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Thinking like an astronaut: life lessons from Hadfield

Story of my life. I wanted to become a pilot and an astronaut. I had enough enthusiasm to move a small country in the effort to make it happen, but it turned out I was colorblind. No flying, no sexy planes, no rockets. But I always tried to think like an astronaut, be it a colorblind one.

Meet Chris Hadfield. The man who sang Space Oddity live from the Space Station. The Canadian that made US space travel sexy again. The guy that was tweeting with Captain Kirk while flying in a tin can. The hero who says without a lot of fuzz: “I broke into Mir using a Swiss Army knife. Never leave the planet without one.”

CHris Hadfield Thinking Like an astronaut
Tweeting with Kirk

I’ve bought his book An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth for the fourth time. I need to stop giving it away (or I should buy it in bulk :-)). It became one of the corner stones of my thinking. It’s full of wisdom. It’s how I select my teams (Could I stand spending weeks with them in a tiny space ship? Would they be able to fix the toilet?), it’s how I try to think about business. Chris Hadfield translates perfectly how thinking like an astronaut can be a very good way of moving around here on planet earth.

Here are a few quotes:

Competence means keeping your head in a crisis, sticking with a task even when it seems hopeless, and improvising good solutions to tough problems when every second counts. It encompasses ingenuity, determination and being prepared for anything.

Anticipating problems and figuring out how to solve them is actually the opposite of worrying: it’s productive.”

In my experience, something similar is true on Earth. Ultimately, I don’t determine whether I arrive at the desired professional destination. Too many variables are out of my control. There’s really just one thing I can control: my attitude during the journey, which is what keeps me feeling steady and stable, and what keeps me headed in the right direction. So I consciously monitor and correct, if necessary, because losing attitude would be far worse than not achieving my goal.

Good leadership means leading the way, not hectoring other people to do things your way.”

It’s mostly a matter of changing your perspective.”

Hadfield Thinking like an astronaut

Astronauts are smarter, faster and tougher than everyone else, and they are able to fix a toilet. Flying a complicated machine through space is no fun when the shit is gently floating around, pardon my French. Think like an astronaut. You don’t have to go to space to learn how to do that.

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