One small step into what’s possible
Wednesday, Jul 23, 2014 03:15 pm
One July night a long time ago, two men taught me something important. After watching those grainy pictures of Neil Armstrong stepping onto the surface of the moon and into history, my father made me go outside. As a 10-year-old, I couldn’t possibly grasp the significance of what had just happened, but my father did.
“Look up at the moon,” he said. “There’s a man walking around up there.”
I think it was more my father’s reaction than the actual event that has stuck in my memory. My dad was often a man of few words and, particularly in my younger years, he didn’t usually philosophize so I paid attention while we stood outside looking up.
“There is a man on the moon because some people believed they could do the impossible. Sometimes you have to try to do what other people think can’t be done. Sometimes you have to tell yourself you can do the impossible.”
What he said was short and to the point. No big long speech. No questions and answers – just a powerful observation and an invitation. We stood silently looking at the moon for a little while and then he said, “It’s time you were in bed.”
Landing on the moon was an ambitious goal set by a president who understood the power of rallying a country around a single monumental achievement. As inspired as a generation might have been, somehow that idea of making the seemingly impossible possible didn’t ultimately filter down to our personal lives. When was the last time you set a big audacious goal for yourself?
Most of the time, we simply play small in our lives. We don’t set any goals or if we do, they certainly aren’t, “Gasp, how could I ever do that?” goals.
I think there are three reasons why we don’t. First: big, bold goals probably seem as out of reach as the moon. We are simply too busy with our mundane to-do list to even consider what might be possible in our lives, let alone how we would make it happen.
Secondly, we are so failure-aversive that we often feel it’s better to set the bar low and be successful than to aim too high and be disappointed.
And lastly, big goals require focus and commitment and most of the time we are just stretched too thin.
Norman Vincent Peale, a guy who knew a lot about the power of positive thinking, once said, “Aim for the moon. Even if you miss you will land among the stars.”
That’s pretty good advice. Setting your sights higher gives you a lot of room to play. Chances are you are capable of far more that you think you are. Imagine what opportunities might become available if you took one small step beyond what you thought was possible.
Most of my memories of Neil Armstrong’s giant step for mankind are clouded by 45 years of media images. The one clear recollection I have is standing in the moonlight with my dad looking up at a sky full of possibilities.
What might be possible for you?