Godspeed, Neil Armstrong


Apollo 11 moon landing (video)

I still remember huddling around a tiny 10-in. Sony color television with my family and my aunt’s family.  The year was 1969, color television was only recently introduced in the pre-industrialized Taiwan.  The Moon Landing was the perfect event for my aunt to show off her new color television.   Even though I was only six, I sensed the importance of what was happening on television.

That’s One Small Step for Man, One Giant Leap for Mankind.

The room erupted with joy after Neil Armstrong uttered this simple but profound statement as he steps on the moon.  At that moment, Neil Armstrong became my hero, the world’s hero.

Neil Armstrong.

History is a great teacher.  Neil Armstrong’s recent passing has lead me to reflect on lessons learned about achieving greatness.

Greatness takes Vision.  President Kennedy articulated why we were going to the Moon, when we were to do it, how we were to going measure success.  He communicated the vision with clarity and conviction, and the vision he painted was the key in pointing NASA and the rest of the nation towards a single purpose.

Greatness takes Courage.  NASA astronauts knew that they were sitting on a highly complex piece of machinery loaded with enough explosives that will propel them to the moon, a place no one has ever gone before.  They knew the dangers, and some have indeed given their lives.   But they powered through fear; they got the Right Stuff.  In our own life journeys, we will come across opportunities to choose between a path of safety and mediocrity and a path of risk and greatness.  We will need the courage to power through fear to reach greatness.

President Kennedy’s Moon Speech (video)

Greatness takes Commitment.  Countless NASA engineers and scientists worked long hours to meet the President’s challenge.  Even though there were numerous setbacks along the way, there was no doubt they had to move forward, and there was no turning back.  In our own lives, especially when we are working on something significant, we will have setbacks, and nay-sayers will tell us to quit.  Commitment is staying the course when the sea gets rough.  Commitment is focusing our eyes on the vision.  Commitment means “don’t quit”.

We choose to go to the Moon …, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.

Greatness is a Choice.   President Kennedy said, “We choose to go to the Moon …, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”  Indeed, in life there are many highways that lead to mediocrity, and few narrow roads that lead to greatness.  Things that are worth doing are never easy, but we get to choose the way.   We don’t have to wait for challenges to confront us.  We can decide now that we will follow the vision that we believe in.  We can decide now to be courageous when confronting fear.  We can decide now to never quit.  We can decide now to be great.

(The above article is solely the expressed opinion of the author and does not necessarily reflect the position of his current and past employers)