Marvin Hamlisch died in August 2012 and the LIVE from Lincoln Center New Year’s Eve musical tribute to his life and legacy plays like a soundtrack for our lives. Some remarkable achievements in 2012 are shaping our future and may even solve some of humanity’s most pressing problems. Some tragic events turned our lives upside-down and compelled an great upswell of caring and compassion. All are either the direct result of effective working relationships or shine a light on the power of interpersonal connection. Here is an overview of some world-changing events in 2012 underscored by the music and lyrics of Marvin Hamlish:
The Way We Were. As the curtain closes on 2012 and opens to a new year just beginning the lyrics to “The Way We Were” remind us that memories can connect and hold us together when everything changes and hearts are broken. This is a lived reality for families who lost their homes and possessions because of Hurricane Sandy, for survivors of gun violence across the country and especially in Newton CT still reeling from the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary school, for the thousands of veterans and their loved ones who struggle with the effects of war on their relationships and lives.
One Singular Sensation. A 2,000 pound robot makes it to another planet without glitches. It lands safely and is, right now, conducting experiments, communicating data and revealing new, potentially life-changing scientific information. If the Mars Rover mission were an Olympic sport, the degree of difficulty would be “above a 10,” according to Adam Steltzner, an engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which manages the mission. So many things could have gone wrong. And NASA attributes the astonishing success of this mission to the team culture that values and trains staff in relationship development skills such as interpersonal communication, emotional intelligence training, and conflict resolution. “Non-technical issues that complicate communication and the open exchange of information make the technical challenges even more difficult,” writes NASA Engineer John Ruffa who reports a transformation within the NASA culture that has strengthened teams’ capacity to move through the obstacles to what seem to be impossible goals.
They’re Playing Our Song. At long last, gay and lesbian couples in Washington, Maine, and Maryland gained the right to marry in 2012, after a long struggle to be afforded the rights and privileges that heterosexuals enjoy simply by accident of their biology. In 2012 these three states joined Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, Washington, D.C. and New York in in contributing to a far-reaching and vital social change that is gradually moving toward equality for all citizens.
Nobody Does It Better (Theme song from the James Bond hit The Spy Who Loved Me). Visionary Bertrand Piccard – doctor, psychiatrist and aeronaut – and entrepeneur Andre Borschberg, engineer, fighter/airplane/helicopter pilot and graduate in management science combined their considerable resources, talents and passion to develop the science-fiction-worthy first solar-powered aircraft Solar Impulse which completed its first intercontinental flight on June 6, 2012. The innovations that made this aircraft possible are the result of a committed team of engineers, investors and supporters that care as deeply about sustainability and clean energy as they do aviation and exploration. Their mission statement also encourages “each and every one of us to become pioneers in our own lives, in our ways of thinking and behaving.”
Falling. A man travels to the edge of space, then falls to earth faster than the speed of sound packed tightly into a spacesuit and capsule that causes the man extreme bouts of anxiety and claustrophia. What gets Felix Baumgartner through the panic is a voice in his ear, an ongoing, reassuring conversation with Joe Kittinger, his trusted friend and mentor, an 84-year old Air Force colonel who set the skydiving altitude and speed records Baumgartner breaks with this jump. Kittinger guided him through a 40-item checklist that went over every move that Mr. Baumgartner would make when it came time to leave the capsule. Staying busy helped Baumgartner focus, and the relationship was a conduit that stretched from an office in New Mexico to 24 miles above the earth. This feat was made possible through the combination of groundbreaking technology, a tightly-connected team, and a daredevil leader. How does this feat influence our future? “He demonstrated that a man could survive in an extremely high altitude escape situation,” says Kittinger. “Future astronauts will wear the spacesuit that Felix test-jumped today.”
Kiss today good-bye. We are already pointing tomorrow. And may we build on what so many great people did for love by working together in the year to come.
Jude Treder-Wolff is a trainer/consultantand, creative arts therapist and writer/performer.