When John F. Kennedy gathered the best and brightest to discuss the possibility of landing on the moon, he didn’t ask for factual answers. He asked them to humor him and discuss the steps needed to make things happen. In a very shrewd manner, he asked them why not.
We know what happened next. On September 12, 1962 he gave his famous speech at Rice University and spoke these memorable lines:
We choose to go to the moon. 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.
That inspired a generation about the possibilities of space exploration. And we achieved what was once considered impossible by landing on the moon on July 12, 1969 with Apollo 11.
Asking why is almost reflexive and the results are too often closed-ended. We get the answer, process it and move on.
Asking why not opens the door to possibilities.
When it comes to our businesses, we need to ask why not. We’re not looking for pat answers – we need bold ideas to overcome our challenges and think of new ways to grow.
Ask why not and we start to think about how to make things happen.
And that’s a huge step toward reaching that big, audacious goal.
Here’s the amazing speech in its entirety, set to start at the famous part. When was the last time you asked yourself Why not?