Astronauts – the epitomy of the iceberg principle. We never stop and think how these little marshmallowy rocketeers ended up being strapped to 423 tons of thrust.

The media is obsessed with the destination and not the journey, which is exactly why Chris Hadfield’s 304 page “Astronauts Guide to Life On Earth”‎ was just a joy to read. It focuses on how Commander Hadfield made his way up from a farm in rural Canada to the stars.

Hadfield's book with Queenstown in the background

Book notes:

The skill set for being an astronaut in space is actually quite simple. It’s nothing you couldn’t do like fixing toilets or packing. The challenge is becoming a jack of all trades in language, psychology, rocket science, piloting, mechanics and so much more.

Hadfield formula for success (revolves around the journey becoming more important the the destination)

  • Learn all necessary skills for the challenge
  • Pictures the most demanding challenge
  • Visualize how to realize the challenge
  • Practice that challenge until you become comfortable

Don’t go into work thinking you’re a good astronaut. Go into work thinking you’re good astronaut material. Embrace an “always learning” work ethic.

You’re always getting ahead if you are learning. Even if you stay on the same “rung” (title, salary range etc). Job titles are purely for administration purposes.

Fear is simply a synonym for “without knowledge”. If you understand the problem high-stress situations will evaporate. Look at how intimidating it was to open an online store for the first time, now it’s a piece of cake.

Early success is a bad teacher. You’re being rewarded for lack of prep. That’s why it’s so dangerous to think just because you’re an early Shopify employee you are somehow “special”.

Hadfield is a living legend. The guy did a spacewalk while blinded by detergent, passed out for 16 seconds while flying a jet fighter, and even had a live bee stuck in his visor when in formation with 3 other planes.

NASA evaluate an astronaut’s behaviour and social skills by asking people that don’t “work” with them. Relying on the opinions of facility staff like nurses. Shopify does this occasionally with guru interviews.

No question is stupid. He once poured liquid down a seemingly normal sink only to wreck havoc on the entire buildings plumbing system. Send Tobi, Adam, etc a quick email before you make a seemingly simple routine, but impactful decision.

Great framework for categorizing people. You’re either a -1, 0, or +1. People that are +1s don’t tell people they’re plus one. Aim to be a zero, until you naturally become a +1.

Don’t sail into a situation and make your presence known. Ingress without causing a ripple. Aim for a neutral impact. Aiming to be a zero is always an easy goal.

Seek to learn not to impress.

Rating 4/5 | ★★★★☆