It will be a very exciting day at James Hillier School tomorrow when our favourite astronaut, Chris Hadfield spends the afternoon with the students. Erin and Brendan have been keen to share all the information that they are learning as each class decides on a question to ask Hadfield. In reflecting on my own opportunity to meet Hadfield, I am reposting both the meeting and the review of his amazing book!
Meeting Chris Hadfield
After reading An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth (click for review), I was very excited to join my friend Shalom to meet the retired astronaut and get our books signed. The book (which I now feel a need to reread) is inspiring! He shares his boyhood goal of walking on the moon and describes his hard work and persistence that helped him become Commander of the Space Station.
It was a long wait for the book signing as Chris got stuck in traffic related to the mudslide on the 403. He was the passenger and tweeted his progress. He even had a live chat with the couple across from us and their children were awestruck that they were speaking to an astronaut. The individuals in the line up were excited, children were dressed in space suits and people were very patient. Costco handed out chocolates and water to help with the wait.
Finally, Chris arrived at Costco to hundreds of waiting fans. He was gracious and not only apologized to the crowd but reassured everyone that he would stay and make sure that everyone had their books signed. The store closed, the lights dimmed and still books were signed. Chris shook our hands and apologized to everyone individually for the delays. It was an honour to meet him and I am very happy to have a signed copy of his book!
Book Review: An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth
“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”