Retired Navy Capt. Scott Kelly, who has spent more time in space than any other American, sat down briefly with Hawaii Business Editor Steve Petranik after Kelly’s keynote speech to the annual Leadership Conference. His comments have been lightly edited.
Hawaii Business: What did you tell yourself to keep going during the most difficult times in space?
Kelly: Just keep doing the work and doing the best job I could. But also pacing myself because I knew being up there for a year was going to be a long time. I’ve seen people struggle on the space station – especially those who are a super Type A personality where everything has to be perfect all the time. That’s hard to do for a really long time. Instead, know when to rise to the occasion and when you can take things not as seriously – that’s a critically important skill.
Hawaii Business: You had a partner who you didn’t pick for 340 days in space. Most of us are in that situation, we’re in a team and we didn’t create that team. How did you resolve problems with your partner when there was no one else around.
Kelly: I think being a good leader or even a teammate is understanding the people you’re working with, understanding what they’re good at, what they’re not good at and helping them to improve – and letting them help you do things better.
Hawaii Business: Was your diet in space boring?
Kelly: What I missed more than the food was the experience of just sitting at a table and relaxing. When you’re in space, whether you’re floating around doing an experiment, looking out the window, watching TV, sleeping or whatever, it’s not very relaxing. When you’re eating you can’t put anything down. You’re always velcroing stuff or your spoons float away.
Hawaii Business: Did you get beer?
Kelly: No. (Laughs)