An astronaut’s guide to life on earth by Chris Hadfield

A non-fiction pick by Jean-Louis

Random House Canada, 2013
Random House Canada, 2013

Chris Hadfield is easily Canada’s best known astronaut and he may be among the most recognized in the world. This guy is a rock star! Thanks to his wonderful photography and his music video transmitted from the International Space Station (ISS), he connected about 11 million earthlings to the space world. Twitter and YouTube were his tools and like most of us in our 50s, he got a little help from his son to connect through social media.

In the book, Hadfield shares his journey to become an astronaut right from his nine-year-old self watching the first moon landing. He set his sights on becoming an astronaut even before Canada had a space program–luckily, our country got on board and when they did, he was ready.

An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth is sprinkled with some advice on how to achieve one’s goals, but it is not really a how-to book. And Hadfield is keen not to get too preachy or technical. There are a host of acronyms to navigate, but even these are not distracting.

As Hadfield moves through his career, he stresses how the life of an astronaut is really a team sport. Individuals might be the best test pilot, or have multiple PhDs, but when the space toilet stops working you better be ready to get hands-on and figure it out.

One interesting observation by Hadfield goes something like this. In any situation you have three kinds of people: plus ones–individuals who achieve beyond expectation and make a unique contribution; zeroes–those people who do their job perfectly and may not get noticed; and minus ones–those whose actions or attitudes detract from the success of the group/team. In the astronaut world, everyone wants to be a plus-one, and likely all have the ability, but humility and dedication to the team makes them perfectly okay if they end up being zeroes.

This is a fun book to read about a man whose contributions are really out-of-this-world!

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