A NASA astronaut's guide to facing failure

In this podcast (episode #557) and blog, I talk to NASA astronaut, Columbia professor, speaker, podcast host and bestselling author Dr. Mike Massimino about not accepting failure, the power of passion and grit, committing to your dreams, and so much more! 

While he is known as an astronaut, the first person to tweet from space, a recurring character on The Big Bang Theory, and now a New York Times bestselling author, Mike grew up a working class kid whose seemingly unreachable dream of becoming an astronaut and flying in space was realized in an unlikely journey that was driven by determination and commitment and accomplished with hard work and humor. After two missions to the Hubble Telescope and four space walks to make critical repairs to the telescope, Mike became the Senior Adviser for Space Programs at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, a Columbia University professor, an author, a television host, a frequent guest on morning shows, news programs, talk shows, and late-night television, and an in-demand speaker for audiences seeking a unique perspective on teamwork, innovation, and leadership from a down-to-earth spaceman.

As Mike notes, the more we learn about the universe, the more we learn about ourselves, our planet, and the gift it is to be alive and experience the world around us. In fact, more and more of us should take more time to stop what we are doing and look around: this is an incredible place, full of wonder! 

Another important lesson Mike learned from his time at NASA as an astronaut was the importance of being part of a team with a shared mission who had to live together and take care of each other. In space, you cannot be successful unless you work together, which is also a powerful reminder of the need for community we all share as human beings. It is not weak to need others—it is an intrinsic part of our ability to not only survive but also thrive.  

Mike discusses his experiences and the lessons he has learned in his incredible new book Moonshot. His goal in writing this book was to help people understand that they too can achieve their personal “moonshots”, both their small and big dreams, with grit, determination, teamwork and vision, regardless of how far away their goals may seem. As Mike notes in the book, “One in a million is not zero.  

On the other hand, if you give up or don’t try, the probability of succeeding is zero. The odds may be against you, but you should go for it anyway—you never know where life may take you. Even if it doesn’t work out the way you expect, the journey will teach you a lot about yourself, and you will end up in a better place than if you had just given up!

Of course, as Mike notes, “You’re going to make mistakes. Learn how to deal with them.” The road to achieving your goals and dreams will not be smooth or easy, and you will fail at times. You can’t dwell on your mistakes—you have to learn from them, or they can cripple you and stop your journey. Indeed, if you drown in your misery, you are more likely to make more mistakes. However, if you learn how to deal with a mistake, you can move on. Give yourself 30 seconds or so to regret what happened, which Mike calls the “30-second rule”, then move on. Don’t let yourself get stuck in the past! Don’t keep it in or suppress your feelings, but do not let them control you and how your future plays out.  

Part of this means accepting that change happens. Learning how to accept and embrace these changes is key to thriving in life. You cannot stay in the same spot, or you will not learn or grown as a human being. This is true for all aspects of life—change is inevitable, both personally and professionally.  

For more on achieving your dreams and moving on after failure, listen to my podcast with Mike (episode #557) and check out his incredible work. If you enjoy listening to my podcast, please consider leaving a 5-star review and subscribing. And keep sharing episodes with friends and family and on social media. (Don’t forget to tag me so I can see your posts!).    

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Podcast Highlights

2:00 Dr. Mike’s incredible story  

16:30 The amazing world we live in

24:15 Dr. Mike’s work as a professor 

30:10 The importance of community

41:40 Dr. Mike’s new book Moonshot 

43:00 One in a million odds is not zero! 

47:35 The 30-second rule 

51:47 The power of wonder 

59:00 The importance of knowing when to pivot 

Switch On Your Brain LLC. is providing this podcast as a public service. Reference to any specific viewpoint or entity does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation by our organization. The views expressed by guests are their own and their appearance on the program does not imply an endorsement of them or any entity they represent. If you have any questions about this disclaimer, please contact info@drleaf.com.     

This podcast and blog are for educational purposes only and are not intended as medical advice. We always encourage each person to make the decision that seems best for their situation with the guidance of a medical professional.

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