Lessons Learned from 500+ Days in Space, Life-Changing Books, and The Art of Making Hard Choices | Scott Kelly on The Tim Ferriss Show

 Check out The Tim Ferriss Show Episode Page & Show Notes

Key Takeaways

  • Telling kids they need to do better won’t motivate them. They need a goal and a purpose that will set them straight. For Kelly, once he decided he wanted to be an astronaut, he started taking school a lot more seriously: 
    • “There has to be that thing, that inspiration, that spark, that just provides inspiration to get people moving in the right direction. And that’s what Tom Wolfe’s The Right Stuff was for me.” – Scott Kelly
  • An important life lesson from Scott:
    • “How good we are when we start something is not related at all to how good we can become at anything” – Scott Kelly
  • You’re going to experience failure on the road to success, it happens to everyone:
    • “Failure is an option…It’s something that we all probably experience and, hopefully, we learn from it and move forward.” – Scott Kelly
  • The most successful people tend to be the ones that push themselves and fail often:
    • “I always feel like if we’re not always moving that bar higher and risking failure, then we’re not really reaching our potential…The people that are really successful are the people that are willing to take the risk of failing.”Scott Kelly
  • Going to Mars would be expensive, but NASA is a great investment. They provide high paying jobs to scientists and create new technologies that can be used in other industries.
    • “NASA is a moneymaking prospect in that it generates more tax dollars than it uses. A mission to Mars would be the same thing. A mission to Mars would develop technologies that we may not have today.”Scott Kelly
  • A message to everyone: The Earth is NOT flat
    • “If the Earth was flat, wouldn’t the edge be the most popular tourist attraction on Earth? I would just go set up a taco truck and make a billion dollars with my edge-of-the-Earth tacos.” – Scott Kelly 

Intro

  • Scott Kelly (@StationCDRKelly) is a former military fighter pilot and test pilot, an engineer, a retired astronaut, and a retired US Navy captain.  
  • Host: Tim Ferriss (@tferriss)

Books Mentioned

Inspiration From His Mother

  • As a kid, Scott was inspired by watching his mom set a goal of joining the police force and how she worked hard to get in shape to pass the fitness requirement. 
    • “It was the first time in my life that I saw the power of having this goal you think you might not be able to achieve, a plan to get there and then working really, really hard at something.” – Scott Kelly
      • Scott’s mom became the very first female police officer in his hometown and one of the first in the entire state

Finding His Purpose & Getting Focused

  • Scott struggled with schooling throughout his life and spent a lot of time staring out the window or daydreaming
    • “ I think I probably have ADD or ADHD never diagnosed” – Scott Kelly
  • One day in college, Scott stumbled into a bookstore to buy gum, but a book caught his eye and he spent the next few days reading it
    • The book was The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe
      • “And something in that book just really sparked my imagination.” – Scott Kelly
  • Telling kids they need to do better won’t motivate them. They need a goal and a purpose that will set them straight. For Kelly, once he decided he wanted to be an astronaut, he started taking school a lot more seriously: 
    • “There has to be that thing, that inspiration, that spark, that just provides inspiration to get people moving in the right direction. And that’s what Tom Wolfe’s The Right Stuff was for me.” – Scott Kelly
  • An important life lesson from Scott:
    • “How good we are when we start something is not related at all to how good we can become at anything” – Scott Kelly
  • If you’re not naturally smart or talented, like Scott, you can make up for it with hard work: 
    • “I always felt like I needed to work harder than other people because maybe I didn’t have as much natural smarts or talent or ability.”– Scott Kelly
      • For instance, instead of going to a frat party one weekend, Scott decided to stay in and use that time to study. He ended up getting a 100 on a calculus test which was one of his hardest subjects. 

Failure Is Part of Success

  • You’re going to experience failure on the road to success, it happens to everyone:
    • “Failure is an option…It’s something that we all probably experience and, hopefully, we learn from it and move forward.” – Scott Kelly
  • If you are given a second chance in life, take it:
    • The first time Scott tried to land an F-14 Tomcat on a ship, his landing gear hit the back of the ship and he was disqualified. Fortunately, he was given a second option to fly a cargo plane.  
  • The most successful people tend to be the ones that push themselves and fail often:
    • “I always feel like if we’re not always moving that bar higher and risking failure, then we’re not really reaching our potential…The people that are really successful are the people that are willing to take the risk of failing.”Scott Kelly
  • “So, to put yourself out there, to expose yourself to failure, I think is something that everyone should strive for because if they don’t, they’re never going to be able to see what they could possibly achieve.” – Scott Kelly

Life-Changing Books

  • Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing
    • This book is about a crew that voyages to the Antarctic and shares great examples of leadership
      • The ship ended up getting stuck in the ice but because of the captain’s leadership, everyone survived  
  • The Old Man and The Sea by Ernest Hemingway
    • Scott is a Hemingway fan and this is one of his favorite books
  • The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck
    • This is also one of Scott’s favorite books and talks about a peasant farmer in China who survived multiple famines and eventually becomes a major landowner

A Message To Flat Earthers

  • A message to everyone: The Earth is NOT flat
    • “If the Earth was flat, wouldn’t the edge be the most popular tourist attraction on Earth? I would just go set up a taco truck and make a billion dollars with my edge-of-the-Earth tacos.” – Scott Kelly 
  • When Scott saw that Steph Curry said the Earth was flat, he reached out to him to have a conversation with Steph  
    • “He was very happy to have that conversation and to take back what he said” – Scott Kelly

Going To Mars

  • Going to Mars is more about political science than rocket science
    • There are some scientific issues, such as protecting the crew from radiation and life support systems, but the bigger issue is voting in politicians that believe in the importance of going to Mars
      • “It’s something that we’re absolutely capable of doing” – Scott Kelly
  • People shouldn’t look at going to Mars as humanity’s Plan B. Earth is our home and we need to take care of it.
  • Going to Mars would be expensive, but NASA is a great investment. They provide high paying jobs to scientists and create new technologies that can be used in other industries.
    • “NASA is a moneymaking prospect in that it generates more tax dollars than it uses. A mission to Mars would be the same thing. A mission to Mars would develop technologies that we may not have today.”Scott Kelly
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Notes By Alex Wiec

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