Leadership & strategy in orbit: Insights from Commander Hadfield

I was an earthbound type of kid, I guess. I never wanted to be an astronaut and I never got excited about space travel breakthroughs.

But now I’m following Commander Chris Hadfield, the Canadian astronaut on the International Space Station, currently orbiting Earth every 93 minutes or so, and I’m a massive enthusiast. He’s been posting some amazing photos with commentary, in which I’m surprised to find food for thought on leadership, analysis, and strategy. So I thought I’d share three ideas that have struck me from his astounding images.

IDEA #1 is in many ways the most profound, maybe because it’s so simple. Any place he posts about, he talks about “us.” Never “them.”

Karachi, Pakistan. More than 20 million of us live in this thriving delta city.

The Pearl River delta is home to 65-120 *million* of us, depending on seasonal work. The logistics overwhelm.

Couldn’t we all go through our language and weed out “them” and “they” references which might be distancing or exoticizing our employees, team members, co-workers, clients, suppliers, funders, regulators, partners, collaborators? If we aren’t saying “us,” what does that say about how we perceive our relationships with them? Is that accurate? Is that what we would wish for?

IDEA #2 is about reframing. When I’m doing strategic work with clients, grappling with the future of their industry or company or organization, we often need to reframe. We have to step back and look at things from a much greater distance, to get a sense of perspective. This is usually done through research, analytics, and reflection exercises, which get at many of the same kinds of insights as I see in these photos. Commander Hadfield has shown us how:

And IDEA #3 is simply his ability to create a sense of community and intimacy despite being one of the most-traveled (and currently most-distant) humans ever. It seems to be about keeping things on a human scale, from a human context.

If he can do it from space, why is it hard for us to do it from the office down the hall, or the next office tower over, or around a boardroom table?


You can follow him yourself on Twitter, but I find his tumblr has a better photo display for full visual impact. I hope you enjoy the new perspective on this place where, as the song says, lives “everybody anybody ever knew.”

Get in touch if you would like to talk about how we can help you get a new strategic perspective.

Contact us at meredith@meredithlow.com or call 416-737-3935 to discuss how we might be able to help.


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