Castles and Foundation Stones

“If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.” Henry David Thoreau

Karlstejn Castle outside Prague: home of the Holy Roman Empire.

Karlstejn Castle outside Prague: home of the Holy Roman Empire.

Debbie Weil came to NASA recently to interview me for a book she’s writing about Social Media and the over 50 crowd — and yes, I totally fit into her demographic. She asked how we’d been able to make such headway at NASA with a number of groundbreaking projects.

My answer: by doing all the hard work to put solid foundations in place to support them.

UK Appleby Castle Knight. Copyright 2002 Beth Beck

UK Appleby Castle Knight. Copyright 2002 Beth Beck

Sometimes the best tool for breaking new ground is a pickax. Sometimes it involves diplomacy. Sometimes it requires creative negotiations. Most often it requires stubborn determination and an extremely thick skin. Body armor comes in handy too — for all the slings and arrows of opposition.

“To be, or not to be, that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
and by opposing end them.” — Shakespeare’s Hamlet

Making dreams come true takes a good deal of sweat, blood and tears. Ask any entrepreneur how many hours he or she works, or how many ideas crashed and burned along the way.

Sometimes putting the legal, budget, and procurement processes in place to create a project seems to take longer than necessary. Yes, it usually does. That’s what Red Tape is all about. But the fact that we get anything through the federal bureaucracy at all can be nothing short of a miracle. So rejoice when we make it through to the other side. Cobbling together political will to make change happen can be exhausting as well, but it’s absolutely, positively essential for success of any new project.

Foundation building is grueling, hard work — whether it means digging deep into the rock, or building up stone by stone, block by block. Better the house built on rock than one built on shifting sand.

“But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.  The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” Matthew 23-27

So whether you’re building solid foundations of character or projects, my hat’s off to you. I’ll be right there beside you, slugging it out to make this world a better place.

Here’s to castles in the air, and the foundations that keep them there!



Filed under culture, federal government, Gov 2.0, LAUNCH, leadership, NASA, social media

8 responses to “Castles and Foundation Stones

  1. Sarah

    Thank you for this inspiring post on change management. I am sharing this with colleagues as we are putting foundations in place now that we’ve designed our castles. Whether small castles or large castles, you still need the dreamers and the attentive brick layers.


    • beth beck

      My pleasure! Sometimes the dreamers ARE the bricklayers. When we dream big, we may be the only ones willing to make it happen. Once it becomes a success, everyone wants to help. 🙂

  2. Victor Moraes

    You are very inspired. Actually things should be beyond the ready made and proven to be milestones of goals. You quoted Henry David Thoreau and he says one thing very right. You can dream of wonderful things, like a castle, and go throughout life, enabling the justification (carefully preparing the seam between dream and reality, either by actions or thoughts), the performance of miraculous.

    And that involves relationships with others who unfortunately are not always what we expect, especially if we expect people who are able to see the beauties of life, the advantage of good deeds to build a world that still own, better, less worrisome, with a greater number of opportunities to open a sincere smile, a laugh or give frightening. Usually it’s all a matter of point of view, family background and intellectual capacity to understand reality. Proof of this is that even in an office with people with the same level of academic training, some laugh (and it never means loss of productivity or quality, on the contrary) and others vociferously. There are also those who mourn, for they are in doubt laugh or rape. It is the day to day. It can be seen easily people who are not happy, clearly indicates that they tend to do the right things, in terms of professional, ethical and moral. And happiness is not just a smile, which can be faked, but the smile is the expression of a whole set of words and thoughts that arise spontaneously.

    Calm, patience and a lot of goodwill. Make an effort to loosen your fears of being wrong when they are certain to form a “clever” and understandable, by exhausting the possible questions, presenting the truth.

    And there’s a truth that is above all others: love. Everybody wants love, can not live without (many people commit suicide by lack), and do crazy things for love. Not just love between a man and a woman, or love between parents and children, or love between friends. It is more. All people seek recognition, prestige, want some come and say you’re beautiful. This is lack of love. And for this, mistakenly commit atrocities, as in seeking power, money, domination, lying, cheating, making you hurt, cry. Seek a place in the sun, a recognition (which is just and natural) but not doing it by lifting itself, but by the fall of another. (Abominable lack of intelligence). A person could have countless others around him in praise and worship, but if these people do not smile, if your domain was not a peaceful area and supported by reason, then you will never be happy because your happiness depends on the smile of people around you.

    Then you smile and be happy.

  3. Victor Moraes

    Correction: I wrote wrong. “It can be seen easily people who are not happy, clearly indicates that they tend to do the “right” things, in terms of professional, ethical and moral “. Where it reads “right”, read “wrong”

  4. beth beck

    Thank you Victor for sharing your thoughts. I think you need a blog of your own. 🙂

  5. Great blog, Beth, and absolutely true! Good luck with your future ‘building projects’.

  6. Victor Moraes

    Sure, Beth. I promise to be more concise in my comments. I abuse. 🙂

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