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An astronaut’s take on high-performing teams

Average Reading Time: 2 minutes

In December 2018 I was fortunate enough to be in the incredible company of Chris Hadfield, one of the most seasoned and accomplished astronauts in the world.


What follows are six key lessons that we can all apply to take the teams and organisations that we lead from good, to great, and beyond.


  1. Be relentlessly willing to fail. We all know that failure and innovation go hand in hand, right? We’ve all heard phrases such as “launch early and fail quickly”, but it’s the relentless willingness to fail that actually creates the environment for spectacular success.


“Lucky success doesn’t teach you anything. Early, safe failure teaches you everything.”


  1. Visualise failure. Astronauts don’t visualise success, they visualise and plan for failure. They are constantly identifying the next thing that could go wrong and planning for that scenario.


“Success is determined by what you do in the quiet times to prepare for when things go wrong.”


  1. Deliberate and relentless personal development. There it is again, the word relentless. To become a true high-performer, within a high-performing team, you must develop a healthy dissatisfaction with our current level of performance.


“The skills that you’ve gained to this point in your life, are not enough for success in the rest of your life.”


  1. Know what success looks like. It is critical that the team has a shared vision of what success looks like. Your team will always find themselves having to make individual decisions under pressure. It is therefore critical that they are making individual decisions towards the same goal, and the same success criteria.


“Life is the sum total of all the little things that we do next.”


  1. Set big goals. Give people a challenge that is large enough to ensure that they rise above their personal differences and work effectively towards a common goal.


“Impossible things happen. Aim for impossible things.”


  1. Laugh and Cry. Becoming a high-performing team and achieving great results is hard work, so it’s essential that we enjoy the process and the journey. The NASA psychiatrists placed a guitar on the International Space Station because they know that art is critical for our mental health. It also allowed Chris Hadfield to record this amazing video.


“Astronauts laugh and cry more than ever in space as the emotions are so close to the surface.”


There’s just one question that remains… what are you going to do next to get your team ready for lift off?

Drop me a line at and let’s start the conversation about how I can help get your team ready for their next mission

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