“Eagle, this is Houston. Go for landing. Stand by. Four. Three. Two. One. Fire! Eagle, throttle down. You’re lookin’ good. We got good data. Go for landing.”
“Houston, we’re go, sit tight, we’re go. Boy, are we comin’ in! Stand by for touchdown. Stand by. M–A–N–! . . . Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed. The Eagle has landed.”
On July 20, 1969, humans first set foot on the moon. It’s easy now to forget what these early Astronauts risked, three very vulnerable men escaping Earth atop the mightiest engine ever built, the huge Saturn rocket, that put the tiny Apollo space ship in orbit around the moon. There, two of these historic risk takers left the relative security of the mother ship for an even tinier lunar module from which they would take, “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
Think back to the technology of 1969 and compare it to today’s. It is staggering to think that the space program took off at all. It required as much faith and foresight as know-how. When President John F. Kennedy initiated the space program in May, 1961, he said, “We ask God’s blessing in the most hazardous, dangerous and greatest adventure on which man has ever embarked.” Few of us will ever be asked to equal the risks, the faith, and the courage it took to complete the first moon mission. But even though the risks were incalculable, the rewards were too.
To Risk or Not to Risk
Why would anyone want to take a risk? The dictionary defines risk as “exposure to the chance of injury or loss; danger, hazard, peril.” Definitely something to avoid. Yet risk taking is integral to both leadership and living. Every leader and every life that makes a difference develops the ability to evaluate ideas and the courage to seize the opportunities associated with them. The biggest risk of all is trying to avoid all risk.
A risk can be unexpected, suddenly coming at you at 80 mph so you’ve got to do something. Or it can be a challenge you’ve created or deliberately sought out. Both kinds can be equally frightening and exhilarating. Wanted or unwanted, risks involve change. You make change your servant when you create a powerful picture of the changes you want, of how you want the future to be. Then evaluate the risks involved.
1. Identify the risk. This may seem simple, but often it isn’t. Be keenly aware of hidden agendas and personal biases. Everyone looks at risk differently. Continue reading