What is a Moonshot?

09/04/2017 01:34 am ET

In May 1961, President John F. Kennedy announced the seemingly impossible goal of putting a man on the Moon by the end of the decade.

Nobody knew how that would get done.

The technology wasn’t even remotely ready.

Yet this first “Moonshot” was achieved in eight years’ time.

My definition of an entrepreneurial or corporate Moonshot comes from my friend Astro Teller, who is the current head of X (formerly Google X).

He defines it as going 10X bigger, while the rest of the world is trying to grow 10%.

As Astro described it, most executive teams aim for 10% growth... they’ll work harder, buy new equipment, work nights or weekends, and try to eke out 10% growth.

A Moonshot (10x improvement), in contrast, can’t be achieved by working harder alone.

You have to start with a clean sheet of paper and be willing to try seemingly crazy ideas.

You have to keep writing down crazy ideas until you find one that doesn’t actually seem so crazy.

Don’t forget that “the day before something is truly a breakthrough, it’s a crazy idea.”

Moonshot entrepreneurs like the founders of Uber, Google, Facebook, and Tesla didn’t just wake up one morning with an idea to change the world.

They found a big, juicy, seemingly unsolvable problem and didn’t sleep until they came up with a solution.

But why do Moonshots matter?

As Astro described it, there are three principal reasons:

  1. When you try and do something radically hard, you approach the problem differently than when you try to make something incrementally better.  The goal of 10x improvement forces you to throw out old problems and brainstorm something radically new.
  2. When you attack a problem as if it were solvable, even if you don’t know how to solve it, you’ll be shocked with what you come up with.  Just giving yourself permission to say, “I have no idea what I’m going to do,” and, again, just forcing yourself to write down crazy ideas will allow you to ideate convergences and breakthroughs you wouldn’t have normally made. It unshackles you.
  3. Aiming for something that is 10x better vs 10% better is 100 times more worth it… but never 100 times harder.

If learning about and experimenting with Moonshots is of interest to you, please check out this video from my Abundance 360 Digital program, where I discuss the importance and power of moonshots, and why we as entrepreneurs need to take them.

We can take Moonshots.

Nothing on this planet (or off this planet, for that matter) is out of reach.

Our world is shaped by a few people with crazy ideas.

Will you be one of them?

What’s your moonshot?

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