What Astronauts Know … and You Should Too!

My life as “The Phone Lady” is filled with amazing moments and opportunities. One of these arrived as a thank you a few months ago from Lee Babin, CEO of Gingerly.ai. It was a one-year, all-access pass to Masterclass, an online learning platform featuring some of the best minds of our time. (If you haven’t checked it out yet, do so.) I share it with my husband, David, and recently while I was in the kitchen doing dishes, he was listening to Commander Chris Hadfield. And what I heard him say caused me to almost drop the plates!

On Masterclass, Cmdr. Hadfield teaches Space Exploration. I knew that David would enjoy it but it never occurred to me that I would find it fascinating … or that it would be filled with eloquent moments of universal wisdom. Cmdr. Hadfield is a lovely teacher, storyteller and orator.

In Lesson 8, he speaks about the tragedy of the Columbia Space Shuttle Mission, in which he lost a very dear friend, Colonel Rick Husband. He talks about the fact that what happened was, in part, accident and, in part, human error – mistakes. And then he says …

“It’s not something to cause us to stop. Exploration and doing new things is always going to have an increased level of risk.” 

While the work you and I do doesn’t compare to space exploration, every new thing we do, every exploration we take, involves some risk. Are you thinking of launching a new product? If so, you are putting time, effort and funds at risk. But, as Cmdr. Hadfield adds …

“Accept that there are risks … but don’t let that stop you. Instead, make that just part of the process.”

One of the reasons we stop ourselves from exploring and trying new things is we don’t build this into our business plans. We fool ourselves into thinking that only our successes contribute to building our business. In reality, it is our mistakes, our explorations, our risk-taking that allows us to truly thrive.

Cmdr. Hadfield is also a fighter and test pilot, and this training manual is called Bold Face. The dark humour about this section is … it is written in blood. Why? Because these critical things “we learned them almost always because somebody died”.

I’m not suggesting you should be willing to die for the business you are creating but the mistakes you make, the things you try that fail, well, Cmdr. Hadfield’s words are best …

“… you waste the loss if you don’t incorporate it into how you do business in the future.”

Take the risk. Pick up the phone. Send that email or that text. Speak to people you don’t know at conferences and dinners. Give a talk. Share your wisdom. And if it doesn’t work out the way you expected, well, as Cmdr. Hadfield says …

“Grieve, laugh, rejoice, commiserate but still pursue the things that you think are worth pursuing.”

And I’ll be nearby, doing the exact same thing!


4 thoughts on “What Astronauts Know … and You Should Too!”

  1. Mary Jane, as always. my gregarious cousin that always seems to have a pithy thought to share.

    Always a pleasure to read your contributions, tributes and Andrew Carnegie stylings!

  2. Wow. Indeed. You remind me that all the challenges I’ve recently faced, from switching to Mac (and having countless issues, but tiring of calling for help) to experiencing my first earthquake(s) and grappling with keeping my family in California, are risks that we take (small or large) and move on from, out of necessity, of course. But, we do not move forward or thrive without some element of risk. We will survive, but not thrive. Thanks for sharing, Mary Jane.


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What's The Phone Lady doing?


  • Remote learning experiences + one-on-one coaching for women entrepreneurs (More info about this three-year program here.)
  • Team and individual coaching with a national moving company to refine their sales process
  • Remote half-day training for provincial tourism representatives
  • Remote seven-part sales training program for US-based SaaS
  • Remote webinar on accounts receivable communication for industrial-services company
  • Remote webinar on validation to college students in entrepreneur program
  • In-person workshop on job search skills for women in the trades
  • Remote half-day webinar on written correspondence to customers

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