An Outlier Astronaut’s Guide to Life

Yosef Ardhito
3 min readJun 1, 2016


I have just finished reading two books, and they both try to tell the same thing.

The first one is Outliers by Malcolm Galdwell. Well-known book, I saw it in many of people’s must read. And the same goes for me, I would surely recommend this book to mind wanderer out there.

The other book seems less known, but by no mean is less meaningful. I even bought this book on a Big Bad Wolf event, a hard cover book by Chris Hadfield priced $5 is a no-brainer for me. An Astronaut Guide to Life on Earth contain a handful life lessons. Although taste more like an autobiography than a self-help book, this book surely will help you understand more about life as well.

I read Outliers prior to Astronaut Guide and I have no idea that they both will feel connected. My biggest take-away from Outliers, and also the one I have been mentioning and sharing to my friends, is:

Work hard, the rest is luck.

Outliers will explain to you why certain type of condition and system boost your chance to be exceptionally successful. How being born in early month (January, February, March) will give you more chance to be included in a sport team. Why almost 50% of all-time richest person in America born in a span of 1 decade, and it has to be that decade. And in a certain period of time, being a Jew lawyer was almost guarantee great career.

Those are factors we cannot fully control.

But then, you also need to work hard. This one is under our control. You can have every luck in the world, and they will only present you opportunities. Whether we are ready or not, that depends on our preparation. The Beatles is one example given in the book. They were given the unlikely opportunity to play for hours in a decent bar, and they practiced a lot.

The exact same point came in every chapter of Chris Hadfield’s story.

Work hard, the rest is luck.

To be an astronaut is hard already, it is even harder to actually go to space. You can spend all your life getting ready, but there will be no assurance of space-walking. While reading this book, I sensed this funny feeling that Chris, looking on his circumstances, has no expectation whatsoever that he would go to space. However, he did make sure that he work harder than other candidates.

Going to space is not solely depends on your hardwork. How much contribution your country made for NASA is also determine your chance. This is the luck factor. Being a Canadian, relative to US Citizen, the chance is tiny. But the opportunity came when Canada introduce a mechanical arm called Canadarm2 to be installed on ISS, and Chris was the one appointed.

You will read a lot of similar coincidental events that happened to him. From accidentally saw an astronaut slot opening in newspaper, getting injured but still can go to space, and how he survived from many accidents while working in ISS.

Work hard, the rest is luck.

Yes you can work really really hard, but do not go hard on yourself when you are not exceptionally successful. Keep being prepared and do the best when opportunity present itself. Sometimes we do not get what we want, but we surely get what we deserve.

There are factors beyond our control, be grateful with whatever your hard-work result.