Apollo 11 astronauts share out of this world advice
Today marks 50 years since the most famous space launch of all time.
As a planet, we watched three men sitting in over six million pounds of metal launch into space with the goal of setting foot on the moon. And they succeeded. The mission saw Neil Armstrong become the first man on the moon and say his iconic line: ‘One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.’
His way with words is a gift that all three of the Apollo 11 astronauts seem to share. So let’s take the wisdom of people who have literally been to the moon and back! They’re clearly doing something right.
Michael Collins, Command Module Pilot, Apollo 11
Michael Collins is probably the least-known of the big three because he didn’t actually step on the surface of the moon. Collins was responsible for keeping the craft in orbit as Armstrong and Aldrin took the Lunar Lander down to the Sea of Tranquility.
Although you may think that would make Collins bitter, he always expressed joy and contentment with the role that he played in getting mankind to the moon. Perhaps it was this advice that allowed him to see the bigger picture and embrace gratitude for his role:
“[You] can’t pay attention to what’s behind you. You gotta pay attention to what’s ahead of you.”
Michael Collins said this in an interview earlier this month with Time Magazine as he talked about how vital each individual piece of the mission was.
These are some solid words to live by. Don’t get wrapped up in the things that have already happened; if it hasn’t derailed your life entirely, you’re best off just moving forward and onto the next thing.
Buzz Aldrin, Lunar Module Pilot, Apollo 11
Buzz Aldrin, who piloted the Lunar Excursion Module (LEM), was the second man to walk on the moon, but would be the first person to tell you that was the way he liked it. His name is familiar to most not just through his own celebrity, but also through the allusion that Toy Story writers made with the iconic character ‘Buzz Lightyear.’
Buzz Aldrin has always been a highly intelligent man, vocal with his opinions and never one to pull a verbal punch, so the advice he gives in his book No Dream Is Too High: Life Lessons From a Man Who Walked on the Moon, may seem surprisingly gentle. However, Buzz Aldrin is best known for his interest and excitement in encouraging interest in and development of progress. In that light, the next piece of advice makes perfect sense.
“Failure is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign that you are alive and growing.”
Like Collins, Aldrin shows that astronauts are forward thinking types and resilient to boot. An important lesson to learn, failure is part of life and growth. This, in particular, can be applied to everything from learning new skills to building websites. Failure is the first step toward making progress.
Neil Armstrong, Commander, Apollo 11
And last but, decidedly, not least: Neil Armstrong. The first man to walk on the moon and a symbol of hope and inspiration for generations of science and exploration-minded children, Neil Armstrong was not one to bask in his status as a celebrity. Upon landing, he retreated into normal life, living exactly as he pleased.
Despite never wanting to step into the limelight, by the virtue of being Commander of the Apollo 11 mission and the first man to step on an extraterrestrial surface, Armstrong continued to be a celebrated figure and has had books written about him and given speeches. During a 2005 speech at the University of South Carolina, Armstrong discussed the nature of what you can and cannot change. He said:
“What are not easily stolen from you without your cooperation are your principles and your values. They are your most important possessions and, if carefully selected and nurtured, will well serve you and your fellow man. Society’s future will depend on a continuous improvement program for the human character.”
Neil Armstrong’s powerful advice cuts to the heart of things with an appeal to all human beings to continue developing their character and strengthening their values. Armstrong, arguably the most famous astronaut of all time, wants you to be the absolute best you that you can be.
Apollo 11 as a Whole
The words of Collins, Aldrin and Armstrong seem to sit well together and tie up in a simple trajectory that propels an ideal for what you need to get the most out of life.
Don’t look back. Even failure is growth. And stick to your guns.
So let’s take this opportunity to live like astronauts and keep moving forward. Keep Growing.