13.6.22

Critical Life Skills for Astronuats for Your Agribusiness Success

rich mango fruit harvest takes teamwork
NASA has shared skills that astronauts use to successfully accomplish tasks together while in space - skills that are also very relevant for life on earth. NASA prepares the astronauts on the objectives of the mission at hand and the experiences they are bound to share together, training astronauts in expeditionary skills: selfcare/teamcare, cultural competency, leadership/followership, and teamwork. 

If these life skills work for astronauts, they are also bound to work towards the success of your agribusiness, especially when you become particularly aware and deliberately put them into practice in your own environment. For instance, when you choose to practice teamwork, you let the best ideas and suggestions within the team to form the course of action, even when those ideas come from somebody else apart from the leader.

1. Self-care/teamcare

Key points:

  • Astronauts use technical skills in their missions but also rely on interpersonal skills like collaboration, responsibility, and flexibility. The goal is to help you gain abilities you can apply in your life.
  • Self-care is how healthy you are mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. It includes taking care of your body, taking care of you belongings, being on time, getting enough sleep and your mood. 
  • Exercising good self-care means you pay attention to yourself and make healthy decisions, so you can be ready for normal and unexpected situations. 
  • And never under-estimate the power of a positive attitude. Believe in something bigger than yourself: singing and humour are great to have in your self-care toolbox.

Teamcare key points:

  • Teamcare is how well the heads, hearts and hands of your teammates are working together. 
  • Being good at teamcare means you monitor your teammates for signs of stress, fatigue or sickness and take steps to actively manage and support the health and readiness of your team.
  • Both self-care and teamcare rely on good communication. And the stronger the relationship, the stronger the communication. That's why astronauts spend alot of time working together and get to know each other before they get to fly into space.
  • You can practice good self-care and teamcare everyday when you are part of many teams: classmates, family and community. By taking care of yourself and watching out for others, you and your team can achieve success that is out of this world. 

Action for you:
Create a scenario using self-care and teamcare in your own life. 

Suggestions:

    • Self-care activities: You might consider going out for a walk out in nature or forest (forest bathing), practice meditation, exercise, ride a stationary bike, yoga etc.
    • Team-care activities: Arrange an-out-office activity such as playing volleyball at the beach, hiking, camping.

2. Cultural competency

Key points:

  • Every human who travels into space is awe-struck with beauty of earth, gaining a fresh understanding of how fragile earth really is. We're a global society meaning we must work together
  • When you work with people from different places, you may notice differences from yourself- perhaps they speak a different language, wear different clothing or have different skin colour. They may also have a different opinion on certain subjects. These are cultural differences. 
  • What you consider normal in your part of the world, may be different from their normal. If you do not know how to deal with this, then it can be challenging to work together as a team. Solution is simple - cultural competency, the way we understand each other's differences. 
  • Dangers and challenges faced by group while exploring cave required that they stick together and communicate. Solution to working together successfully with different cultures is to realise that everyone's perspective and contributions has value. 
  • Your team is stronger and improved because of a cultural differences. If you truly respect and value the opinions and contributions of others, then you can set common goals that allow everyone on the team to be fulfilled. 
  • At first, you might think that you are giving up something, but in the end you will see that you exceeded your own expectations. So when you notice, somebody is different from you, listen to them, try to see things from their perspective and focus on your common goals, just as astronauts do on the International Space Station (ISS).

Action:
-Create a scenario of cultural understanding in your life.
Suggestions: Almost every African country is full of diverse cultures, try visiting a fellow farmer from a different culture from your own to learn and understand how they do whatever they do.

3. Leadership/followership

  • Leaders find people who are the best, then they encourage, enable and inspire those people to accomplish great things.
  • Great leaders do more listening than talking because their job is to know every team member and to help them do their best.
  • Good leaders give the credit for success to their team, but they take responsibility for the failures. 
  • When everyone on team is all in and feels valued, then the leader is doing a good job. 

followership

  • Another form of leadership. 
  • Good followers do not just follow but instead they lead themselves, their peers, and even their leaders when needed.
  • If you are in a follower role, think like a leader. Ask yourself, as a team, what are we trying to accomplish? what can i contribute? Is what am saying helping or hurting our progress?
  • Sometimes as a follower, you don't get to set the team's mission or vision but you are absolutely critical to its success. 
  • At NASA, astronauts lead and follow all the time, for instance when they change command at the ISS. Its important to trust and listen to each other because everyone is good at something and will be in charge at some point. 
  • You may not notice, but you switch back between leadership and followership all the time. In sports, when you have the ball, you are leading the team, and then you make a decision and your teammates support by blocking out the other team or getting in position to help, and as soon as you pass the ball, another player becomes leader and you become follower. 
  • Practice being good leaders and good followers, like at NASA and you will be surprised by how much success you are a part of. Trust and listen to the people around you, whether you are the leader or the follower.

 Action
-Create a scenario using leadership and followership in your life.
Suggestions: While on a team day event, assign each member a leadership role on a particular task while everyone else remains a follower and have a feedback session at the end of it all.

4. Teamwork and communication

  • Teamwork happens every time you work with another person to achieve a common goal. so all space missions rely on teams. Astronauts are assigned to a team or crew for their mission to the ISS.
  • Astronaut crews go through a lot of training before travelling to space: they learn how to work together as a team, get to know each other's responsibilities on the team, and they have to make sure that they all have the skills to overcome challenges together. 
  • So they need their teammates to keep them safe and accomplish difficult tasks, like spacewalks.  
  • Teamwork takes practice and you have opportunities to practice it in your life. You can support others, you can be a good listener and you can work together to solve problems. 

Action
-Create a scenario using teamwork in your life.
Suggestion: Play sports, such as a game of soccer or volleyball.

In conclusion, taking care of your health ensures that you are less prone to fall victim to the negative effects of stress and burnout which can derail your focus from working towards success of your agribusiness. When you become good at taking care of yourself, it will be easier to do the same for your teammates to increase understanding and communication with each other across cultural differences to create the trust necessary for solving problems as either leaders or followers in any particular situation. You should do continuos practice, and with it comes continuos improvement until these life skills are part and parcel of your personality.

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