On July 1st 1976, the new National Air and Space Museum building opened its doors to visitors in downtown D.C. This was not your ordinary ribbon cutting ceremony. President Ford was among the dignitaries present who watched a red, white, and blue ribbon being cut by a signal radioed back to Earth over nearly 200 million miles away from a Viking spacecraft that was approaching the planet Mars. Within two years, the museum welcomed over twenty million visitors. To this day, the National Air and Space Museum greets about 10 million visitors each year, making it the most visited Museum in the world!
What is it about the Museum that attracts so many visitors each year? I believe that what's inside the Museum represents the power of vision, creativity, persistence, and desire; the traits that make any endeavor successful, be it for an individual, company, or even a nation.
Allow me to share some personal observations and stories about the people and artifacts represented in the museum that brings out the power of those traits mentioned above. In May, 1961 President John F. Kennedy stood before Congress and stated, "I believe this nation should commit itself, before this decade is out, to landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth." When Kennedy spoke those words, the United States had accumulated a mere total of 15 minutes experience in space with Alan Sheppard's suborbital flight. Kennedy went on to explain that, "We choose to go to the moon…because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our abilities 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…" Beating Kennedy's deadline by 5 and ½ months, two men landed on the moon on July 20, 1969 at 3:17 P.M. Houston time.
Your goals may not be as grand, but they are every bit as significant and compelling. Are you prepared to do whatever it takes to achieve your goal(s)? Can you easily articulate what your goals, dreams, and desires are and what needs to get done today, tomorrow, next month and next year to accomplish them? Are you prepared to persevere through good times and bad to see your goals through to a successful conclusion?
In all of the books I've read about success as well as the biographies of successful people, I find no magic formulas. While the path to success is varied, the will to succeed and the belief that success is possible are not. Imagine what it was like to be Charles Lindbergh in May of 1927. Other attempts to cross the Atlantic Ocean solo had failed, yet he believed he could accomplish that feat. There was no precedent for him to follow. In fact, technology was so "low tech" at the time, that Lindbergh told Frank Borman of Apollo 8 the day before Borman's launch that before attempting his historic trip across the Atlantic Ocean, he and a friend went to the library, found a globe, and measured with a piece of string the distance between New York and Paris, and from that measurement, he calculated how much fuel he would need for his flight. With only two compasses and an airspeed indicator, Lindbergh completed his journey 33 and ½ hours after taking off. Remarkably, he was only several miles of course when he passed over land for the first time.
On October 14, 1947, "Chuck" Yeager became the first human to fly faster than the speed of sound or Mach 1. His flight dispelled the myth that there was a "sound barrier." We didn't know much about how to fly faster than the speed of sound in 1947, but we did know that a 50mm caliber machine bullet flew faster than the speed of sound and Yeager's aircraft was designed using that shape.
On December 14-23, 1986, Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager (no relation to "Chuck") flew around the earth, non-stop, without refueling. Nine days in cramped quarters. The stories go on and on, but they all represent what courage, determination, desire, belief and vision can achieve.
Dare to dream. Be inspired. You're never too old and it's never too late to have a vision of what you want to accomplish for yourself or others.
Good luck to you on your journey to success.