I heard a talk recently by Capt. Mark Kelly, a NASA astronaut who piloted the Endeavor. Kelly was candid and inspiring through his lecture. He said that as a boy, he had always wanted to be the first person on Mars. That wish started his dream of becoming an astronaut.
Interestingly, Kelly stated that he didn't do that well on his first test flight. In fact, he did poorly. But he went on to become a highly skilled pilot and astronaut. He described taking off in a spacecraft as "like the hand of God ripping you off the planet...you go from zero to 17,000 mph in 8.5 minutes.
He also cautioned against following the lead of the group and said that sometimes group decisions are totally wrong. "None of us is as dumb as all of us," he explained. "A team of people can make a horrible decision," he went on to say. Speak your opinion even if it goes against the group.
Several years ago, Mark became the primary caregiver for his wife, Gabby Giffords, when she was shot in the head in Phoenix. He explained how she had to have several head surgeries, one in which a chunk of her skull was removed and replaced with titanium. Today, she is busy with her physical and occupational therapies. She is determined and brave.
Mark told the audience about a funny incident that happened several days ago. "We were having breakfast," he explained, "when I started complaining about how my arm hurt from surgery. My lovely wife looked up from her yogurt and said, 'are you freaking kidding me?" He closed by saying, "Gabby does not give up. Her advice to you is to be passionate and courageous."