When I was born on July 22, 1959, there had not yet been an American in outer space. That didn’t happen until almost two years later on May 5, 1961 with Alan Shepard. This occurred only after my first brother was born and my mother was already pregnant with my sister. However, two days before I turned ten years old on July 20, 1969, I watched in amazement on our black and white television as Neal Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon and heard Armstrong’s famous words for the first time, “One small step for man. One giant leap for mankind.”
How can we go so far in such a short time?
We came so far in the space age because the United States was willing to focus on getting to the moon. A few days after Shepard’s historic event, President John F. Kennedy delivered a speech on May 25, 1961 before a joint session of Congress called, “Special Message to the Congress on Urgent National Needs,” In this speech, JFK stated that the United States should set as a goal the “landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth” by the end of the decade. With focused attention to get to the moon within a decade was shortened by almost two years.
Focused Attention Creates Exponential Growth
This trip down memory lane helped me realize that it was focused attention to detail that helped the United States space program not only grow superior to the Soviet space program but do something that the other country never did and that was land several men on the moon. Those first two years, nothing seemed to occur on the surface. The technicians at NASA were working on details. With today’s modern computers, it would have been much easier, but these technicians didn’t have access to them. They had to use their imaginations and skills in science and mathematics to make the moon landing fact. Rockets had to be designed to carry human beings. Heat shields had to be designed that could take the heat of re-entry, Food that could be eaten in zero gravity had to be created. Calculations had to be made to propel the space crafts out of earth’s orbit. Like the foundation of a building, numerous other aspects of the program had to be handled before they could get a human being in a rocket off the ground.
Imperfection Does Not Mean We Should Quit
The Apollo program changed forever on Jan. 27, 1967, when a flash fire swept through the Apollo 1 command module during a launch rehearsal test. The three men inside perished despite the best efforts of the ground crew. Eighteen months would pass and there would be extensive redesigns, before NASA sent more men into space, but the problems that they faced did not stop them from reaching their goals.
How to Use Focused Attention?
- Make a decision
- Create specific goals
- Attention to Detail
- Setbacks don’t have to be permanent and should be anticipated.
- Celebrate the accomplishment
I am imagining what focus can do for me during the next year. I wonder what things can be live one year from now when I add another candle to my next birthday cake. How about you? What could you do with undivided attention?