By WILLIAM HODGES
Does every journey begin with the first step? I think it does, but the first step in most journeys is not a physical action, but a mental action. When Neil Armstrong set foot upon the moon and uttered the now famous words, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” that physical step was the culmination of thousands of mental steps that had truly started the journey. Whether our goal is to lose 20 pounds or walk on the moon, there are some steps that will get us there with the least amount of wasted effort—if we follow them.
Set an objective: Neil Armstrong stood on the moon because John Kennedy set a national objective—to put a man on the moon within 10 years. Until we set an objective to give us direction, there is no hope we will ever begin the journey.
Write down the goal: The next step is to write down our goal. Committing it to paper is a good way to clarify it in our minds. We can then review it on a regular basis to see how we are progressing. Kennedy not only wrote it down, but he broadcast it to the world over radio and television. Once it was broadcast to the world, our national prestige was at risk, and others began to take up his dream. Thousands of people in all fields worked tirelessly to make the dream a reality.
Believe and visualize success: This belief in the dream was important to its ultimate success. Henry Ford once said, “If you believe you can or believe you can’t, you are probably right.” Kennedy’s belief was so great that he made the implausible seem reasonable. If we are to be successful, we have to do the same thing. Whatever our goal, we must believe in it for others to also believe and help us.
Believing something is possible is only part of the mental task. The other part is to be able to visualize the end result. I think Kennedy, as he declared America’s commitment to space, could see in his mind the astronaut planting the flag of the United States of America on the moon. It took that kind of vision to convince the American people of the soundness of the goal, and to get Congress to commit the billions of dollars necessary to achieve it.
An old Vaudeville routine had two cavemen standing on a stage. One caveman turned to the other and noting the size of a dinosaur, asked the question, “How does one eat a dinosaur?” The answer to the question is very simple, “One bite at a time.” That routine probably wouldn’t get too many laughs today, but the logic is sound. How does one tackle any major problem? The answer is, “One piece at a time.” Our space program has shifted away from manned flight and some of it has even been privatized, but it still has short- and long-term goals with target dates for accomplishing them.
Most of the objectives we have in life can be broken down, as they should be, into short- and long-term goals with completion dates assigned to each of them. It is only by reviewing our progress against our objectives that we can know if we are still headed in the right direction.
There will be obstacles to overcome. I am sure that there were many instances where we could have quit the man-on-the-moon program. But each obstacle was treated as a new challenge—not as a place to stop, but rather as a stepping stone to the next plateau. Whatever your dream, do not allow obstacles to shake your faith in your ultimate success. Stick with it, and the moon can be yours.
William Hodges is a nationally recognized speaker, trainer and syndicated columnist. He also hosts an interview-format television program, Spotlight on Government, on the Tampa Bay Community Network, that airs Mondays at 8 p.m. (Bright House channel 639, Verizon channel 30) and Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m. (BH channel 638, Verizon channel 36). The shows can also be viewed at hodgesvideos.com. Phone: 813-641-0816. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: billhodges.com.