Goal Achievement – Are You Neil Armstrong?

"goal achievement" "Gordon Bryan"

Neil Armstrong died in 2012, and I wrote an article at the time about the words he said when he first stepped on the moon. I recently watched a documentary about his life, and it brought another goal achievement lesson to mind…

The documentary really did drive home that he was a quiet studious man, with decidedly workaholic tendencies. Having fallen in love with flight at the age of 5 (he went on to get a pilot’s licence before a car licence) he pursued a career as an engineer and ended up as a test pilot for the military.

As the space programme took off, he applied to the astronaut programme, and the rest is history. It just happened to turn out that with all the twists, turns and setbacks of the programme, with all the people involved, it was Armstrong that took that first step on the moon.

It’s those twists and turns, and those people, that underpin the point of this article…

As a test pilot, Armstrong was used to pushing things to their limit, and then beyond, precisely to see where those limits were, and where improvements could be made. He nearly died on one flight as he went so high that the controls stopped working on his plane.

He nearly died again during a test of the lunar landing module, when control was lost again, and he stayed in it until the last minute to gather data before ejecting.

Other people did die in the space programme as the limits were continually pushed, basically racing too fast to try and keep to President Kennedy’s pledge to get to the moon by the end of the 1960s.

All the way through that Apollo 11 mission, no-one was entirely sure how things would pan out, and the landing itself was made with less than 30 seconds of fuel left.

All those near misses taught lessons. The deaths taught lessons. The successes taught lessons. Of course that first moon landing was followed by more, which became an easier goal to achieve precisely because it had already been done before.

So, I’ll ask again…are you Neil Armstrong?

No, you’re not. He was the first to step on the moon, and if that’s what you want to do in life, you can follow what he did. In fact if you want to be a test pilot you can follow what he did. If you want to be a college lecturer you can follow what he did.

Think about your goal. You can probably follow what someone else has already done.

Have all goals already been achieved? No.

All around the world, people today will be trying new things, pushing boundaries of what we know and what we can do. If your goal is at the edge of our knowledge, it may well be that you are the first, it’s you that will be trailblazer for others to follow.

More likely though, is that you are following whoever the trailblazers are in your field. It’s likely in fact that there are hundreds, maybe thousands who have already achieved your goal.

If they have done it, you can learn. Studying, learning and following people who have already done what you want to do is a powerful technique. It may sound too obvious – too obvious that you don’t bother, but you would be missing out.

You may *prefer* to go through the trial and error process yourself, but since you may encounter plenty of hurdles on your journey as it is, why add extra ones to it when you don’t need to!

Armstrong loved teaching, passing on his engineering knowledge to others. Look to his achievement that history knows him for, then look to your goal and ask yourself if are properly learning from others.

Ok, that’s it for today – let me know what you think!
‘Til Next Time,
Health & Happiness,
P.S. Don’t forget to sign up for blog updates via the box top right of any page, or find me on facebook under thegreatgordino
P.P.S. Here’s that other article: ‘Goal Achievement – One Small Step For A Man’

Do leave a comment!

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  • Inspiring stuff. I saw that documentary – I watch everything I can about the Apollo missions and I’m fascinated by those human beings who wanted to explore space so much that their passion overcame what must have been not inconsiderable apprehension.

    • Hi Harriet,
      despite the studious exterior, Armstrong definitely must have had that thrill seeking vibe that all those astronauts have/had! I also find it fascinating – loved watching the shuttle missions while they lasted…

  • I have always danced to the beat of my own drummer, Gordon…
    Of course, I learned to NOT talk to myself (since that would put me in a different category, when I walked the streets of New York), but picked my goals and strove towards them.
    Looking back, collecting money would have been a useful adjunct to those choices. But, the journey- and the difference made in this world- I wouldn’t change them. Just add to them…

    • Hi Roy,
      Nothing wrong with dancing to your own beat – and in fact this a good counter point. Sometimes it’s best *not* to follow others, but in either case you won’t find out unless you investigate!

  • I have followed what others in my field have done and now I am pushing the limits as a reading specialist that helps kids with reading online. I am able to close the gap a full year with just 8-12 hours of instruction. This is something that has never been recorded before, but now it is possible. Kids can become better readers with the right type of instruction.

    • Sounds good Joanne,
      There is nothign better than knowing you are contributing to people’s lives by helping them. A year’s gap in 8-12 hours is impressive! Good for you,

  • Hey Gordino 😉

    that is a terrific post. I love the basic idea, and there are some equally thought-provoking replies. For me, I like the idea of picking on someone who excels and emulating what they’ve done. That said,I like Roy A’s response up above. However, I am definitely not gonna be a PhD student anytime soon, – so following others’ greatness is good enough for me.

    All the best for your continued success Gordon 😉


    • Thanks Paul,
      It can seem too simple to follow the steps of others, but it can be really powerful in saving time and effort to work out the next step from wherever someone is. Sort of ties in with your ‘You Are Not Alone’ blog!