Monday, July 20, 2009

What Challenges Are You Willing to Accept?

Today’s moon landing anniversary seems as good a day as any to share a little of what makes me tick.

Forty years ago, man landed on the moon. Although far too young to notice (not even a year old at the time), notions surrounding the moon have captivated me. For thousands of years prior, people would look up toward it as it hung in the sky, a symbol of our collective dreams. Early on there was fear, but soon it was replaced by wonder, imagination and greater understanding. Now, for many who look at the moon it symbolizes accomplishment. A feat our forefathers couldn’t imagine but many a grandfather got to witness. This huge achievement, not just for the United State in the midst of a space race, but for mankind with the creation of new technologies, possibility thinking, ingenuity and the celebration of success.

The moon program has shaped me indirectly in other ways. My father headed a group that worked on guidance systems. He was passed over for the Apollo assignment, something I did not know until many years later. Obviously, he felt disappointment he diligently headed a less glamorous group. In time, that group grew in influence, budget, and prestige. Eventually the Apollo program ended and members from that team joined his organization, illustrating that sometimes the less glamorous route can be more fulfilling and rewarding in the long run, despite initial disappointments. You never know.

In 1962 President Kennedy, who helped bring out the best in people by having a clear goal, uttered one of my favorite leadership quotes.

"We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard. Because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills. Because that challenge is one that we're willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone and one we intend to win."

Every generation of humankind had been staring up toward the sky wondering about the moon. Then not too long ago, one of us says, let's do it, let's go there within ten years -- and we did it. A fascinating feat that illustrates just about anything is possible with vision, passion, action and a deadline.

I enjoy inspiring people who in turn inspire themselves; to help others find their strengths and see what they have to offer our joint endeavors. I help others find their vision or purpose and help them clear the path to their achievements by tearing down obstacles that are in the way. I do this partly for selfish reasons. I like how it recharges me and gives me energy, forcing me to take the focus off myself, and put it on others. It gives me the opportunity to combat the damaging effects of poor leaders, influencers, and others who abuse their power either through ignorance or through intent.

I also like measuring things. Not to see shortfalls but to see what we're capable of doing. I love to see the charts and graphs of goals and measurements of success. To see the results of common things in uncommon ways.

All this leads me to ask, on this day forty years after one of our greatest achievements. What current symbol surrounds us collectively, that can organize and measure the best of our energies and skills? If that is too broad, think of yourself and ask, what do you need to work on that is not easy, but will serve to organize and measure the best of your energies and skills? What challenges are you willing to accept, unwilling to postpone and intend to win and how can I help you?

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