What Is Awesomeness, and Why Does It Need Its Own Blog?


AS11-40-5872_21Dec2008I was going to start this blog over the weekend, when I had some time free. But today is the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 launch, and I can think of no better expression of what I want this blog to be about.

In 1962, JFK gave a speech at Rice University defending the space program and reaffirming his goal of reaching the moon within the decade. The speech contained this gem:

“But why, some say, the moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic? Why does Rice play Texas?

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.”

And of course, in the last year of the decade, Neil Armstrong took “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

I marvel all the time at the fact that we made it to the moon. That thing, up in the sky, that thing you can point to and which seems to me more than a giant leap away…we decided we were going there, we figured out how, we corrected our mistakes along the way, and we did it.

This is what I think people mean by “awesomeness.” It’s skill, boldness, achievement, making the most of your life. The dictionary definition is “extremely impressive or daunting; inspiring great admiration, apprehension, or fear,” and I think that is one of the rare cases where commonly used slang has retained its original meaning. Awesomeness denotes an extremely impressive or daunting achievement, something beyond the common and which requires extremely impressive skill. Going to the moon or climbing the highest mountain–clearly awesome. Pulling off a complicated guitar solo or difficult rock-climbing move or any of the many other things people commonly call “awesome”–clearly awesome.

And, obviously, none of this is easy. If it were easy, it wouldn’t qualify. Acquiring the capacity is a confusing adventure.  Some people just jump in and seem to pick up skills and execute effortlessly; others similarly jump in but struggle fruitlessly. Clearly, these two people differ somehow in their approach.

And that’s where I’d like to help out. The major goal of my life is to explore the world of goal-pursuit, understand it the best I can, and share my findings to the seekers out there, helping them along the way. I can’t learn how to live your life for you–that’s always going to be up to the individual person–but maybe I can help by collecting observations, collating them, clarifying things. To borrow a teacher’s related metaphor, I’m acting here as a map-maker.

This blog is the journal of my explorations, where I note observations so that I might record them for later map-making and share them with others to see if they are seeing the same thing. Some of the things I’m interested in writing about are: life-goals, productive and unproductive relationships at work, self-correction, motivation; but I’m going to be exploring basically anything I come across that I think others might find interesting. Please feel free to disagree with my observations and conclusions anywhere along the way.

My hope as a map-maker is that you can look at your own world with the guidance of the map and figure out what you want to do in it, where the obstacles might be, and how you might want to deal with them. I want to see more moon-launches. I want to see great films and novels. I want to see incredible advances in science. I want to see awesome products come out of awesome companies.

My wildest hope is to help in pushing out the boundaries of what people consider impressive or daunting, so that today’s challenges become tomorrow’s childs play. And then we’ll just have to push out a little further to new, previously impossible goals. Why would we do that? Because they’re hard!

So go forth! Do something awesome! Then come back and tell us what happened while you were out there!



  1. I’m inspired. I want to do something awesome. I want to climb a mountain in Colorado. Let’s do it.

    Blog is exciting. Looking forward to next entry.

  2. Awesomeness is a blog about awesomeness.

  3. Yay! Another blog! 🙂

    • Well, Wendy’s out, and I figured someone at JetBlue had to have one.

  4. Great first entry.

    I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the fact that achieving great things is not supposed to be easy.

    I find myself schocked at how powerful an idea this can be. It really puts setbacks in their proper perspective. If you are trying to do something insanely difficult (and insanely great), it stands to reason that there will be setbacks; there will be a whole lot of setbacks. But if it were easy, it wouldn’t be nearly as meaningful an achievement.

    Anyway, hopefully this blog will help me remember that.

  5. Is the awesomeness only in the end? Isn’t there awesomeness in just the pursuit, whether you get there or not?
    When I was first starting out in my career I was very focused and goal oriented. At some point after I reached many of my goals I realized that the end (reaching a goal) only lasted a moment—the process, the learning, the growth, the exposure to different people and places was far more awesome than the goal itself. Of course, I wasn’t going to the moon!
    Just a few thoughts after reading your blog a few times. It always takes me awhile.
    Look forward to more. Love a

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