Leading with vision

JFK makes lunar dreams come true

THE YEAR WAS 1961. A newly elected U.S. Presi-
dent 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 achieve-
ments 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 con-
siderable resources of the Federal Treasure, the U.S.
set about to catch up to and surpass the Russians in
     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 mod-
ule touched down on the face of the moon.
Commander Neil Armstrong climbed out of the cap-
  sule 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 deter-
     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 virtual-
ly everyone in the country in his vision of a man on
the moon. He got everyone asking, "What do we
     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.
  • Fear.
  • Lack of awareness and forgetfulness.
  • Failure to choose.
  • Imbalance.
     Kennedy faced all of these challenges and more
-- yet he persisted. He led with passion and determi-
nation, and Americans followed him. People may
think you are crazy, but all achievers -- those who
push the envelope in sports, government, entertain-
ment, exploration, or scientific investigations -- had
vision, and pursued it with passion. That's what
makes them leaders.

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