JFK on what it takes to win

Business books give you tactical advice for right now, but little in the way of wisdom. I prefer to read classics and history as a reflection of what is timeless and permanent in life. What knowledge and wisdom has stood the test of time through the decades, centuries, and even millennia? Human nature doesn’t change.

One of the most recognizable politicians in history, the youngest president in U.S. history needs little introduction. Besides his many famous speeches and historical actions, he was also the man who put humanity on the moon. That united movement towards great scientific achievement and exploration inspires new generations of engineers today, who look not towards the moon, but Mars and beyond.

Yet this speech is not just about space. It’s about doing new things. Hard things. Things that we don’t know yet, and barely understand. It’s about pushing the boundaries of human knowledge and ability. It’s doing all this, while facing high odds of spectacular failure. These values are at the core of every entrepreneur alive.

But if I were to say, my fellow citizens, that we shall send to the moon, 240,000 miles away from the control station in Houston,

a giant rocket more than 300 feet tall, the length of this football field, made of new metal alloys, some of which have not yet been invented,

capable of standing heat and stresses several times more than have ever been experienced, fitted together with a precision better than the finest watch,

carrying all the equipment needed for propulsion, guidance, control, communications, food and survival,

on an untried mission, to an unknown celestial body, and then return it safely to earth,

reentering the atmosphere at speeds of over 25,000 miles per hour, causing heat about half that of the temperature of the sun

— almost as hot as it is here today —

and do all this, and do it right, and do it first before this decade is out, then we must be bold.

- President John F. Kennedy, September 12th 1962

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Thanks for reading,

Do you also find inspiration in history? Any striking examples in mind? Please share so we can benefit, too.

Thinks about the future a lot. Founder of two startups. Lives in Singapore.

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