“I wasn’t destined to become an astronaut. I had to turn myself into one.”
Chris Hadfield’s book: An Astronauts Guide to Life on Earth was inspiring and his leadership lessons are blended into the stories Hadfield shares about following his dream to become an astronaut. The lessons are skillfully woven into the text and are valuable to all leaders whether you are a parent, a volunteer, a teacher, a health professional or a chief executive officer. The lessons are applicable in all settings – in your home, at a swimming pool, the hockey arena, in the boardroom and, of course, even in space, a place that most of us will never visit but will admire from Earth.
The value of hard work, dedication and planning are described as essential skills to meeting goals. He had a dream and worked towards that dream knowing that it may not be a possibility. He joined the military, became a test pilot, earned a Masters of Business Administration and prepared for being an astronaut while knowing the chances of becoming an astronaut were slim. He enjoyed himself along the way and valued his accomplishment and the success that he had.
It is hard to imagine applying for a job with over 5000 other applicants. Through preparation, education and hard work his dream became a reality. He described himself as “square astronaut, round hole. It’s the story of my life, really: trying to figure out how to get where I want to go when just getting out the door seems impossible.”
“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”.
A key theme throughout the book was the support of others. His wife Helene, stood beside him, encouraged him and supported him to be live his dream by picking up the household tasks, caring for their three children and experiencing life in other parts of the world. He balanced both his dreams and day-to day life and he commented: “while achieving both things may not take a village, it sure does take a team.”
“Ultimately, leadership is not about glorious crowning acts. It’s about keeping your team focused on a goal and motivated to do their best to achieve it, especially when the stakes are high and the consequences really matter. It is about laying the groundwork for other’s success, and then standing back and letting them shine”
For those of you who have read the book, what did you think? What resonated with you and what lessons will you utilize on earth?
If you have not read the book but admire this Canadian leader, what have you learned from him when you watched him sing from space with Canadian school children? What did you think when you watched him land in Russia (and by the way, he did immerse himself in life in Russia to learn Russian for his flight on the Soyuz)?