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Jul 18, 201908:00 AMMaking Madison

with Buckley Brinkman

Moon landing anniversary recalls the forgotten speed of freedom

(page 2 of 2)

We should be thriving in this new world, but somewhere along the way we let the naysayers slow us down. The Apollo program had them. The folks who said, “We can’t afford it,” or “It’s inefficient,” or “We should be using this money on social programs.” Does this sound familiar? The difference in the ’60s was that the power of the vision and challenge drove through these objections and put men on the moon.

Our times cry out for that speed of freedom to address our present challenges. The speed of current technology creates new advances every day. Humans are not keeping up with these advances. In fact, most of us are falling behind this progress, creating fear with deep new roots. We’re afraid of personal failure — keeping up with technology and maintaining a minimal value that allows us to support our families. We’re afraid of regressing — that our children will do worse than we did — both in terms of income and well-being. We also face existential fear — that some terrorist or tyrant will execute a scheme worthy of a sci-fi thriller. In the face of these fears, it’s difficult to recreate the speed of freedom in our times.

Myopic leadership also makes it difficult to move at the speed of freedom. It’s difficult to imagine business leaders jeopardizing quarterly earnings performance in order to support broader visions. It’s doubtful that educational leaders can consistently move beyond narrow academic pursuits to unlock more universal advances that help all of us. Surely, our government cannot move beyond any actions that don’t lead to victory in the next election. Finally, the rest of us are too busy finding our own narrow slice of security to participate in grand visions.

Reaching the speed of freedom requires all of us to move beyond those fears. Businesspeople making the quarterly numbers and driving a mission focused on more than just profit. Educators creating new core pathways that make it easier for all of us to seek the truth, rather than just mint a degree. Our government building the bridges to accomplish the great things we are called to do. The speed of freedom requires the rest of us to participate in all three arenas to build a better approach.

Few of us can trigger the next moonshot. Still, we can each make our own contribution to the speed of freedom in our corner of the world. We can dream big and reach beyond our present capabilities to create those new goals that seem impossible to accomplish. We can engage others who share our vision and help us reach even farther. Finally, we can find that internal strength and perseverance to make these difficult challenges come alive.

Together we can energize a new future. We can harness technology’s speed and power to create a better future for everyone. Connecting our resources and applying a heavy dose of American spirit will push the U.S. back to the forefront of important issues. We have the capability to create a future beyond the imagination — a future that pulls us together and brings everyone along.

Be sure to celebrate the speed of freedom as we remember Apollo 11 over the coming weeks. Then do your part to make the future better.

(If you like great stories about the space program in the ’60s, find a copy of One Giant Leap by Charles Fishman.)

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About This Blog

Buckley Brinkman is executive director and CEO of the Wisconsin Center for Manufacturing & Productivity and writes about the manufacturing sector in Greater Madison and throughout Wisconsin. He has a breadth of experience in helping companies drive growth, world-class competitiveness, and performance excellence, and has led efforts to save dozens of operations in the U.S. by finding new ways for them to compete. A Wisconsin native, Brinkman holds a business degree from the University of Wisconsin and an MBA from the Harvard Business School.

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