History of Moonshot Thinking

Moonshot: The History of Thinking Big

As kids we’re taught that anything is possible if we put our mind to it. So why is it that as we grow older, we’re constantly looking for limitations?

Little by little we begin to abide by the ways of the world, forgo our dreams and compromise. We’re told to be moderate with our goals and reasonable with our expectations from life. Just like the grasshopper trapped inside a shut jar, which shortens its leap by learned limits, we learn to walk again instead of run in life.

But every once in awhile, a major breakthrough comes along which makes us question mainstream beliefs and dares us to dream more, bigger, and in multi-colour. Instead of wishing for 10% better, we find ourselves daring to go for 1000%, just like when we were kids.

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Those in the 1960s who were bold enough to go after the Moon, are those who eventually come back with lunar pebbles in their pockets, stars in their eyes, and amazing stories that will continue to echo through halls of fame for years to come.

The Moon landings had all of the hallmarks of a Moonshot; they’re wild, ambitious, mesmerising, larger than life. And once carried out, they change the world for good – and for the better.

So, what exactly is Moonshot thinking, where did it originate, and how does it work in real life?


Daring to dream: How Moonshot thinking began

Moonshot thinking is a problem-solving approach we owe nearly all 21st century commodities to. It’s also a school of thought which has been steadily gaining momentum in business and innovation arena over the past few years. The term itself has roots in the speech President John F. Kennedy delivered at Rice University in September 1962, when he made the bold declaration which went down in the history of motivational speaking.

“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.”

Kennedy couldn’t foresee how and when precisely the Moon landing would be made. Nor could he guess that his bold statement would continue to resonate all the way to the Moon and back in the decades to come, but he believed it and his vision came true on July 20 1969.

It’s precisely this kind of Kennedy-esque thinking and a seemingly crazy pursuit of wildly ambitious goals which Alphabet’s (Google X) Astro Teller built his life’s around. Judging by the progress the ‘Captain of Moonshots’ has made so far, the world will be in for quite a few unprecedented breakthroughs in the course of the next decade.


Moonshot thinking 101

Essentially, Moonshot thinking rests on three key components which the director of Alphabet’s research and development factory outlined in an interview for the Washington Post:

“Generally, we think of Moonshots this way: The first is, there has to be a huge problem with the world that we want to solve. The second is that there has to be some science-fiction sounding product or service that, if we could make it, however unlikely that is, it would actually make that problem go away. And then there has to be some technology breakthrough that gives us some faith that we could actually at least get started on trying to build that product or service.”

According to the head of the plant where groundbreaking hi-tech projects, it’s easier to come up with a solution that’s 1000% better than to improve an existing product by 10% – and it’s more efficient too. This assumption lies at the core of Moonshot thinking and it’s the driving engine behind experiments conducted by Teller’s team.

It works for a pretty simple reason; when looking for a fix that’s 1000 times better, innovators aren’t restrained by existing methodologies. This opens the door to unstoppable torrent of inspiration and outrageously daring, yet highly feasible solutions to problems that affect millions and were once considered beyond avail.


Take a wild aim: To the Moon and back

If you look at it closely, you’ll realize that most of the things you’re surrounded by today are the result of Moonshot thinking: your laptop, smartphone, coffee thermos, microwave, fridge, even the chair you’re sitting on. Fundamentally, all modern gadgets and gizmos we use on an everyday basis were a Moonshot idea once, and it’ll probably be the same in the decades to come.

Right now, several Moonshots are coming true which were formerly thought to be inconceivable, such as SpaceX, Google’s self-driving car, and Made in Space. There’s no way of knowing what amazing innovations the future may bring, as mankind’s vision of progress continues to grow and evolve beyond the limits of the Solar system, but one thing is certain beyond doubt: with Moonshot thinkers behind the wheel, the generations to come may just fly deep into the outer space and land on stars Hubble can nowadays barely make out.

Don’t let your dreams stay only dreams forever: start building your castle out of bricks, mortar, and stardust before someone beats you to it. Dare to dream, and keep dreaming bigger every day; go after your goals even if the world says they’re unachievable; repeat the drill with passion and determination, and you’ll soon be ending the day counting victories you once thought were beyond your reach.

As Walt Disney put it neatly, “All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” Inspirational stuff, wouldn’t you agree?

In case you couldn’t tell, we at Lucid are passionate about body betterment, neuro-enhancement, productivity & focus. To be kept up to date on any other blogs or infographics, add yourself to our community mailing list.
Hendrik Kruizinga

Hendrik is the Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer at Lucid. He avidly pursues great design, experiential products and the a daily dose of betterment.