Fifty years ago today, Alan Shepard sat in the small Mercury space capsule on top of a Redstone rocket. His flight into space lasted only 15 minutes (Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin had orbited the planet once a month earlier), but that particular small step was a direct line to another small step that happened eight years later.

The following year, President Kennedy said the following in a speech delivered at Rice University in Texas:

We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.

Think back to some of the hardest projects you’ve worked on. Not necessarily the ones that became hard because of a difficult client, uncooperative team member, or management that didn’t know (and didn’t even bother to find out) what you do and didn’t know how to provide support for what you’re doing. The hard projects – the ones that, by their nature, demanded you focus your time and energies. What small steps became giant leaps for you? For your team? For your client?

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