In the midst of significant social and political turbulence, the height of the Vietnam war, flower power, and Woodstock about to take place, Neil Armstrong stepped off the bottom rung of the ladder of the lunar module and uttered the now immortalize words, “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
After returning to Earth, the Apollo 11 crew went on a worldwide tour. Astronaut Michael Collins commented, “Wherever we went, people instead of saying, ‘Well you Americans did it.’ Everywhere they said, ‘We did it, we human kind, we the human race, we people did it.’”
One of the gifts that come from following the blogs of influential thought leaders is that over time we come to an understanding of the deeper narrative that a writer conveys. Seth Godin is such a blogger who consistently conveys certain threads, which bears importance to our broader thought leadership, one of which is that he calls for us to do work that “matters.”
In my own blog, one of the threads I endeavor to convey is the importance of trusting ourselves—our instincts and intuitions, and the subtle nudging of our soul that moves us toward more meaningful work and business pursuits.
On May 25, 1961, President Kennedy called for us to send an American to the moon by the end of the decade, and thousands answered the call. With NASA at the helm, a herculean effort was initiated to achieve the seemingly impossible, and on July 20, 1969 two men landed on the moon, walked on the surface, and returned safely to Earth.
Far more important, perhaps, than the learning that came from their fabled trip was those few words spoken solemnly and deliberately, “One giant leap for mankind.” With those words, beamed in real-time around the world, heard by more human beings than any prior broadcast in history, Neil Armstrong united the world as one community, achieving together.
Did the work matter? I think most would argue that it did, in spite of the incredible violence and disconnection that took place during that very time. It mattered most importantly because Neil Armstrong, and to no small measure, the entire NASA team, felt as though what they were doing was of such importance that it was far bigger than anyone individually, or even a country—the U.S.A.
When we do work that matters, the work is bigger than us, bigger even than a company, and it’s this being-a-part-of-something-bigger-than-ourselves that unites people and breeds incredible innovation.
Surely if we can accomplish these things, we can do so much more. We can discover and develop all the ways necessary to rejuvenate our natural environment, clean the air and water, end poverty, and bring peace to the world. But only, if we unite as one and do work that matters.