Recently, I had the opportunity to see “The Martian,” starring Matt Damon. The movie focused on the character of Mark Watney, an astronaut who was deserted on Mars. Following a severe wind storm, Watney was left behind to survive on this unknown foreign planet.
The other astronauts were able to escape. Watney was suddenly left alone on a harsh planet having to figure out how to survive on this cold and unforgiving land. For Watney to survive, adequate food, water, safe lodging, and a means to communicate back to Earth would have to be resolved.
In this dramatic adventure, Watney was able to creatively figure out how to grow crops on this hostile planet. In addition, he was also able to figure out how to take a low fueled vehicle and drive it over 3,200 kilometers to a rescue station. Finally, Watney creatively used his ingenuity to find a way to propel to a relay station several hundred miles above Mars.
Throughout these tension-filled scenes, Watney used wit, problem-solving skills, creativity, and logic to come up with solutions that did not appear possible. Most importantly, though, Watney exhibited a confident, and at times cocky “attitude” to deliver answers to unresolvable problems.
Internally, Watney appeared to be scared and confused on how he would resolve life-threatening problems. Yet on the surface, the observer would not know it. Watney was cool, calm, and confident, displaying a self-assured attitude that he would win this game no matter what the odds. Although millions away from Earth, Watney looked like a quarterback going into the fourth quarter being 14 points down. No matter how unlikely, he was going to win this game.
In many ways, the movie resembled what it must be like for prisoners getting out of jail and trying to figure out how to readjust to their new “Mars.” After leaving the iron bar premises of jail, where do you find a place to stay? Moreover, where can you obtain food…legally…to eat? Furthermore, how do you find work in an environment where no one wants to hire you? This task gets even more complicated given the fact that the Internet can pull up information readily on anyone very quickly.
Being thrown onto this new “foreign planet,” the prisoner might find himself becoming increasingly more frustrated and angry. Furthermore, any confidence can quickly erode. Fear, anger, doubt, confusion, anxiety, and uncertainty can leave one depleted of finding any potential solutions.
However, if Mark Watney could realistically develop solutions (by the way, the solutions do appear reasonable throughout the film) to survive on Mars, I wonder if the released prisoner could perform just as well.
In order for this result to occur, two characteristic traits will be “absolute musts.” First, you are going to need to be extremely humble. You are going to need to look at the bare essential problems just as they are and accept them. You might be hungry and have a strong desire to acquire food illegally. You can’t do that. How are you going to eat? You might be lying out in the freezing cold with no gloves, hats, or boots. You might feel like breaking into someone’s home. But you can’t do that. Where are you going to stay? You might not have any money or finances to purchase life’s essential needs. You might think of creative ways to illegally obtain cash. But, you can’t do that. Where are you going to find employment?
With humility, you look at each of these problems, as despairingly as they appear, right square in the eye. You don’t flinch. You don’t wince. You don’t blink. You acknowledge them. You face them. You courageously focus on each of them. You don’t allow your frustration, anger, and vulnerability to take over.
Second, and this is the real punch….you must demonstrate a bold “attitude” that you can, will, and must find solutions to beat the odds in order to prove the world wrong. You will face the rejections while you search for the appropriate people to help get you out of your current mess. You will use persistence to look for work after hearing many “nos.” You will endure being hungry and thirsty and use that unpleasant energy to push yourself to a greater lifestyle.
Then after you acquire those answers and follow through on them, you will celebrate your victories. Following the short festivities, you acknowledge that there will be further problems that you will relentlessly fight to win.
Humility and “attitude”… you will need them both to make it in your new world.
“The Martian” ended with Watney teaching a young group of astronauts those traits they will need in order to survive space. Interestingly those inner qualities are those just discussed, courageous humility and an arrogant, cocky “attitude.” Space is cold, distant, and detached but it will not defeat you if you tenaciously fight for solutions.
In a similar way, you must boldly act with conviction and enter your new “Mars” with a spirt to win. In this new foreign land inherent with pain and uncertainty, you can, will, and must beat the odds in order to survive.
Are you up for the task?