Chris Hadfield’s Guide to Life on Earth

An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth: What Going to Space Taught Me About Ingenuity, Determination, and Being Prepared for Anything by Chris Hadfield

Chris Hadfield is a Canadian icon. He is the face of the space program for quite a lot of people and the first name that often comes up when you think of an astronaut.

Here are a few of my favourite parts from his memoir.

“Over the years, I’ve realized that 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 always guarantees you’ll be perceived as a minus one, regardless of the skills you bring to the table or how you actually perform. This might seem self-evident, but it can’t be, because so many people do it.”

Hadfield actively works towards being a zero, and in so doing, he is often able to show that he is actually a plus one.

“If you’re really observing and trying to learn rather than seeking to impress, you may actually get the chance to do something useful.”

He tells some great stories about his career in this book and all of the wonderful things he was able to do. He also shares how he was able to get a fresh perspective on Earth.

“Space travel has . . . made me feel I have a personal obligation to be a good steward of our planet and to educate others about what’s happening to it. . .

You can also see that Earth is a durable, absorbent, self-correcting, life-supporting place that has its own problems . . . But we make matters infinitely worse through poor stewardship. We need to take a longer-term view of the environment and try to make things better whenever we can.”

That’s really cool. He has remained a down-to-earth person despite all of his extraordinary accomplishments. He’s become a celebrity too and a role model we can all look up to.

My List of 2019 reads