The 1997 World Skydiving Championships had just finished and none other than Neil Armstrong came over to congratulate us. Yes, you read that right, THE Neil Armstrong! The American and global hero! It was the only time in my life I can remember being totally awestruck. He goes on to say something along the lines of “You guys are incredible. I can’t believe what you can do up there. It’s amazing, unbelievable. Congratulations on your victory, you made us all very proud.”
I’m thinking, “Neil Armstrong is impressed with us? He thinks we’re amazing?” I had to tell him, “Please sir, with all due respect. Are you kidding? You’re Neil Armstrong. Not only did you walk on the moon, you did it first! In 1969!! I was 7 years old and glued to the TV watching you. I can’t imagine any accomplishment any human being will ever do that can top that.” Despite the cool operator I like to think of myself as, I couldn’t even pretend to hide my hero worship. Didn’t even want to.
Neil Armstrong taught us all a lot about going after our dreams.
We don’t often “dream” about accomplishing things we’ve done before. We dream about doing things we’ve never done, or possibly that no one has ever done. When aiming for an ambitious goal like this we can research every detail, get advice from top experts and plan a well thought out strategy. But we can’t possibly know everything there is to know about something we’ve never done before. If we knew everything there was to know we would have already done it.
When going after a dream, at some point, to some degree or another, we’re going to have to take some kind of a leap of faith.
I speak a lot about this in my book. But nothing could be a better example of this than Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin’s trip to the moon. Here you have the two top Astronauts in the US Space Program, a very young program with lots of failures and successes to its credit. You can be sure that these men asked every question they could think of and understood all the available information. But how much information was there? Not much. The U.S. had successfully orbited around the moon and the Russians had successfully crashed into it. But no one had ever safely landed on it. And forget landing on it, how about getting back off of it, rendezvousing and docking with the orbiting command module which would then carry them home. Nothing even close to that had ever been done!
They believed it was possible for them so succeed, but there were certainly no guarantees.
They knew they wanted it badly enough to do what it was going to take to make it happen and they did everything they possibly could to prepare.
But on July 16, 1969 when they climbed into Apollo 11 for the launch, there was still so much they didn’t know and that they couldn’t know. They had to take a leap of faith. And it was a leap which briefly united all the people of the world and would forever change the course of human history.
Don’t wait for a guarantee before your dare to go after your dreams. There are no guarantees. If you are going to live life to its fullest at some point or another, you’ll have to take a leap of faith. Know it’s coming and be ready for it.
It was a true honor to have met Neil Armstrong. He will forever be one of my great heroes and I’m sure he is flying even higher than the moon.