“An astronaut is someone who’s able to make good decisions quickly, with incomplete information when the consequences really matter.”
Astronaut Chris Hadfield was on two space shuttle missions, as well as commanded the International Space Station earlier this year. He became well known for for savvy use of social media and music to get people excited about the space program. In his new book, An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth, he continues this mission.
As you might expect, Commander Hadfield’s book is filled with stories from his time in the space program. But, what’s more, he explains the mindset of an astronaut. This mindset is one which I think can be applied to any field–I know it would work in my job. It can be characterized by hard work and preparation (“sweat the small stuff”), and thinking about how what you do can contribute to the overall operation, and learning everything you can, in case it becomes necessary.
A good example of thinking about how your contribution impacts the rest of the mission comes when he talks about aiming to be a zero. Hadfield talks about how you can be a “plus one” (a fully beneficial member of the mission), a negative one (who causes problems for the mission), or a zero. When entering a situation, Hadfield suggest being a zero: even if you think you can make significant contributions, holding back observing, and trying to not create problems. Once acclimated, start to ease towards “plus one” status.
I highly recommend this book. Not only does it give a fascinating look at the modern space program, but a great way to look at life.