July 20, 2019 (at 10:56 pm US EST) marks the 50th anniversary of the first footsteps of man on the moon. In Perth it was 10:56 am on July 21 when Neil Armstrong stepped on to the surface of the moon.

How is it that 50 years ago, people with just a bunch of brains, slide rules and computers filling whole floors with less computational power than a wristband fit-bit were able to hurl themselves into the void and softly land on a small alien world?

And if they could do it then, why is it so hard for people to get things done now?

1961 and Back

It was May 1961 when John F. Kennedy made his famous speech challenging the US to land a man on the moon within the decade. It was an astonishing target. Remember, this goal was set just a little over 15 years after the end of World War II. What were you doing 15 years ago?

The truly astonishing thing, however, is that the Soviets already had spacecraft headed to the moon years before. The Americans also had craft headed to the moon before JFK’s famous speech. JFK didn’t pull the goal like a rabbit out of a magical hat. Agencies had already been working on getting man on the moon. He just made it a national (and indeed, international) mandate.

Reaction to JFK’s speech was not immediately supportive. Over 58% of Americans were opposed to the moon program. In September of 1962, he was still selling the idea with speeches before 40,000 saying “We choose to go to the moon because …”

It took time to turn opinion.

The time in which they ACHIEVED the goals, however, was truly outstanding. Only 24 years after World War II, we were landing men on the moon and bringing them back safely again.

What Do You Do To Achieve?

I consult with all kinds businesses, business leaders, professionals and leaders in multiple industries and situations. I coach their leadership, teams, process improvement, strategy and their communication.

Typically, many will think at first that one ‘perfect’ message will either ‘do’ or ‘undo’ the job for them. If they just get it right, they think, everyone will follow along – like the greats, you know, JFK and Martin Luther King Jr. If they get it wrong this once, it’s all over.

It’s the same with their strategy, or their organisational culture, or even their product. They often seem to think it will all just work perfectly without apparent effort or even a mistake. Or if they are going to improve something in themselves that has been that way all their lives, then surely it won’t take any investment or effort. If not, then it seems it’s not even worth trying in their minds.

Remember: JFK and Martin Luther King Jr. were both shot dead. They obviously didn’t convince 100% of the people to be on their side. They weren’t magically successful with their endeavours.

You would have thought then that it would be all over.

What they helped set in motion, however, was still achieved through the dedication, the attempts, the iterations, the failures and the successes of many thousands and hundreds of thousands committed to their goals.

What’s Frustrating

What’s really frustrating to me in business, social endeavours, community, government and more is this absolute roadblock to achievement: People want their attempts to be perfect, thinking that will happen by fiat. They will speak, saying “Let there be what I want”, like God from above, and it will be done and it will all be good.

Anything worth achieving takes multiple shots to get it “right” and even then doesn’t necessarily stay the course. Look at the US space program – there were accidents, blowouts, turnarounds, failures, deaths and explosions – long after they first landed on the moon.

Too many people simply don’t start. I have met too many people through the Chamber of Commerce of which I am CEO, who think that their business should magically grow with tiny investments of money and time. I have met and worked with leaders who had thought that people around them should instantly understand everything and be able to create great results while the leader basks in their own inactive genius.

If you want to achieve anything worthwhile, however, you need to devote considerable resources – of time, effort, money, talent, material goods, people, ideas and more – if you are to achieve it. And you should stop wishing or endlessly “planning” for it to happen and instead get to work.

Too many people are like the kid who stared up at the stars dreaming of becoming an astronaut, who never even asked how to get started.

It’s time to get started. Don’t wait. Start now. Devote the resources. Make the public commitment. Take action.

Start working to make it to the moon and back again!

© 2019 Peter J. McLean www.chamberofcommerceandcommunity.com

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