Col. Chris Hadfield is out of this world. To be correct – WAS – out of this world.
He’s made two flights on the Space Shuttle, and commanded the International Space Station, but it was Hadfield’s zero-gravity rendition of David Bowie’s Space Oddity and his breathtaking photographs that earned him superstar status.
How great is it that eight hundred grade six students heard tales from outer and inner space from a real live Rocket Man at North Pointe.
In his pre-talk walk-through, the Commander quickly let it be known that he’s a detail guy. Audio and video techs, and even a school board representative, were coached on his precise expectations.
Behind the scenes he graciously posed for pictures in the lighting of his liking. Shaking hands with children became an instructional experience.
“When you shake hands, always look the person in the eye,” he coached Lucas Celemin.
A Child’s Dream
When he was nine years old, Chris Hadfield watched the Apollo moon landing and knew what he wanted to be when he grew up.
He told the students, “I wasn’t destined to be an astronaut. I had to turn myself into one.”
“Astronauts are taught to view the world – and ourselves – differently. My shorthand for it is ‘thinking like an astronaut.’ But you don’t have to go to space to do that.”
“It’s mostly a matter of changing your perspective.”
“Anybody who thinks the sky’s the limit is not thinking very clearly … I’ve been above the sky. The sky is this paper-thin sheath around the world and almost everything that exists lies beyond the sky.”
Thinking Like An Astronaut
1. Sweat the small stuff in order to manage stress.
Chris said averting disaster isn’t about making life-or-death decisions – it’s about learning and understanding all the little things that develop into a bigger issue.
Paying attention to details – like physical health symptoms or signs of car trouble – lessens your stress in the long run.
2. Visualize defeat not victory.
The way to build confidence is envisioning and preparing for the worst.
Chris told the students, “Early success in any endeavor only reinforces lack of preparation. If you’re going to do something new and worthwhile you’re going to fail. And that’s a good thing. Failure shouldn’t be shocking. Expect it.”
3. Embrace the power of negative thinking.
Chris explained why he was trained to ask, “What’s the next thing that can kill me?”
“I learned how to anticipate problems in order to prevent them, and how to respond effectively in critical situations. We were trained to look on the dark side and to imagine the worst things that could possibly happen. By thinking about what could go wrong in any specific situation, you preempt problems with your own solutions.”
4. Competently respond to intense experiences, unemotionally.
Astronauts are trained to respond unemotionally by immediately prioritizing threats and methodically seeking to diffuse them.
“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.”
As Commander Hadfield spoke, I watched the expressions on the students’ faces as they imagined interstellar possibilities.
He asked, “Which one of you will walk on the moon? Maybe live on the moon?”
“Start thinking like an astronaut. Today.”
APPLICATION: What do you want to be when you grow up? It’s never too late to start thinking like an astronaut on earth. Please leave a comment below. Thank you.
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