A Win that Started with a Vision
On July 20th, 1969, 240,000 miles from earth, a message was sent, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” It was Neil Armstrong relaying the completion of a mission to land on the moon. It was a vision and a challenge that was cast on May 25th, 1961 by then U.S. President John F. Kennedy. “I believe this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to earth.” JFK’s vision that was presented to a joint session of congress was a reminder that now is the best time to begin execution of anything that we deem too difficult to attain. In that one sentence we can pull out vital nuggets to fight the urge to put off anything and begin to draw a trajectory of where we would like to be. Let’s review some key segments of this vision. These are not necessarily in order.
Do you Really Believe?
Anything achievable must first be believable. Before presenting his vision, JFK had to believe that it was possible to reach a milestone that had never been attempted before. Let me assure you that believing in something is risky. Risk is inherent to believing. Even the best laid plans carry some level of risk. I think of how risky marriage vows are because they are made without any prior knowledge that those making the commitment can or will fulfil those promises. “……for better or worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness, and in health, till death do us part.” It takes believing (and at times blind excitement) to recite such promises. Both parties believe that the love they have for each other has the necessary capacity to handle the load of promises they are making to each other before the marriage journey begins.
In JFK’s case, there was no prior knowledge that any man has or could ever land on the moon. And while history does play a part in informing the future, sometimes the future must first be created for history to exist. Believing is always fought by “what if.” What if it never happens? What if no one else believes it? What if I run out resources? What if something bad happens? For example, on January 27th, 1967 as the mission to the moon was in full effect, a fire broke out on a launch test pad killing three astronauts.
Believing activates the imagination to create a picture worth discovering it’s actualization through action. As we live in a world where data overload is almost imminent, it is getting harder to utilize the imagination which is responsible for creativity and pictorial representations of our thoughts and ideas. What do you want to see in your life up ahead? What level of belief do you carry every day? What are you telling yourself about what you want to see? If you could only believe, it would be possible to achieve.
Are You All In?
In the Navy boot camp, I had to pass a swim test called, “3rd Class Swimmers Test.” This test checks the recruit’s ability to stay afloat and survive without a floatation device. It involves a deep water jump from a 10 foot board, a 50 meter swim using any stroke, a 5-minute float, and a coverall inflation test. A full on commitment was key to completing the test which was a requirement to graduating boot camp. Commitment washed away fear and brought in focus, which is one of the greatest mental assets to achieving a goal.
Commitment is not just an obligation or duty. It is a passionate, full court press to a vision, mission, or cause through daily intention and action. Are you committed or merely involved? How do you make the shift? Let me use a simple scenario. Two men are assigned the task of kicking in a door. One man kicks the door once every six hours while the other once every hour. Who has the better chance of making a breakthrough sooner? Without a second thought we would say the one who did more kicking within a shorter time frame.
Weightlifters use the art of committed repetitions to develop muscle. Your commitment to what you believe in will keep you from aborting the mission too early, especially after a setback. While believing is risky, commitment is costly. In addition to the loss of life, the cost of the mission to the moon incurred an expense of $24 billion which would equate to around $100 billion today. What level of commitment are you bringing to the table for what you believe can be done?
Why was this feat so important that JFK was willing to commit what seemed an absurd amount of resources to accomplishing it? Understanding the environment during that time is key. When President Kennedy made his Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG), the Cold War tensions had momentarily dissipated but not completely disappeared. Truth be told, it wasn’t an easy goal but JFK was repeatedly heard saying that the moon mission was being done not because of its level of ease but due to the nature of its difficulty. At this time the Soviets had the upper hand in the space industry and JFK saw this as a potential ground for the United States to score a big win over their Eastern Europe counterparts.
Hence the goal. A goal must always be connected to a win or a scoreboard otherwise it simply becomes a useless expenditure of time, talent, and treasure with no end in sight. What win is attached to the goal that you are setting? Do you keep a scoreboard that tracks your progress toward the goal you have set? How will you know you have reached your goal? Goal setting will often be disruptive to your current environment. It will mean making necessary adjustments if you are serious about hitting the goal. Once JFK set this as a goal, it changed NASA from that day. Getting a man on the moon was not only a race against the Soviets, it became NASA’s top priority.
How important is goal setting? Zig Ziglar said, “A goal properly set is halfway reached.” By not setting goals for your life you increase the probability of living at the mercy of someone else’s plans for you and misery will be your end result. What should we tie our goals to? One word captures it. Purpose. When a goal is tied to a purpose, reaching it becomes rewarding. Learn your purpose and then structure goals that will align to it. Goals are the means by which you utilize your potential to fulfill your purpose.
Have You Set the Clock?
Multi-millionaire businessman Robert Herjavec, known for his role on the hit investor reality TV show Shark Tank is quoted as saying, “A goal without a timeline is just a dream.” President Kennedy’s timeline for the man on the moon goal was, “before this decade is out.” He cast the vision in 1961 when the decade had already begun. In essence there were about nine years to accomplish it. It was accomplished in 1969.
In sports such as Soccer, Hockey, Volleyball, American Football, and Basketball, the clock is perhaps as important as any other aspect of the game. Even Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest has a clock; whoever eats the most hotdogs in ten minutes wins! The clock is what makes things interesting like in the recently concluded FIFA World Cup. You could hardly keep your eyes off the clock wondering if your team had enough time to still come from behind and win.
Time management, whether in sports or life is paramount to reaching a goal or winning a game. Do you have a time management system that allows you to achieve your goals or make daily progress towards them?
Ask yourself what you would like to see in your life by the end of the year, or one year from today. Create a goal list with one to three goals that align with what you believe can happen. Put a timestamp on the goal(s). Commit to a daily plan and a scoreboard that will track your progress and keep you on course to hit the target you have set. Please share a goal with me in the comments section. I would love to cheer you on.
Keep on Keeping on!