There’s always a job to be done. A plan to be executed. A strategy to be realised. For the company, and in your role at the company. And for your life – the plan and the strategy you have for yourself.
My question to you is, “How high are you aiming?” I mean, when you create the strategy and the plan for your life (or for the company), are you being cautious and reasonable and setting your sights quite low? Or are you being less cautious and a little more unreasonable, and setting your sights quite high?
The default setting is to aim on the high side of low. I’d say that’s about a 7/10. A pretty reasonable target to aim at. A fairly decent number to hit. And there’s a whole heap of conventional wisdom that makes sure it stays that way. “Pull your head in.” “Remember Icarus, the guy who flew too high.” “Don’t be stupid!”.
I reckon this is playing a crummy game – small time, safe and uninspiring. I’ve always felt this way about it, not that I’ve always set my sights as high as I would have liked though. And then I started working with the CSIRO and Data61.
Adrian Turner is the former CEO of Data61 (I worked with him to name and brand Data61). He hails from The Silicon Valley, and has an impressive track record. In one meeting he turns to me and says, “I reckon we should take a moon shot.” A moon shot? “What’s that?”, I asked him, fully knowing the answer but asking anyway.
A moon shot is when you aim really high – as high as the moon in fact. So it’s a long shot. It may not happen or come off, but it may. There are risks involved. Failures along the way will happen. In fact, if you’re not failing you’re not trying hard enough. But you get to have a real go. And if you don’t get to the moon you’ll end up somewhere close. At least you won’t be a 7/10.
But there’s something about having a moon shot that feels a little underwhelming to me. We did land a man on the moon in 1969, after all – 47 years ago. So I reckon the new target should be Mars. Elon Musk (CEO of Spacex) is planning to colonise Mars by around 2035. The Martian movie shows how you could live in Mars. One thousand people have signed up to be the first people to live on Mars. Elon Musk even says he wants to die on Mars, just not on impact.
So Mars is the new moon. Mars becomes the aiming point. For your company. For your life. For your self. Is there any other way to live your life or run a company. Take a shot at Mars and you’ll get past the moon. Take a shot at Mars and you’ll know you’re alive.