A Lesson from Mars

A Lesson from Mars

The Martian is a recent favorite book and movie of mine. I like syfy in general (thanks mom!) and the storyline of this one had me from the start. In the movie, Matt Damon played the main character that had been stranded on Mars when he was injured and the rest of his crew had to leave, assuming him dead. He survived and (beware of spoiler) he finally got to come home.

After he got back, he was involved in training new astronauts and the final scene is one that has really stuck with me and been on my mind lately. Here is what he tells the new recruits regarding how he survived. He was talking about the reality of fear and the knowledge that he very likely would die on Mars. He says:

You can either accept that or you can get to work. That’s all it is. You just begin. You do the math. You solve one problem and you solve the next one and then the next. And if you solve enough problems, you get to come home.

There are many themes in there but there are two that I preach to myself, my family and friends, and to my clients. Though I’ve addressed both themes many times in my blogs, I think they cannot be over stated. The first is staying in the moment. From the vantage points of life tragedies, stresses, and trials, the future can look very grim. For many people the possible and even likely bad outcomes freeze them up and make them dysfunctional in the present. I know it’s hard but your task is ALWAYS the same. Solve the next problem; the one that is right here and right now even if you can’t see how it might be connected to the hoped for outcome.

The second theme is simplest to say and hardest to do. Persevere. Just keep moving forward. Solve the next problem and then the next one and then the next one. No, I’m not so deep with my head in the sand as to suggest that the Martian always gets to come home or the cancer goes away or the finances get all better or the marriage becomes wonderful or the kids figure it all out. I know that is not always the case but please understand that either way, your best chance at getting to “come home” remains the same. Solve what is right in front of you and then do the same thing again and again.