“Decide in your heart of hearts what really excites and challenges you, and start moving your life in that direction. Every decision you make, from what you eat to what you do with your time tonight, turns you into who you are tomorrow, and the day after that. Look at who you want to be, and start sculpting yourself into that person. You may not get exactly where you thought you’d be, but you will be doing things that suit you in a profession you believe in. Don’t let life randomly kick you into the adult you don’t want to become.”
– Chris Hadfield
I met Chris Hadfield for a brief moment.
It was December 3rd, 2013 on a rather warm winter day where I stood in line for an hour and a half at the double doors of Hagey Hall at the University of Waterloo to get my book signed. First time for everything.
I met a 14 year old kid who was making a documentary for TIFF on global warming and wanted to get an interview with the Rocket Man. He rekindled my faith in humanity.
Not 15 minutes into waiting, an event manager walks out of the building and announces that no pictures were allowed. There were too many people waiting and they needed to cut down on time.
The kid and I both looked at each other and said, “I’m getting that picture.”
Hour and a half later, we reach the table with Chris Hadfield. I never knew someone could emit so much confidence and poise just sitting in a chair. I handed him my book and shook his hand. He was a lot bigger in person than those YouTube videos made him out to be, his hand twice the size of mine. Perhaps it was the anti-gravity and lack of skeletal compression in space. I must be short because I’m subject to the perils of Earths gravity, but I digress. As his sharpie inked the page with his rocket shaped signature, I asked him for a picture.
“Don’t ask, just do it.” He said, with a smile.
I’ve always been fascinated with space, the universe, and all it’s mysteries.
This book is more than just about space. It’s a philosophical take on life from the perspective of a man who has lived there for many months, and has looked down on our planet from a wide angle perspective and referred to the whole of ourselves on Earth as “them”.
Col. Chris Hadfield talks about his journey from childhood wanting to become an astronaut, from the time he saw the moon landing on television. He talks about his mishaps, uncertainties, and struggles as a Canadian Astronaut getting into space. He also talks about preparation, launch, and the spectacular view. It’s a wonderful story, especially the one about his blind spacewalk, but there is one thing I’d like to highlight that stands out to me above all the rest.
It’s Chris’s concept of “Aim for a Zero”.
“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 guarantees you’ll be perceived as a minus one, regardless of the skills you bring to the table or how you actually perform.”
– Chris Hadfield
This -1, 0, +1 concept is so simple and is truly a universal concept you can apply anywhere. Whether you’re learning at a job, piloting a Soyuz, or playing intramural sports. No one likes a showoff, especially a showoff that makes things worse.
In any situation, you are either a minus-one, zero, or plus-one. Aim to be a zero in all situations, and show your plus-one status when it’s needed. If you’re acting as a plus-one all the time, it can be seen as a nuisance and gives you minus-one status. We know personal examples of all of these people.
Do your part, help the team, pick up your slack, shine when you need too, and try not to cause any problems.
“I wasn’t lonely. Loneliness, I think, has very little to do with location. It’s a state of mind. In the centre of every city are some of the loneliest people in the world. If anything, because our whole planet was just outside the window, I felt even more aware of and connected to the seven billion other people who call it home.”
– Chris Hadfield
- Zen Pencils Comic Strip
- Music: I.S.S. with Barenaked Ladies
- Chris on Joe Rogan’s Podcast (1 hour)
- Chris Hadfield’s YouTube Channel
- Chris on CSA’s YouTube Channel (way more weightlessness)