LESSONS ON THE WAY TO THE MOON


2019 marked the 50th anniversary of the first manned moon landing.

The day that the late Neil Armstrong uttered those famous words “That’s one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind.” 

Forever immortalised as the first man on the moon and watched by an estimated 650 million viewers across the globe.

This truly was a monumental achievement of human endeavour, with over 100,000 people who worked and collaborated on the project at a cost to the American taxpayer of $190 billion in today’s value.

Like any such event, it begs the question, how on earth was such a monumental feat achieved & what can we learn from it and how may those lessons apply in our industry?

Let’s start at the beginning:

The goal to get to the moon was set 8 years earlier in May 1961 by the then President, JF Kennedy who announced to the American nation & to the world ‘We will send a manned mission to the moon and return them safely back before the end of this decade.’

LESSON: Set a goal with a completion date.

The urgency that surrounded the ‘space race’ was fuelled by the fierce competition between the two superpowers of the time, USA & the Soviet Union.

LESSON: Competition, whether it be in business, sport or in this instance, human endeavour, drives and spurs on achievement.

Who was the second person who stepped onto the moon? Of course, it was Buzz Aldrin & the third person of the mission but who did not step on the moon was Michael Collins who was the pilot of the lunar module. Another 10 people stepped onto the moon after Apollo 11 & yet most people unless they searched on ‘Google’ would not know their names. As history is now recorded, Neil received over 99% of the recognition for the first moon landing.

LESSON: ‘First’ is first. Second, as we know, regardless of the margin from being first, is always a distant second.

NASA relied on public support to persuade the U.S. Congress for continued funding of the billions of dollars that were required to run the space program. Following Apollo 11, there were 5 more moon landings in the following 2.5 years. The mood from the U.S. public was that the missions had become ‘routine.’ Huge costs, & the declining support ended the Apollo program.

LESSON. Everything has a life span. You must re-invent and keep your audience engaged.

The Apollo program received extensive criticism from media outlets, politicians and the general public. Non-believers, critics and naysayers were front and centre at every opportunity to discredit and derail NASA’s goal.

LESSON: Don’t let ‘haters’ get the better of you. No matter what you try to achieve, there will always be people who won’t want you to succeed. Keep pushing forward. And to this day, there are still people who believe that the moon landings did not happen.

And the final lesson.

Any worthwhile goal requires sacrifice, commitment, and an unquestionable determination to succeed. A steadfast resolve to tackle head-on every challenge. To find solutions to every obstacle and problem you encounter.

So if Man could reach the moon over 50 years ago, with LESS technology than what you are using to read this post in your hand… then what goals could you achieve?