The Flight of Apollo 13: Overcoming Obstacles and the Lessons We Can Learn from Them

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Forty years ago today Apollo 13 made history after returning from space from what could have easily been this crew's final mission. If you haven't seen the movie Apollo 13 I encourage you to take some time to watch it this weekend with your family. This story is by far one of the most touching and inspiring sagas of how man overcomes what seems to be insurmountable obstacles and it is all achieved through the power of team work.
Sunday night Dateline NBC ran a story documenting the flight of Apollo 13. Matt Laure interviewed astronaut Jim Lovell, Commander of Apollo 13, and his family, as well as astronaut Fred Haise and Mission Control director Gene Kranz. To hear this amazing story in their own words of how they overcame each obstacle that crossed their path was more than inspiring, it was extraordinary.

This mission has been referred to by many as a "successful failure" meaning that while they didn't land on the moon, they were able to make it back home from what could have easily been a mission forever lost.

I have learned so much about my life from those who have gone before me. While I may never find myself in a life or death situation like these men, there are lessons to be learned from others who have traveled a more difficult path in their life's journey.

Below are a few lessons I took away from these brave men as I listened to the interview. I hope you will take some of these same lessons and apply them to your own life.

" I was faced with a problem and so if I did nothing but bounce off the wall for 10 minutes I would be right back to where the problem was." - Jim Lovell

How many times do we let that one oopsie moment knock us off track. We no longer focus on the destination but on our failure of this one event. Losing focus, beating yourself up for falling short or giving up will not get you to your ultimate destination. You can complain, whine and say it's not fair that you have to work so hard, but that will not get you anywhere. You have to be willing to face your problems head on and then go after it with all the resources available to you.

"Trust your team to find the answer"-Gene Kranz

I can't imagine traveling through this journey to healthy living alone. Having support and encouragement from those around us can get us through when times are tough or when we feel we just can't go on. Consider SparkPeople as your own mission control and you the astronaut commanding your own ship.

"The crew totally depends upon us to come up with the right answers and we depend upon them to provide the information to execute."-Gene Kranz

In other words, being honest with those whom we ask for help is essential to getting us to our destination. We must be willing to put our strengths and weaknesses out there for others to see so that the experts and other members can give guidance to help us through the process. If you tell others what you want to hear instead of what you need to hear, this can keep you from reaching your goal.

"We didn't think about what the final results would be if we weren't successful."-Jim Lovell

So many times I hear from members ready to give up the minute they don't see results. They can't see themselves succeeding which I believe can become a self-fulfilling prophecy--that is, unless they are willing to re-write the ending, they will see themselves as a failure.

You must picture this journey as a positive adventure. While the Apollo 13 crew never landed on the moon, they are the only crew to date who has ventured so far from the earth and the only crew to overcome so many obstacles during one flight. I guess that's why this mission will always be called a "successful failure."

"You only worry about those things you can do something about."-Gene Kranz

This by far was one of the most poignant statements of the interview. As I mentioned in my blog last week on patience, there is little in life we hold control over, however, learning to let go of those things we can't control allows us to take charge of those things that we can.

While losing weight pales in comparison to this historic event, the lessons we can take from these three men who fought to get back to Earth and the entire NASA crew who worked so diligently to bring them home is something we can emulate in our own lives. We may never have to go through such trials, but by listening to their story, we can change who we are when we are forced to face our own obstacles.

Do stories of others overcoming obstacles inspire you? Do you believe that team work is a big part of getting to your destination? What would do if you did not have someone to turn to in time of crisis? </br

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Pretty good to correlate our problems with food in light of Apollo 13. Never would have ever thought to look at it this way. Thanks, I will save that to share in the future. Report
I was almost 12 years old when this occurred and vividly remember watching it unfold on television. The movie is fabulous, one of my very favorites - it very accurately portrays all the details of 1970 (music, clothes, etc.) as well as the heart-stopping emotion the nation felt until splashdown finally revealed the astronauts were safe. Things are so fragmented today - very few events, good or bad, bring everyone together the way the early space shots did. Report
Awesome blog. Thank you for remembering our astronauts. Report
Thank you for a great blog Nancy. I just got around to reading it today and I am glad that I found it now and not on Saturday. I won't go into details, but suffice it to say that I NEEDED to hear this today. Thank you. Report
The support I find here is instrumental in my success this time around!! Report
I loved the movie with Tom Hanks.
"" I was faced with a problem and so if I did nothing but bounce off the wall for 10 minutes I would be right back to where the problem was." - Jim Lovell

I worked as a nurse, and this quote is SO much of what dealing with any emergency is about.

excellent Report
This was an exciting time for all of us who grew up during the late 60's to early 70's. One of the guys I went to HS with grew up to work for NASA, Scott Horowitz. I also worked for Rockwell International for about 5 yrs. The movie made from this incident is one of our families favorite and I still cry everytime I see it. What is funny, I hardly remember this event from when it happened but my husbands remembers every moment from watching on tv. We are only a year apart in age and this just goes to show what was important for boys v. girls. Thanks for writing about this. Report
That was a terrific and inspiring story, thank you so much for blogging about it!!! Report
Thanks for the reminder and YES I definitely think that WE is better than ME. No matter how wonderful you are you cannot take the place of multiple visions Report
This story still brings tears to my eyes, as did the movie, even though I remember how the story ended! I saw that show last Sunday and it was so neat. I'm glad that folks who might are not old enough to remember the events got to see those interviews. Thanks for the comparison b/w Houston's mission control and SparkPeople! Report
Being on an adventure alone isn't as much fun as being with a team - even an adventure like getting healthy! Report
I have worked on several great teams. The members were positive, supportive, problem solvers, and goal orientated. When brain storming, all ideas were welcomed because we all wanted to succeed. Teams are important to me getting to my destination. It is a real shame that so many people do not have the training to be a team member. They are missing out on a big chunk of life!!! We cannot possibly do it on our own. Report
Nice blog and a great way to see things Report
Thanks for the wonderful and inspiring blog, Nancy. it could have not come at a better time. Even with great adversity and challenges, one still can be successful. These are the lessons that will stay with me for a lifetime. Report
I liked the team analog. Without the team, there might be a little more struggle to attain my goal. Getting information from others to utilize is important. Report
Thanks so much, this is just what I needed. Report
Great blog!!! I need other people that is why I love Spark People. Report
Great blog! I loved the movie. Report
Thanks especially for posting the link to the program re: Apollo 13. Amazing people, amazing circumstances, amazing outcome. Great reminder, even for those of us who were alive at the time. Report
Great job it's an eyeopener!!!!! Report
GREAT blog, thank you! Report
WOW!....Talk about an epiphany. Report
40 years ago I was only 25. I remember that time. I remember sticking to my TV watching the drama unfold. I remember the anxiety we , all, as a country endured....and I remember the triumphent JOY we all felt when that shuttle landed in the ocean. The movie made by Ron Howard, captured it SO WELL, that it was like living it all over. The most awesome time in our Space Program. It really showed how working TOGETHER to accomplish a goal, what it meant to everyone.

THAT works for all of the Millions of Sparkers too. SO MANY are WINNING their own apparently IMPOSSIBLE goals. YES, we CAN learn alot from Apollo 13. So amazing you have no ROOM 13 in Hotels, apartments, or Hosptials, yet they ignored that number, and went for it, and it became a REAL TEACHING TOOL! WOW.... I KNOW that GOD was in on that one. He heard all our prayers! AMEN!!! Report
This is one of my all-time favorite stories. Most of the time we put astronauts in the same category as our other super heros, but Apollo 13 brought home to us all how human and vulnerable they all are. I especially liked Gene Kranz's quote "You only worry about things you can do something about." Report
What a fantastic blog! Many tanks o' thanks for it, Nancy! That last quote from Gene Kranz spoke - no, shouted - to me. I should have it tattooed on my left butt cheek (well, maybe not...but it's a keeper!). Report
Oh, this is my most favorite movie EVER and cannot tell you exactly how many times I have watched it. THANK YOU, my friend, for putting it into a totally different and meaningful perspective. You rock! Report
The company that made the battery that failed in the flight was made in our town. My mom came across a newspaper she had kept that was the landing of Apollo 13. She found it this week. I think when Spark people band together and help each other lose weight that we show we can achieve something that we didn't think possible before. Just like the Apollo mission. Report
Beautiful article, Nancy! My DH worked in the Apollo program up until 11 (the first to land on the moon), so this was especially meaningful to me. You are so clever to see the lessons in that program and how they apply to us. Thank you, I will remember your wise words whenever I feel a little discouraged! Report
I had the pleasure of meeting Jim Lovell last May. He is amazing. Wow. Report
Thanks for your article on the amazing Apollo 13 flight and the lessons that we can learn from it. Report
This absolutely hit the mark for me today - very thoughtful and inspiring. Thanks, Nancy. Report
What a coincidence. My family and I watched the movie yesterday as part of our movie and pizza night we have every Friday. I didn't even realize it was the anniversary when we chose the movie!

What a great analogy to think of when continuing on our spark journeys!

cj Report
I remember the launch. It's amazing just how far the world has come since this great day. We should all be proud of everything that we have seen in our generation. Report
Yes indeed I have used many of the inspiring stories here on Spark to help me get through difficult situations. Teamwork is one of my most essential "tools" that I have. My sister Thoms1 is my exercise buddy and my diet buddy. We are constantly bouncing things off of each other. Without Spark People we would not be where we are today! Each of us has lost over 135 lbs. ea. Thank you Nancy this blog was fabulous! Report
Loved the blog. Absolutely hit the mark!!! Report
it's a great interview, a great movie and Nancy this was a great blog comparing it with our own journeys and Sparkpeople and our Sparkfriends !! Report
And my new favorite quote from this rescue made by Gene Kranz and name of my blog-"Failure is not an option." Not losing weight for me is NOT an option. I will have to do whatever it takes. Report
This goes back to how important it is to be focused. It really is such a waste of time to get upset and wail and moan and worry about things that can't be changed. It is so important to keep on going to the next thing if there is a set back. Report
Yes. It was a very good movie, & there story is very inspirational. It shows that even if things don't go as planned you can still achieve some measure of sucess. It's always good to hear & be reminded of what people are capable of! Report
Thanks, I really needed this. Sometimes we do need to take a moment and reflect on the adversities that were overcome, and how it was done successfully. One moment at a time, one morsel at a time, one step at a time. Report
This is a great analogy between Apollo 13 and our journey through SP. It totally inspires me to see what obstacles others have overcome. It usually makes me realize how good I really do have it and how much I have to be thankful for. Everyone has a story and I think it helps us all to share our stories. Report
Yes, stories of overcoming obstacles does inspire me. I think that, for me, growing older I am more apt to try and learn some life lessons from others. I really enjoyed reading this and I have watched the movie several times. It is exceptional and those that were involved are heroes. Thank you for sharing this. I really need to remember and work on only worrying about the things you can change. Report
Yes, stories of others overcoming obstacles inspire me. Personally, teamwork has not been a part of getting to my destination. If I did not have someone to turn to in time of crisis, I'd "freak out" and probably take no action lol. Report
In other words, being honest with those whom we ask for help is essential to getting us to our destination. We must be willing to put our strengths and weaknesses out there for others to see so that the experts and other members can give guidance to help us through the process. If you tell others what you want to hear instead of what you need to hear, this can keep you from reaching your goal.

Great blog, but that statement really resonated with me. Opening up with those who you are trusting to help you get to your destination, for better or worse, is key in truly growing and changing. GREAT post, Nancy!!
I keep telling DH not to get excited about the things he has no control over such as the guy who cuts you off on the road or the person who can't use common sense. I haven't seen the movie but after reading your blog I will try to see it. Report
It's good to know that the skills we are working on now are the ones we would need IF we were ever in a situation like Apollo 13's crew. I like that the helpful, positive patterns remain constant--makes it easier to keep going on tough days, more fun on the easier ones.
Thanks, Nancy. Report
It's nice to be reminded of some things. Report
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