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Adjusting to a new role?

"An astronaut can walk in space but can’t handle standing on her own two feet." Have you ever had trouble adjusting to a new role? That was certainly the case for Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper. She is one of only 7 women who have walked in space, and was a member of the recent Atlantis crew that helped get the construction restarted on the space station.

When her team arrived back on earth, Heidemarie was given a few of hours of orientation, and was then asked to join in a post mission news conference. During the conference, she collapsed twice, and was eventually taken away by NASA officials. There was nothing really wrong, it was just that her body was adjusting to being back in a world with gravity.

Her story peaked my interest, and so I did a little research on the effect of lack of gravity on the human body: muscle mass vanishes at the rate of 5% per week, and you lose as much as 22% of your blood, which affects your heart. There is also a long term impact on bone density.

We do not tend to notice the effect of gravity until it isn’t there anymore. It’s a little like moving on to a new project, team, or a new organization. You may not have realized all the career "gravity" that was around you – that gave you structure and order and a sense of security. Once you find yourself in a new situation, you may feel you’ve gone from "Superstar Astronaut" to not being able to stand on your own two feet, as Piper said: “Boy, if that is not a little embarrassing”. This is what’s called your adjustment period. It will all come back, you just need to get adjusted to the new circumstances.

Astronauts get prepared to come back to earth – they exercise both physically and mentally to make the transition. You also will need to consider this before your next move. Then, once again, you will be off to the moon!

This week’s 10 Minute WORKout:

What Career Gravity do you have around you? What can you do to be prepared for a new challenge?

Along the road with you,

Alan Kearns