Yesterday was the 45th anniversary of the first moon landing, and I think even for those of us born a good few years later, the video of the first steps taken on the moon’s surface remains one of the most recognisable and inspiring moments in recent human history. It also got me thinking about the lessons freelancers can take from such an event, even such a long time afterwards.
One of my teachers once told me “Always aim for the moon. Even if you fail, you’ll land among the stars.” At the time, back when getting the top grade seemed like a life-or-death matter (oh yes, I was a nerd), I didn’t really understand the full meaning of this phrase, but I recently came across it again and realised it is a great metaphor for what I keep saying here – the more ambitious your goals, the further you will go.
When Kennedy set the goal, in 1961, of putting a man on the moon before the end of the decade, a lot of people probably thought it was impossible. But 8 years later, in 1969, it became reality. Would it have happened within the decade if JFK hadn’t given the space race a specific, measurable objective? We’ll never know, but I suspect not. Never forget the power that stating your goals in clear terms can have.
2. The power of words
“One small step for man, a giant leap for mankind.” I’m fairly sure that every English-speaking person in the world would recognise that phrase if you said it to them. If that’s not proof of the importance a strong slogan can have, I don’t know what it! But more than that, think carefully about every word you use when dealing with clients or potential clients – are they the words you would want to be remembered for?
3. You’ll never convince everyone
Have you ever googled ‘moon landing conspiracy’? It’s an eye-opener. This isn’t really the place to get into discussions about whether the American government would make up something so important or not, but I think it’s important to remember that sometimes people won’t believe you when you tell them how important translation is, why they shouldn’t use non-professionals and that google translate is not a replacement for human translators. People can be sceptical, and you’re never going to convince everyone in the world that they need your services. And that doesn’t need to be a problem! The important thing is to be clear in your own convictions, and find a target audience who share them with you.
So think big, measure your words, and don’t expect 100% agreement. Some fairly important lessons we can apply to our lives as professionals. I really enjoy looking at big events for inspiration – there’s something to be learnt from every situation!