What I learned from an Astronaut

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This book on Amazon

My name is Sasha, & I’m the co-founder of Eversnap Photography.

This was a surprisingly interesting biography of a Canadian astronaut who decided to become an astronaut when he was 9 years old and did every possible decision in his life towards his goal. Here are some of my learnings:

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1. Love the Journey

You may never achieve your big goal, but if you love the journey to your goal, you will live a happy and fulfilled life.

Odds of Chris becoming an astronaut where 0 to none. When he was born in 1959 there were no Canadian Astronauts ever.

I never felt I’d be a failure in life if I didn’t get to space…Since the odds of becoming an astronaut were nonexistent, I knew it would be pretty silly to hang my sense of self-worth on it. My attitude was more, ‘It’s probably not going to happen, but I should do things that keep me moving in the right direction, just in case — and I should be sure those things interest me, so that whatever happens, I’m happy.

Everyone knows as a startupper, the journey is tough. But also there’s an incredible amount of joy in pursuing your dream, your goal, and not selling out to short-term highs. It makes you feel alive!

2. You’re always getting ahead if you are learning.

It’s never advancement VS. enjoyment. They always come together.

…so long as you conceive of advancement in terms of learning rather than climbing to the next rung of the professional ladder. You are getting ahead if you learn, even if you wind up staying on the same rung.

3. Always be Prepared

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As a last-minute, make-it-happen kind of person, this is something that I’ve personally always struggled with. But I’ve noticed as I’m getting older and more experienced, I’m doing a lot more planning.

As an astronaut, for every day of being in space, Chris has to spend many years studying, researching, and experimenting all the different scenarios and situations that could happen while being in space. Even though very rarely any of those situations happen, he still needs to be prepared. He says the term “Just in case” many times throughout the book.

People say, “why should I get prepared for something that might never happen, whereas I can focus my energy on something that can add value today?” Chris talks about how preparedness relieves anxiety. Even if you prepare for things that you never have to do, just the fact that it relieves your general level of anxiety, that by itself makes the preparation useful.

Preparation is not only about managing external risks, but about limiting the likelihood that you’ll unwittingly add to them. When you’re the author of your own fate, you don’t want to write a tragedy. Aside from anything else, the possibility of a sequel is nonexistent.

Early success is a terrible teacher. You’re essentially being rewarded for a lack of preparation, so when you find yourself in a situation where you must prepare, you can’t do it. You don’t know how.

4. Keep your Cool

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As I have discovered again and again, things are never as bad (or as good) as they seem at the time.

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.

5. Loneliness is a mindset

I wasn’t lonely. Loneliness, I think, has very little to do with location. It’s a state of mind. In the centre of every city are some of the loneliest people in the world. If anything, because our whole planet was just outside the window, I felt even more aware of and connected to the seven billion other people who call it home.

6. Are you a 0, +1, or -1?

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In any new situation, whether it involves an elevator or a rocket ship, you will almost certainly be viewed in one of three ways. As a minus one: actively harmful, someone who creates problems. Or as a zero: your impact is neutral and doesn’t tip the balance one way or the other. Or you’ll be seen as a plus one: someone who actively adds value. Everyone wants to be a plus one, of course. But proclaiming your plus-oneness at the outset almost guarantees you’ll be perceived as a minus one, regardless of the skills you bring to the table or how you actually perform.

7. Help others look good

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Make others successful and you even more successful than the alternative.

It’s not enough to shelve your own competitive streak. You have to try, consciously, to help others succeed.

Over the years I’ve learned that investing in other people’s success doesn’t just make them more likely to enjoy working with me. It also improves my own chances of survival and success.

A super-amazing book on this subject is: Give and Take by Adam Grant! HIGHLY recommended!

If you liked this quick summary, I’d really appreciate it if you click “Recommend” below.

Written by

Product Manager, Startup Founder, Music producer, Zouk/Bachata Dancer, & mental-health junkie

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