"If you are not doing some things that are crazy... then you’re doing the wrong things"
"So what is your "Moon Shot" idea?" asked my friend Michael.
Michael, who normally resides in Washington, DC was in San Diego on business, so it gave us an opportunity to have dinner together.
Both Michael and I were only a week or so removed from both being at a conference in Boston, that centered around entrepreneurial endeavors. The theme of this year’s conference was "Moon Shot Thinking".
This theme was in reference to the famous speech given by John F. Kennedy in May of 1961 to a joint session of Congress. During his speech, President Kennedy told Congress (and the American people watching him on TV) that "the nation should commit itself to the goal of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to earth before the end of the decade".
This is often the classic example used when discussing a big long-term goal with a definite beginning and end otherwise known as BHAGs (Big Hairy Audacious Goals).
The conference in Boston, presented us speaker after speaker of people who are trying to do things to change the world in big ways.
Our speakers talked about things like curing cancer, developing artificially intelligent computers, training and finding jobs for thousands of the returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan, creating one of the world’s largest pieces of art on the San Francisco Bay Bridge, and pushing the limits of technology to tell incredible stories through film and sound.
Each of our presenters told us an inspiring story about their journey and how they didn’t let the simple fact that "it’s never been done before" deter them from their mission.
Each of our presenters tried, with all of their heart and soul, to compel the people in the room to not limit their world view and to think in terms bigger than life... to go beyond conventional wisdom to create something incredible versus something ordinary.
As I sat there listening to the cast of speakers being paraded before us one after another for 4 days... each with a stronger message than the speaker before them... I couldn’t help but be moved by their implication that we all have the power to move mountains if we only had the vision and foresight to do so.
Upon my return back to San Diego, I spent a great amount of time reflecting upon the directives and challenges set in motion by those moving speeches and talks trying to think of ways that I too could change the world in a wholesale way.
It was then that I discovered a great truth about myself and probably most everyone else I know...
I am simply not interested in pursuing ideas that could or might change the world...
...I am only interested in pursuing ideas that help a few people at a time.
For me personally... helping people isn’t a wholesale idea... it’s a retail idea.
I am trying hard to be the best father I can possibly be to my own children...
...volunteering my time playing scrabble each Sunday afternoon with one elderly lady who is unable, for the most part, to leave her own home.
...leading a small company where I can still get on the phone to help people with a problem that they are experiencing... and not because I want to grow my company to a size where I can sell it to the highest bidder and retire... but because I love what I do and the people I work with...
Michael on the other hand is trying to build a new business that, if successful, will change the way food is grown throughout the United States and possibly the world. His ideas are definitely "moon shot". He wants to change the world and enjoy the riches that it will bring him if he is successful.
The point I find most interesting is that most people aspire to be someone like Michael and not me...
I live in the boring world of the non-scaling "incrementally better" whereas people like Michael live in the exciting world of "giant scalable leaps".
I suppose the big difference is that my world tends to be somewhat predictable...
It’s about finding a small need and filling it... whether that need is serving a small niche market... seeing a person who is in need of a friendly visitor on Sunday afternoons... or a parent willing to spend an afternoon teaching their kids to ride a bike, throw a baseball or use the library.
The person who dreams in cosmic proportions of leaving an indelible mark on the world is a very special person... a person who has enough passion to move other people to action... to drive change within large-scale organizations... to develop a narrative about a vision that has yet to be considered... to risk it all on one great roll of the dice...
A moon shot thinker can also be an artist, creating something from nothing... adding paint to a white canvas or words to a blank page... then finding an audience to purchase what they’ve created...
Such a person is Sekou Andrews, one of the most sought after speakers in the field of medicine, technology and retail branding with speaking fees upwards of $40,000 per engagement. Sekou is not a doctor, an engineer or a marketing technician. He is a poet.
When Sekou started his journey to the moon, there was no market for his particular skill set. Perhaps one poet in a million could earn enough money writing and performing poetry to earn a comfortable living.
Yet today, he has performed his poetry for presidents, prime ministers, billionaires, and famous entertainers. Sekou has a great vision of what his craft could be and created something from nothing while inspiring people, young and old alike "to be awesome".
While a moon shot thinker might feed every hungry mouth... house everyone in India without a home... or create the new killer social app that connects tens of millions of people...
...others will simply choose to make a difference in someone else’s life... to freely give of themselves to someone who needs them... to care... to listen... to be there...
Whether we want to go to the moon or have a humble vision of how we can help... we all have the opportunity to make a difference...
Thank you for your support of OptiFuse as we try to help you to new heights.
Jim Kalb President
Email - email@example.com
Website - www.optifuse.com
Blog - www.optifuse.blogspot.com
Twitter - @OptiFuse