Leading with vision
JFK makes lunar dreams come true

By Peter Urs Bender

THE YEAR WAS 1961. A newly elected U.S. President John F. Kennedy delivered an address to a joint session of Congress. In it he made an astounding announcement: Before the decade was over, the United States would put a man on the moon and return him safely.

It was a bold announcement; there were many, even some in the space program, who doubted that a lunar landing was possible.

Up to that time, the U.S. space program had been repeatedly upstaged by the remarkable achievements of America's chief rival, the Soviet Union. Buoyed by Sputnik and Yuri Gagarin, the USSR was the first nation of space.

However, by tapping national pride and the considerable resources of the Federal Treasure, the U.S. set about to catch up to and surpass the Russians in space.

A series of missions with names like Mercury and Gemini paved the way for the Apollo missions. Each space shot brought U.S. astronauts closer and closer to the lunar surface.

Then on July 19, 1969, the Apollo 11 lunar module touched down on the face of the moon. Commander Neil Armstrong climbed out of the capsule and planted his feet into the grey dust of the lunar surface and uttered those history words.

While Kennedy had long since been assassinated, the moment was a triumph of his vision and determination.

You don't have to be the leader of the free world to have vision however. You just have to know what you want.

Begin with the goal in mind, then ask yourself:

   *What do I want?
   *Where am I headed?
   *What would I like to create or achieve?

Be clear on the results you want to see. And make it a shared process.

This was Kennedy's genius. He involved virtually everyone in the country in his vision of a man on the moon. He got everyone asking, "What do we want?"

Again, Kennedy considered his options with an open mind, and convinced his fellow citizens - under what seemed like impossible odds -- to look beyond the limits of what seemed possible.

Take the time to learn, change your perspective, and associate with the right people. Kennedy did.

Do you think he could have realized his vision if he surrounded himself with logic-choppers and naysayers? Unlikely.

What blocks vision?

   *Pressure and too much to do.
   *Failure to believe in ourselves.
   *Lack of awareness and forgetfulness.
   *Failure to choose.

Kennedy faced all of these challenges and more -- yet he persisted. He led with passion and determination, and Americans followed him. People may think you are crazy, but all achievers -- those who push the envelope in sports, government, entertainment, exploration, or scientific investigations -- had vision, and pursued it with passion. That's what makes them leaders.

Peter Urs Bender is one of Canada’s most dynamic and entertaining business speakers. He lives and works out of Toronto. He is the author of four best-selling business books: Leadership from Within, Secrets of Power Presentations, Secrets of Power Marketing, Secrets of Face-to-Face Communication, and Gutfeeling.
To read excerpts from his books visit www.PeterUrsBender.com.