Astro Teller, Captain of Moonshots at Google[x], gave a keynote at SXSW in 2013 imploring the standing-room-only crowd to think big, really big. As in, put-a-human-on-the-moon-even-though-it's-never-been-done-before big (which is what John F. Kennedy promised to the world in 1962).
I walked out of the capacious auditorium re-galvanized with the notion that nothing is impossible if you have faith, valor, sticktoitiveness and, naturally, an idea with a little audacity. Any one of us can do big things, and should. Heck. We were born. It's the inherent call of every human being to go out and make a splash, a name, a meaningful difference. I'm so in. Ready? Break!
Fast forward a day or two later to me sitting inside a "Bags fly free" Boeing 737 preparing to roll down the Austin–Bergstrom International Airport tarmac. Leafing through the pages of a book, a quote by Mother Teresa stares back at me: "Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love."
Wha...? Hold on a minute. I want to do great things, I don't want to do small things. Mother Teresa, why are you being such a buzzkill?
Twenty months of subconscious simmering and it dawned on me: the unassuming woman who worked most of her adult life bringing dignity to Kolkata's poor, and who is now a candidate for sainthood, was talking about shooting for the moon, too.