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10 Inspiring Life Lessons from Astronaut Chris Hadfield

10 Inspiring Life Lessons from Astronaut Chris Hadfield

Chris Hadfield is an amazing human being. He commanded the International Space Station. He used YouTube to teach us about life in orbit. He used Twitter to give us a new perspective on our planet. He did that viral cover of Bowie’s Space Oddity.

Then he came home. He wrote a book called An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth. I read that book. It was awesome. Here are some things I learned from it.

1. Have an attitude

In NASA terminology, your attitude is your orientation relative to two positions, for example your spaceship relative to the Earth and a satellite. Losing your attitude is bad, because you could end up drifting, lost and alone in outer space.

Chris Hadfield also thinks of life trajectory like attitude control – you need to stay on the right path to achieve your goals. It’s always not in your control whether you get there or not, but you can do everything in your power to make it happen. In life, losing your attitude – drifting from your path – is way worse than not reaching your destination.

2. Aim for zero

In any given situation, according to Hadfield, you’re either a ‘plus-one’, a ‘zero’ or a ‘minus-one’. If you’re a plus-one, you’re actively adding value. If you’re a zero, you’re generally competent and don’t get in the way. Being a minus-one sucks, because you’re a liability and actively cause problems.

However, if you’re a plus-one and you walk into a situation trying to prove how great you are, you can go from a plus one to a minus one – your ‘I got this’ mentality might easily irritate and prove detrimental to the dynamic.

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So the best thing to do in a new situation? Aim for zero. Listen. Observe. Offer advice. Don’t try to take control of everything. If you know what you’re doing, you won’t need to tell people you’re a plus one. They’ll know it.

3. Utilise the power of negative thinking

‘Negative thinking’ sounds pessimistic. Defeatist. But when you think about it, planning for the worst can actually be energising and confidence-boosting. How? Well, if you always prepare a contingency for every scenario you’ll never be caught off-guard.

Chris Hadfield’s approach is to ask: “What’s the next thing that could kill me?” It sounds exhausting and masochistic. But actually, it isn’t. By thinking about what could go wrong in any specific situation, you preempt problems with your own solutions.

And that means you can actually relax and enjoy life, knowing you’re ready to act if things go wrong.

Chris Hadfield being interviewed

    4. Sweat the small stuff

    “An astronaut who doesn’t sweat the small stuff is a dead astronaut,” says Hadfield. The lesson: averting disaster isn’t about making one-off life-or-death decisions – it’s about learning and understanding all the little things that develop into a bigger issue. An example of astronaut small stuff is knowing the ‘boldface’ – the tried-and-tested instructions that make up NASA’s Flight Rules manual.

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    Not sweating the small stuff runs counter to conventional wisdom, yet there’s truth in it. Yes, an astronaut’s work environment is radically more hostile and dangerous than most people’s. But the point is that paying attention to the granular details – like physical health symptoms or signs of car trouble – makes you incrementally safer.

    5. Do care what others think

    It’s hard to accept we’re not in control of our own destiny. But the fact is other people have more influence over the course of our careers and lives than we do. Chris Hadfield has been to space three times – in 1995 and 2001 on the Space Shuttle and 2013 on the ISS. Yet no matter how hard he worked, it was always someone else’s decision to put him on a mission.

    Which means it makes sense to care what people think about you and your performance. So get feedback. Learn from it. Improve. If the only opinion you’re worried about is your own, you’re probably going to limit your progress.

    6. When the stakes are high, preparation is everything

    We can’t always control what happens to us in life when big moments come around. But we can control how prepared we are. It might seem obvious to prepare if you’re planning to pilot a Soyuz rocket to the ISS, but many of us fail to prepare for normal stuff in life – even if we know there are big moments are coming up.

    So whether it’s a big exam, a job interview or sports final, when the high-stakes situations arise planning for success is key. In most scenarios, Hadfield argues that you’ve passed or failed before you even begin, depending on your level of preparation.

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    Chris Hadfield speaking about his experience

      7. Good leadership means leading the way, not bullying other people to do things your way

      Some people are very successful at intimidating people into going along with their plans. It’s the brute force approach to getting things done. But leading through coercion and bullying others means you’re building your leadership credentials on very weak foundations.

      Chris Hadfield reckons the better way to lead is by proving the best course of action. Setting an example. It’s the consensus-building approach. By showing people the right path, you’re creating a stronger platform for teamwork and leadership. People will follow you because they want to, not because they have to.

      8. Put groupthink at the core of your teamwork

      For Hadfield, the key question to ask when you’re part of a team is: “How can I help get us to where we need to go?” It’s beautifully simple: put the team before yourself, and you’re more likely to win.

      Hadfield argues that you really don’t need to be a superhero to be a valuable member of a team – empathy and a sense of humour are often more important. He also suggests that searching for ways to lighten the mood is never a waste of time, because it encourages expeditionary spirit – everyone pulling together in extraordinary circumstances to collectively accomplish a shared goal.

      Conversely, while sharing common gripes can create a bond between team mates, excessive whining is corrosive and the antithesis of expeditionary behaviour.

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      Chris Hadfield (left) post-landing

        Credit: NASA

        9. Criticise the problem, never the person

        Chris Hadfield believes that if you need to make a strong criticism, it’s better to pinpoint the problem rather than attack the person. Yes, it can be frustrating when you suffer for someone’s mistake, but ridiculing or berating a colleague is counter-productive. ‘Work the problem’ is a core mantra of NASA culture. It’s not about ego.

        In fact, Hadfield advocates going out of your way to help colleagues improve in all areas. This seems strange coming from the hyper-competitive world of NASA, but Hadfield argues that promoting colleagues’ interests helps you stay competitive. Plus you have a vested interest in your colleagues’ success – the better they are, the more they can help you succeed.

        10. Be ready. Work. Hard. Enjoy it!

        Ultimately, Chris Hadfield’s life lessons boil down to being the best that you can be through hard work and preparation. This approach has taken him from being a fighter pilot and test pilot right through to a 20-year astronaut career. It’s not a ground-breaking philosophy, admittedly, but then how often do we truly earn the things we want by working for them? How often do we just wish or hope they’d happen?

        Featured photo credit: NASA via flickr.com

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        Last Updated on July 12, 2021

        100 Incredible Life Hacks That Make Life So Much Easier

        100 Incredible Life Hacks That Make Life So Much Easier

        Want to learn some quick and easy life hacks that are easy to do, low cost and saves you time?

        By tweaking little things in your daily life, it can make your life much more convenient!

        Here’re 100 of the most practical life hacks so you can just pick up any of them right away!

        83 tie a small piece of bright colored fabric

          84 write random letter

            85 use a rubberband

              86 dorm smell bad

                87 lean your phone on your sunglassess

                  89 how to waterproof your shoes

                    90 take a picture of the name card

                      91 iron inside out

                        92 old newspaper

                          93 tumble try shoes

                            keep a card like this

                              SONY DSC

                                94 soap bar

                                  95 make a hole

                                    96 drop the battery

                                      97 use a coozie

                                        98 when taking a picture

                                          use a clean dust pan

                                            try a pants hanger

                                              use your cellphone light

                                                use a spring from an old pen

                                                  quick and easy iphone speaker

                                                    user binder clips

                                                      wrap a wet paper towel around your beverage

                                                        put pancake mix in a ketchup bottle

                                                          clean out an old lotion bottle for your beach

                                                            use a muffin tin to serve condiments at a bbq

                                                              doritos are great for kindling

                                                                use nail polish to identify different keys

                                                                  use a hanging shoe rack to store cleaning supplies

                                                                    freeze grapes to chill white wine without

                                                                      use paper clips to organize your cables

                                                                        almost finished your jar of nutella

                                                                          sick of having a box full of tangled

                                                                            unroll the rim to increase the capacity

                                                                              cut open toilet paper rolls and use as a cuff

                                                                                remove the stem from strawberries

                                                                                  turn an old bottle into a simple little cord holder

                                                                                    for iced coffee and iced cappuccino, use frozen coffee cubes

                                                                                      how to fold a fitted bed sheet

                                                                                        tired of snoozing past your alarm

                                                                                          place a rubber band around an open paint can to wipe your brush on

                                                                                            ut a wooden spoon across a boiling pot

                                                                                              use bread clips to save flip-flops

                                                                                                take pictures of friends holding items

                                                                                                  how i always know which headphone is the left one

                                                                                                    put a stocking over the end of a vacuum

                                                                                                      How to make sure you drink enough water

                                                                                                        user a can opener to open blister

                                                                                                          good sandwich guide

                                                                                                            turn your muffin pans upside down

                                                                                                              50 pounds of groceries and living on the 5th floor

                                                                                                                the right way to make a blt

                                                                                                                  add one teaspoon of baking soda

                                                                                                                    38

                                                                                                                      hair straighteners equals to collar irons

                                                                                                                        stack your clothes vertically to see them all

                                                                                                                          the right way to make cookies in the summer

                                                                                                                            how to clean a blender

                                                                                                                              the right way to eat a popsicle

                                                                                                                                use bread clips to label and organize power cords

                                                                                                                                  to get the built up residue off of your shower head

                                                                                                                                    user a hair clip to orgainize long wires

                                                                                                                                      a frozen saturated sponge in a bag

                                                                                                                                        rub stuck zipper teeth with a graphite pencil

                                                                                                                                          use a soda pop tab

                                                                                                                                            50

                                                                                                                                              51 How to multiply large numbers in your head.

                                                                                                                                                52 How to open a bottle if you dont have a corkscrew.

                                                                                                                                                  rub a walnut on damaged wooden furniture

                                                                                                                                                    kids fall out of bed

                                                                                                                                                      use toothpaste to clear up hazy car

                                                                                                                                                        58

                                                                                                                                                          59 keep pizza out while driving home

                                                                                                                                                            60 put your straw through the tab to keep it from rising

                                                                                                                                                              hold oreos with a fork so your fingers

                                                                                                                                                                Never lose your remotes again

                                                                                                                                                                  hiding your emergency money

                                                                                                                                                                    use a bread tab to hold your spot on a roll

                                                                                                                                                                      if you are at a hotel and run out of chargers

                                                                                                                                                                        keep a square of cardboard in a ziplock bag

                                                                                                                                                                          If you need to pee or smoke at a bar

                                                                                                                                                                            drill holes in the bottom of your garbage

                                                                                                                                                                              use an accented letter as your passcode

                                                                                                                                                                                use a squeeze ketchup bottle top with your shopvac

                                                                                                                                                                                  do something unusual when locking the door

                                                                                                                                                                                    when heating leftovers space out a circle in the middle

                                                                                                                                                                                      dont burn yourself in those hard to reach candles

                                                                                                                                                                                        put a small amount of water in a glass when you microwave your pizza

                                                                                                                                                                                          75 use a piece of paper to organize

                                                                                                                                                                                            use half a pool noodle

                                                                                                                                                                                              pencil case to store cables

                                                                                                                                                                                                78 clothespin to hold nail

                                                                                                                                                                                                  79 make blts

                                                                                                                                                                                                    80 take a picture of your fridge

                                                                                                                                                                                                      81 fill plastic water bottles

                                                                                                                                                                                                        82 right ways to eat chips

                                                                                                                                                                                                          99 if your plug keeps failing

                                                                                                                                                                                                            100 put the banana on the wire

                                                                                                                                                                                                              88 before you throw away a post it

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Source: Reddit LifeProTips

                                                                                                                                                                                                                There you go, 100 awesome life hacks that you can try right now to make your life a lot easier!

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