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What on earth can an astronaut teach us about leading?

Astronaut Chris Hadfield

Astronaut Chris Hadfield

Commander Chris Hadfield, one of the most well known astronauts of the 21st century, has inspired a new generation to consider a life in space exploration by sharing his exploits in space. Even more impressive is the fact that he has inspired many people to think about the life they are leading right here on planet earth.

When Hadfield came to Saint John a few months ago I jumped at the opportunity to hear him speak. I enjoyed his ability to simplify concepts and share the lessons he learned in a way that makes sense for us non-astronaut folks.

When my cohost, Greg Hemmings, and I had the unexpected opportunity to interview Hadfield in the Boiling Point Podcast booth recently we were over the moon.

Within the first few moments of our interview, it became very clear that interacting with people here on earth comes naturally to Hadfield – part of his gift of humility.

He actually came into the conversation at a collegial level – he was very present and engaged, had a unique perspective and was willing to share it with us. What I was most impressed with was how humble, sincere and authentic he was.

Hadfield has been to space three times since 1995.  He has visited the Russian space station Mir, has walked in space, helped install the Canadarm2 and he was the first ever Canadian to command the International Space Station.  In his most recent expedition, he posted pictures to social media, took interviews from space and made an incredibly popular YouTube video, Space Oddity, with the help of his son and a previous Boiling Point guest Andrew Tidby .  This was all being done while performing dozens of scientific experiments.

Chris Hadfield is an impressive person, but what is more impressive to me is that he’s not hiding behind his accolades. It’s the impression I got from Hadfield when he spoke to thousands of people in his Saint John presentation and it is the same impression I got when he spoke with Greg and I in the Boiling Point podcast booth. For me, it is uber inspiring when both the messenger and the message are completely aligned.

[Tweet “It is uber inspiring when the messenger and the message are completely aligned. – Dave Veale”]

When I asked my Boiling Point podcast cohost what he thought of Hadfield he said, “He’s a hero – he’s my hero – because he’s a true Canadian commander who worked against all odds and pushed himself to actually get into space.”

Incidentally, while Hadfield was on the International Space Station, Greg was following its course and running outside his home to watch it go by at night. “It’s very surreal to interact with someone of his legendary status and have him come down to the human level and have a real conversation”, said Greg about our close encounter with Hadfield.

In his book An Astronauts Guide to Life on Earth, written when Hadfield returned to earth, he shares pearls of wisdom that can apply to literally everyone. It is a great read – Greg and I both highly recommend it!

And take a few minutes, if you haven’t already, to listen to our podcast with Col. Chris Hadfield.

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