designs and fuel types, and numerous failed launches from which they learned and made necessary corrections. They stayed in action and were determined to persist until they succeeded!
Mastermind Alliance (MMA): No one succeeds without a Mastermind, and Homer was no exception. To me, one of the most poignant parts of the story was how his mastermind alliance came together. First, Homer enlisted the aid and support of three boyhood friends. In particular, he reached out to someone he normally wouldn’t have associated with – Quentin, the school math geek. Quentin’s vast knowledge of math and rocketry was invaluable to Homer and they became fast friends. Others in the alliance were their science teacher Miss Riley, a welder in the mining company machine shop, a former fighter pilot, and eventually even his father, the school principal, to include the support and encouragement of the entire town of Coalwood. One of the benefits accruing to the Mastermind, his 3 friends in particular, was that in achieving a win in the national science fair, they would receive college scholarship offers thus providing them the opportunity of a life away from the mines.
October Sky is a fantastic movie well worth watching again and again. The success formula is always available and at work for those who aspire to fulfill their authentic purpose!