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The Power of a Clear Goal

As we move forward in the New Year, I’m hoping that your to-do list as well as mine has a close relationship to our goals!
The first time I recall hearing a public declaration of a ‘goal’ was in 1961 when I was too young to fully know the dimensions and importance of goal setting. It came from the recently inaugurated President John F. Kennedy as he spoke about America’s biggest ambitions for our quickly developing space program.

On May 25th of that year in a public speech he announced that the United States was shooting for the moon—literally. “I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to earth. No single space project will be more exciting, or more impressive to mankind, or more important….and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish.”

Those words set a definition for me of what goal setting was about! It clearly stated what the goal was, the deadline it should meet, and the difficulty ahead. Because the needed equipment didn’t exist yet he warned the American taxpayers (the investors) of the immense amount of money we’d have to contribute. Many of us in all age groups could relate to that soaring dream as something we could be proud of and the goal was met in July of 1969.

Many years ago I had a chat with one of the old timers working in the space program at Northrop. He said that when he first heard about that bold and intimidating goal he went to his office, closed the door and shed a tear because he didn’t know how it could be achieved. But he learned how to help put a person on the surface of the moon. The company he worked for designed and built the Lunar Module!

As I look back from these current chaotic times I don’t recall hearing any president or congressional leader laying out a national goal with such easily understood purpose and direction. They often announce programs instead of goals. I think that clearly stated goals are a necessary part of life for all of us to get to where we really want to go in business and our personal lives!

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