“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 are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.” – JFK
Recently, I’ve been reflecting on these famous words of John F. Kennedy’s, made on September 12, 1962. And finally, the sweeping nature of the dream to put a man on the moon struck me.
Kennedy uttered these words while addressing a mammoth crowd of students in a university environment and he was emphatic that going to the moon was a choice and they (Americans) had made theirs as a nation, hence the words “We choose…” Given all the available options for scientific conquests of his time, Americans chose to go to the moon the most outlandish and perhaps the most precarious of human quests at the time. It was their choice.
Kennedy wanted his nation to live on the achievement side of life; he wanted them to be on the active side of history and to shape it. This choice became the rallying object for businessmen, educators, inventors, students, actors, musicians, sportsmen; you name it, for attempting the seemingly impossible in their various fields of endeavour.
This choice evolved into a much more universal call to achieve. It served to galvanize that can-do orientation amongst a people who believed that nothing was too great to attempt, after all, we, as John L. Mason put it; “attain only in proportion to what we attempt.” And by extension the students drank from that same spirit.
The dream of going to the moon became a firm goal when he added “in this decade”. This instructs us never to let our dreams drift in the clouds of ambiguity, but rather to commit to a time frame even when there is a risk of failure to meet the deadline. For that is how those on the achievement side of life’s divide decide. They do not dillydally.
At The Achievers Manual, we have also chosen the moon. Our quest is “to perpetuate a can-do culture and help build an achieving society.” In doing this, we have chosen to challenge our people to move from a culture of traders and rent seekers to one of builders; to downplay the cake and espouse the baking skills; to emphasize achievement over entitlement; to celebrate effort over ease; to champion labour over favour.
This will not be an easy task. Going to the moon has never been easy. Even Kennedy acknowledged, when he made his statement about the moon that such a quest would be hard. But that is what serves to bring out the best in all of us. It is what puts us on the achievement side of life.
I leave you with the words of David C. McClelland, the renowned Harvard professor, who once said “Wherever people start to think in achievement terms, things begin to happen.” That is why people go to the moon!