“October Sky” was the movie I chose to watch for our movie assignment this week. We were to look for the four tiny habits of persistence. Those four habits are 1) Definite Major Purpose (DMP), 2) Positive Mental Attitude (PMA), 3) Plan of Action (POA), and 4) Mastermind Alliance (MMA).
Initially an indifferent student, Homer Hickam was inspired by seeing Sputnik in the sky over Coalwood, West Virginia. From then on, his DMP was to build rockets. Even though the path to success was riddled with reasons to stop and conform, Homer stayed the course and remained largely positive the whole way.
Their plan of action developed slowly with detours along the way. As Homer realized the resources he needed, he formed necessary alliances with Quentin (the smart kid who’d been ostracized at school), men with expertise from the mines, and via a teacher who believed in them.
Granted, it was a movie, so it showed a clear progression to achieving a goal with representative challenges faced by the four boys who gave a town hope. Too often, the only way to succeed is portrayed as sports, and for many communities, the elusive “football scholarship” is the only option for their children to achieve a different outcome from what may otherwise be a bleak future.
Academic scholarships or other professional options are not seen as viable. I was not aware of those options, and even the options that I was aware of seemed too far-fetched to be feasible. I did my first year of college on loans. Then I dropped out. When I returned, I was enlisted in the Air Force, and used tuition assistance to complete my degree while working full time. Twelve years and seven schools later, I earned my undergraduate degree. I persist until I succeed.
At the end of the movie, they gave a brief summary of what the key players did with their lives. They make Homer out to be the rocket scientist, but if you check out his website, he’s so much more (but isn’t that the case with many of us?).
The movie portrayed an interesting conflict between father and son, which seems like something most people would recognize. The exchange toward the end regarding Homer’s hero was telling. I always hope parents realize they are their children’s heroes.