Review of An Astronaut’s Guide To Life On Earth by Chris Hadfield
Although this book has been out since 2013 I only just read it.
I am always looking for a story that is motivational, not because it tells me what I want to hear but because it’s real. An Astronaut’s Guide To Life On Earth is about perseverance but also to remember your family and friends, even when you’re out in space.
By talking about the lessons he learned to become an astronaut Chris Hadfield makes it clear his wife Helene played a major role in his success. Helene encouraged him but also grounded him, reminding him of the sacrifices she and their family made, and reminding him to include them. Throughout the book Chris shows his mistakes, his successes and the absolute importance of being a team player, whether as leader or co-pilot.
One of his major points is being a square trying to fit into a round hole. His approach to becoming an astronaut was to become an Air Force pilot and mechanical engineer all the while knowing it would be next to impossible to go into space. What I enjoyed throughout the book was that he constantly learned and went on the basis of that if the square can’t get through the circle, that he doesn’t become an astronaut, he has his pilot and engineering skills to fall back on. He didn’t put all his eggs into one basket.
He talks about sweating the small stuff. He points out that as an astronaut, if you don’t sweat the small stuff (haven’t prepared by going over all the finer details) you could kill yourself and your crew mates.
Encouraging others and being encouraged is a theme he mentions continuously. He talks about the importance of “investing in other people’s success doesn’t just make them more likely to enjoy working with me. It also improves my own chances of survival and success.”
He makes it clear how important team work is “No astronaut, no matter how brilliant or brave, is a solo act. Our expertise is the result of the training provided by thousands of experts around the world, and the support provided by thousands of technicians in five different space agencies.”
Singing David Bowie’s Space Oddity on the International Space Station was his son Evan’s idea. An idea that has a lot of children now interested in space. As Chris Hadfield mentions in his book, spaceflight isn’t just about looking away from the Earth but at it. Satellites allow for communication, the ability to study weather and pollution patterns. To find things that might not otherwise be able to be found such as planes that need to make emergency landings or boats lost at sea.
In conclusion this is a fantastic book. I have not added page numbers to the quotes I used because I want you to read the book yourself.