Benjamin Ola Akande

Earlier this month, the largest full moon of 2012 lit up the night sky. On Saturday, May 5, the moon was at its closest point in its orbit, putting it a mere 221,801 miles from Earth. Some called this perigee full moon a ‘supermoon.’ I call it this year’s biggest and brightest reminder to shine and stay relevant.

For me, moon goals are a reference to that amazing day when man first landed and walked on the moon. It was a stretch of many people’s imaginations to see the dream come to fruition. Technology and the times were the biggest hurdles. In the year prior, the U.S. had watched in horror as assassins killed a civil rights leader and a presidential candidate. Families waited in anguish for news of their loved ones fighting overseas in a little-known country named Vietnam. And closer to home, hundreds clashed with police over politics and personal freedom. Despite these tribulations, the nation came together to watch Neil Armstrong step on the month’s surface and to relish in a nation realizing its collective dream.

Unfortunately, more people are shying away from setting the bar too high. In a recent survey of 1,400 CEOs from America’s top corporations, 56 percent of them said they have become more risk-averse. They report a growing level of trepidation and a higher level of fear when it comes to taking chances. We live in a time where success is the only option, where there is a growing level of intense scrutiny of the performance of leaders, and where very little forgiveness is given those who fail. At times like these, it is understandable how a virtue like courage can take a backseat. Yet excessive and prolonged risk-averse behavior can eventually affect the growth and prosperity of any viable business. The impact is being felt on our psyche and as we become more focused on avoiding risk, we virtually guarantee our own failure. That might be OK for some. But even if our leaders are afraid to fail, we must find a way to succeed.

This year, as we edge closer to a presidential election, we need to make a permanent impression on our society. Like Armstrong’s footprint on the moon’s surface, our impression should be one that is never brushed away and one that is still revered decades after it’s made. What would we attempt if there was no chance of failure? What moon goal would we set if the sky was our limit?

My moon goal is for St. Louis to become the ultimate destination for emerging entrepreneurs in small-scale manufacturing in the United States. I dream that the city, which was home to the first kindergarten in America, will see its K-12 public and private schools become the essential benchmark for education across the land. And it’s my hope that those leaders of not-for-profits emerge as ‘next’ practice examples for our world. This month’s ‘supermoon’ looked down on all of us, but many may not have recognized the spotlight it placed on our homes, our businesses and our community. We have enough time to start transforming St. Louis from success to significance before the next one shines. What will be our individual and collective moon goal until then? Let’s make it a great stretch of our abilities that challenge then transform us into a future where we can thrive.

Benjamin Ola. Akande is Dean of the George Herbert Walker School of Business and Technology and chief of corporate partnerships at Webster University. Follow him on Twitter: @Benjamin_Akande