Moon Shot Goals
Realistic goals are useful, but a Moon-Shot-Goal is transformative.
John Glenn becoming the first American to orbit the Earth on February 20, 1962. He spent 4 hours, 55 minutes, 23 seconds in space and orbited the earth three times.
Scott Carpenter followed Glenn on May 24, 1962. He spent 4 hours, 56 minutes, 5 seconds in space. (NASA)
6 Orbits later:
The U.S. had orbited the earth a grand total of six times when President John F. Kennedy announced the outlandish Moon-Shot-Goal. It was September 12, 1962.
Kennedy said, “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, …”
“Larry Page of Google is the high priest of 10x-ing everything, stretching further. He’ll say, I’d rather have the objective be to go to Mars, and if we fall short, we’ll get to the moon.” (John Doerr, Measure What Matters)
Set a goal that’s so big that working harder to reach it is out of the question.
Attainable goals make you work hard. 10x goals shift your thinking and transform your business.
You can’t achieve Moon-Shot-Goals by simply working harder.
- Buckle your knees AND capture your heart. Goals without heart become brutal sledge hammers.
- Build on past success, but don’t repeat past success.
- Are achieved by true believers, not skeptics. Hire people who feel the fire of doing something big.
- Include sacrifice and commitment.
- Require creative iteration. Try something. Learn. Try something new. Adapt. Try again.
Give people a dream that touches their lives and they’ll reach higher than they could have imagined.
What has setting Moon-Shot-Goals done for you?
What suggestions do you have for setting Moon-Shot-Goals?
Perfect post! Thanks. I needed this this morning.
Moon shot goals force you to reinvent and transform your process and approach.
When leaders set a moon shot goal they must be able to make a compelling case as to why the transformation is needed. People need to believe it’s needed and necessary.
Thanks Paul. You bring up an essential point. Too often leaders set big goals that are simply self-serving. One big question is, “How do others see themselves in the goal?” Another question is, “How does achieving this goal help others get where THEY want to go?”
Great post. I like the ‘moon-shot’ term. Similar to the Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAG) that Jim Collins writes about. Shooting for the moon allows us to stretch ourselves and our team. We are more resilient and creative than we think. And even if we don’t make it to the moon each time, getting close is pretty exciting too.
Thanks Daryl. The idea of creativity is important. If a goal doesn’t require creativity/innovation to be reached it’s simply an operational goal. The truly big goals demand and inspire creativity.
Great timing, as usual.
Only caveat I’d add is that these sort of goals need to have some basis of attanability, I.e. you can see it may be possible but has many challenges.
A goal that you can’t see a possible pathway to just becomes a de motivator with followers thinking the leader is just a dreamer.
Thanks Rob. Yes. It has to be possible. Perhaps another thing is that if you fall short, it’s still a good thing. For example, a small company might have the goal of doubling revenue in 3 years. You might not reach the goal, but getting 1/2 way there is a good thing.
As leaders, and believers of moon-shot goals it is inherent on us to “tell the story”. We must share our belief and passion in ways that ignite and inspire our teams.
As our people feel their own undeniable raging inferno deep in their guts they are enlightened by their own creativity and drive.
They are contagious.
They are unstoppable.
Great piece this morning.
Thanks Steve. Yes! The story is what touches the heart. I love it when I see the team pulling because they feel the fire, rather than being pushed.
The most transformative leader I ever worked with used to say, “We’re looking for ideas that scare us a little!” Goals that aren’t at least a little scary aren’t likely to be audacious enough to have true impact.
Love it. Thanks Jim. Perhaps the question is, “what are you trying to achieve that scares you at least a little?”
I like the comment about stretch to Mars and you might get to the moon. Set goals way out there you might hit them, but have in your mind something in between that is just as good. The stretch is good exercise meeting the goal in between is good.
Thanks Roger. I’m currently in a big goal rhythm. I plan to reach the goal but 75% will be great.
Dan: I wonder whether enough people do not understand how really to handle the goals as the article notes. Experience tells me most do not and it took me many years to get the concept. Set the goal way out, but as noted settle for something in between just like how some of us set the goal as under commit and over deliver. Strangely enough I’ve found that when I do set the goals and the commitments that way I actually do over deliver and sometimes meet the stretch goal. I believe its setting the bar with some margin and some relief (lessens the stress) as one moves along.
Brilliant! If we can’t fail then we always set attainable goals. Many people set a low goal so they can say they achieved it. In the process they sell themselves short.
Thanks for sharing your experience.
Most recently, for me, it’s the mental shift that a big goal makes that is really impacting me. Cheers
Harry Truman said, “You can always amend a big plan, but you can never expand a little one.”
Love it! Thanks Sam.
Sam–why can’t you start with a small plan–small step and then expand into something bigger.
Paul, I think you answered your question.
You have already a big goal in your vision, however you understand that you have to start small but your vision is not restricted to the present, I.e. your mindset is towards expansion.
Well, from a budgetary standpoint, it’s often hard to say, “here’s our small plan,” and then come back and ask for more money when you discover your plan actually needs to be bigger and you need more money.
I would like to think of moon-shoot-goals as awakenings,
It has to be related to something you love to do and something you cannot tangibly see but believe, I.e. if you are true to this awakening/ vision then you have to be ready to want it so much that you are going to do everything legitimately possible and when you do that for sure God will make you “shoot-the moon”.
Thanks Nusrate. You can’t undervalue the pull of something you love. But, it’s also necessary to degenerate a big intangible love into tangible behaviors. I think this is where goals come into play. A goal is meaningless until it’s expressed in visible behaviors.
It’s like moving from the invisible world into the visible world.
This concept is exactly the direction Kansas has taken in their educational efforts in the past 3 years. Our Commissioner of Education has challenged all of us to be bold and think outside the box when redesigning our schools to improve instruction and learning for students. We have the initial Mercury 7 Schools, along with the Gemini Schools identified as early adopters in this accreditation transformation. In the end all schools will be redesign schools; it just takes some longer as they build the foundation for this to happen. We have tried to safer approach and while schools got better, it didn’t transform teaching and learning. This approach will help us turn our educational system in Kansas into one that has a better chance of preparing students for post-secondary success.
Thanks Vicki. It’s funny, but I’m on a plane right now to Kansas City. 🙂
Thanks for your illustration. Love it. It seems very useful to know that some will be early adopters. I call it “go with the true believers” in time the late adopters will jump on board.
Excellent as always!
The sky is the limit, the destination unknown!
Reach for the stars, the real journey begins!
Sometimes it’s nice just to orbit and think. “What a view”!
Thanks Tim. I caught that bit of celebration in your last line. If we aren’t careful, goal-setting becomes an exercise wheel that wears us out.
Big audacious goals sound great! If you’re Kennedy and the moon shot doesn’t go off so well, you can learn, rethink and have another try to hit your goal. If you’re the guy driving the rocket, you’re just a “flaming data point”. As someone who has spent his career driving the rocket, I’m wary of the reality of big audacious goals.
Thanks Mitch. Some cultures punish failure. Other cultures learn and adapt. If you’re going to set big audacious goals you have figure out how to relate to failure. Truth is, people in your situation have learned to set low goals and then, when possible exceed them.
If you ask me, it’s an organizational culture thing. If you always reach your goals, you’re reaching too low.
Having said that, I wondered if you might not jump in today. Glad you did.
Great post! totally agree, I needed to read something like this today!
Worst advice ever and based on nothing but opinion. Setting unrealistic goals is a self-handicapping strategy designed to preserve self-worth in the event of failure. Instead of blaming yourself for lack of ability or effort, you shift blame to the stretch goal and feel all warm and fuzzy for trying.
Thanks Dr. Bobby. I’m glad you joined the conversation and shared your perspective.
I appreciated this. I compete with my Quarter Horse. My coach told me, if your goals don’t scare you a little bit, they aren’t big enough. That doesn’t mean we don’t set smaller, more reachable and measurable goals as well, but we also set the moonshot goals. And you know what, more often than I think they will, they’ve worked out. This scared Canadian, who competes 4 times a year, went to Vegas with the big guns. And in classes of over 60 people, came out top 10 or top 15. Sometimes you have to dream and go for it. Imagine the engagement that can create…