Your Next Small Step
David Freund, Chief Leadership Officer

Last week I wrote about the challenge that President John F. Kennedy gave during a speech at Rice University on September 12th, 1962. We as a nation embraced that challenge, and on July 20th, 1969, Neil Armstrong walked on the surface of the moon. In last week’s post, I referenced the iterative process that was used to achieve that amazing feat. I also ended my post with this question; Do we still have the “right stuff” to achieve the perceived impossible? This week I would like to address the process they used and my final question.

Between September 1962 and July 1969, America’s best and brightest accomplished the impossible. It was impossible because nobody had any idea how to accomplish it. The “know-how” didn’t exist. What did exist was the know-how to do the next thing, and the next thing would lead to the impossible. My mentor Paul Martinelli often refers to this five-step success model:

  1. Test
  2. Fail
  3. Learn
  4. Improve
  5. Re-enter

What Paul is sharing is Iterative Problem Solving. We have an idea or a dream that may appear impossible. That dream leads us to a first step, and we test it out. We fail, learn from our mistakes, make some improvements, and start over. By repeating this process over and over until one day, perhaps even before we know it, we achieve the impossible. It’s really that simple.

I know your next question is likely to be why don’t more people achieve the impossible? It’s because they quit. As soon as the going gets rough, they quit. People start criticizing them, or people point out a failure, and they give up on their dream. They give in to the assessments and opinions of others. Now let’s not be too quick to judge; we all do it to some degree. Let’s break the cycle of defeat and use Paul’s model: Test, Fail, Learn, Improve, and Re-enter. They are just small steps, but remember what Neil Armstrong said, “One small step for man. One giant leap for mankind.”

I think we still have the right stuff. It is buried under mountains of critical social media and a society that falls prey to mediocrity, self-defeat, and low expectations. It’s time to awaken the American can-do spirit. In terms of returning to the moon, NASA Is planning to visit the South Pole of the moon in 2024, but SpaceX, a private company owned by Elon Musk, might just beat them to it. We have so many opportunities all around us. Perhaps the greatest is to remove the mountain of garbage dumped on us daily. Let’s use an iterative process to stop the negativity, mediocrity, and low expectations. Expect and encourage excellence daily—in ourselves and others.  Lift others up and be kind. Dream big—and one of these days, you just might achieve the impossible. What small step are you willing to take? It might be a giant leap for mankind.

Please join Marisa and me on Episode 112 of The Next Page as we take a deeper look into how this process of achieving the “impossible” works.

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