How to Deal With Unexpected Problems Like a NASA Astronaut

When it comes to making decisions, nothing is more important than making the right thing than being in space. When you travel over Earth, a bad decision can have some pretty serious consequences.

Gene Krantz, director of the Apollo 13 mission, is often associated with the phrase “failure is not an option.” Fast Company says its approach to problems is how they work, so you don’t “make things worse by guessing.”

When faced with a problem, Krantz recommends taking the following steps to find a solution, rather than acting intuitively, which often makes the situation worse:

  1. Define the problem
  2. Define goals / objectives
  3. Generate many alternative solutions
  4. Assess the possible consequences of each decision
  5. Use this analysis to select one or more courses of action.
  6. Plan implementation
  7. Implement with full dedication
  8. Adapt as needed based on incoming data

This sounds like a pretty daunting set of steps to go through, but to be honest, it’s not much different from the way I am currently solving my own problems. This strategy works for a lot of different problems, not just the ones you face when in a spaceship.

When you calmly articulate your options and realistically consider how each will develop, you are much more likely to make the right decision.

If you walk with your instinct and walk the path without thinking about it, then you may (and often does) find yourself in a situation where your plan for some reason does not work, and you make another intuitive decision at the last minute, which increases your problem even more.

Slow down, think through the options, and then go for the solution.


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