Lessons from an Astronaut!

I rarely get a chance to read book. Except that is when on holiday. I have been away this week – in the depths of Cornwall.


The downtime gave me a chance to read on of my Christmas books (!). Chris Hadfield – An Astronaut’s Guide To Life. It took me just three sittings!

The book is great – and some of the lessons he learned on his way to the toughest job in the world were really inspiring. But my favourite in the book follows and incident in an elevator where an old astronaut really thought it was beyond him to press the button!

Hadfield suggests that in a new situation there are three types of people. A Minus-one: actively harmful and creates problems. A Zero: you’re neutral and doesn’t tip the balance. Or a Plus-One: someone who actively adds value.

So that’s easy – we all know we should be a Plus-One. But therein lies the issue. If you proclaim yourself as a Plus-One you are automatically perceived as the opposite – a Negative-One! Hadfield notes that it is other people who have to decide you are a Plus-One by your actions being noted not shouted at them.

His example about how selection processes takes place was so similar to an actual interview I did recently. Recruiting for a new manager at the squash club we interviewed a handful of people. One of the candidates got lost on the way to the club (not an issue – it’s not the easiest place to get to!). But when the candidate yelled at the person on the end of a ‘phone who was trying to help him – little did he know that they were part of the wider panel we sought views on later… It’s a fail then.

As Hadfield later says, “When you have some skills but don’t underestimate your environment – there is no way you can be a Plus-One. The best you could be is a Zero. And that is no bad thing”. Wise words.

By Tim GARRATT Posted in Business, Nottingham Tagged Astronaut, Chris HAdfield, lessons, Minus-One, Plus-One, Spaceman, Zero

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