“In the long run men hit only what they aim at.” Henry David Thoreau
In 1961 President John F. Kennedy set America one of its toughest challenges ever. In front of the U.S. Congress he told them that before the decade was over America would land a man on the moon and return him safely to Earth. It would be the most dangerous and greatest adventure that mankind had ever embarked on and it captured the imagination of every American.
Eight years later on July 21st, 1969 at 2.56am astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first man to step on to the lunar surface uttering the famous words “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
In the interim years it was reported that Kennedy was visiting NASA one time and he stopped to talk to a cleaner asking him what his job was. The cleaner replied “My job is to put a man on the moon, Sir.”
Whether this is an urban legend or not, it is nevertheless inspiring to think that a cleaner had so completely understood and embraced the vision of landing a man on the moon that he responded in the way that he did. Without this deep-seated conviction throughout the NASA organisation it was unlikely that this “impossible” goal would have been achieved so quickly.
There are lessons here for every organisation. The key one is that without a clear vision or goal you’ll usually fall short of what you hope to achieve. This not only applies to the leaders of any business but to EVERY person within it. What is important is that everyone has a CLEAR and CONSISTENT understanding of the strategy of the company; the plan to implement the strategy and their own individual responsibilities in putting it on the ground.
This might sound simple but it rarely is. The reason is that it is difficult to keep everyone focused on the core purpose and key objectives when there is pressing work to be done every day. It’s easy to become distracted when deadlines are short and the pressure is on. This is especially true if you haven’t allowed your team to participate in crafting the company’s vision, core values and key objectives. Why would they genuinely “buy-in” if you’ve chosen to exclude them?
If you want your team engaged share company information liberally and get them involved in working out what the future will look like (the vision); the way everyone should behave (the core values) and what happens next (the key objectives). This shows that you appreciate their input and value their opinions. Whatever plans get subsequently formulated will resonate more strongly if you include them in this way. Genuine participation like this draws on the collective intelligence of the organisation and leads to clearer goals being established which significantly enhances the prospects of success.
While none of us are planning to put a man on the moon we should all aim high in our aspirations. Set a BIG clear vision and move aggressively towards it. Don’t hold back. Time is short. Your cleaner (and others) are waiting to join you on a great adventure…
Image By Jim Plaxco of The Behance Network
Article By The Bull