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3 Lessons First Man on the Moon Neil Armstrong Taught us on Leadership

3 Lessons First Man on the Moon Neil Armstrong Taught us on Leadership

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Fifty years ago, astronaut Neil Armstrong was the first person to set foot on the moon. Although he was commander of the Apollo 11 mission, the new documentary “ARMSTRONG” explains why Neil never wanted to take credit for legendary accomplishment.

The film’s director, David Fairhead, wanted to introduce audiences to a side of Neil Armstrong the public really never got to see. His humility, quiet confidence and sense of humor take the spotlight throughout the film, along with his exceptional leadership abilities. David and his team bring to light several qualities of a great leader that Neil Armstrong demonstrated to the world.

1. Stay humble.

According to those who knew him, Neil Armstrong possessed a quiet confidence that was present in all he did. When he served as a pilot in the military, he was never quick to draw attention to his exceptional aviation skills. In fact, Neil did not ask to be the first man on the moon — instead, he was chosen to command the mission by a committee who knew of his skill.

“He just caught people’s eye by being good,” explained David. “Not by saying ‘me me me’ but just by being good at what he did. That’s how he progressed.”

In leadership, humility is one of the most valuable traits one can possess. Avoid making the experience about yourself. Instead, acknowledge and appreciate the people who made it possible for you to accomplish that mission.

2. Keep Calm

During the Apollo 11 moon landing, Neil is remembered for being cool as a cucumber. As audiences tuned into watch that legendary event, there was a moment when the crew was running low on fuel. With the entire world sitting on the edge of their seats, Neil remained calm and navigated the team through the mission. According to David, this collected attitude was key to Neil’s success.

“Not only was he really good at what he did, but he could keep calm,” said David.

It is important for any leader to keep a level head under pressure. Don’t let the stress of your daily “fires” push you to your edge. Take a few deep breaths, focus on your objectives and trust that your knowledge and skills will ensure a successful end result for the team you lead.

3. Be Focused

Keep your eyes on the prize. When asked about what it took to lead the team in this huge undertaking, Neil brought it back to the power of a clear objective.

“Every night we looked up and saw the moon in front of us,” Neil said. “We saw our goal in front of us, so that made it real clear.”

Set clear goals for your team, and stick to those goals. Make your focus very clear, and ensure that everyone on your team is also on the same page. When the whole crew is on board with the mission, it becomes much easier to achieve it, whether you’re landing on the moon or landing your weekly sales goals.


Incorporate these three traits into your lifestyle to become a productive, efficient and intentional leader. You don’t have to lead a mission to the moon to get started! What small step will you take to create a big leap for your team? 

Check out the latest episode of “It’s a Good Life” to learn more about Neil Armstrong’s life and leadership style, and catch Brian Buffini’s complete interview with “ARMSTRONG” director David Fairhead.

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