Stories Talk | Presentation Skills and Effective Storytelling
Adrianos Golemis works at the European Astronaut Center (EAC – European Astronaut Center) of the European Space Agency (ESA) as a mission doctor, writing an excellent life course and doing a rare and exciting profession.
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By Mia Kollia
"Many people often ask me what exactly I do: together with a group of colleagues, I am in charge of the medical preparation of European astronauts before they fly into space, monitoring their health while they are in orbit around our planet (usually for six months) and organizing their rehabilitation after returning to our planet. Our tasks include the selection of the necessary and appropriate medicines for their mission, the medical examinations during the pre-flight quarantine period, the medical support of the launch, their safe repatriation after the landing and the recovery of their health in the environment of earth's gravity".
What led to your love for your subject?
I remember how Space, Astronomy, and astronaut missions were awe-inspiring when I read about them in books. My parents helped because they made every effort to provide my brother and me with proper education and nurtured curiosity while helping to identify short- and medium-term goals. The environment influences, this is certain. I chose Medicine instead of Physics at 18, influenced by my grandfather, a shining example of a doctor from a scientific and moral point of view. However, in the space field, what motivated me was the innate tendency toward exploration and limitless potential. Also, the fact that I had the freedom of choice from my parents and their trust that I was making a conscious choice and that, with an effort, I would succeed even though it is a relatively exotic medical field.
What qualifications should one possess to succeed in this challenging goal?
Effort, persistence, curiosity, passion, and a supportive environment.
What does it take to make one's dream come true?
First, mature faith in one's powers. Second, the ability to listen to the advice of others (even when they are discouraging). Third, a certain cleverness to make the best use of the experience of the most experienced, and when the time comes for an extensive choice to dare to decide based on what is in the heart and believing in oneself.
Luck, or timing, certainly plays a role, but it's a factor that dictates how far you get, not whether you get there.
How did you overcome significant difficulties, and what did they teach you?
At times there is a logic or disbelief towards one's different choice, which brings loneliness and occasionally inner doubt. However, when we make choices that suit the majority, we feel safer; we think that we belong to the whole and that it protects us; there is no reason to be accountable for our choices since the majority accepts them.
This phenomenon is more pronounced in every person's expected turns in his path. Fortunately, I rarely had such moments, and only at the beginning.
A significant difficulty is a failure where you least expect it and when opportunities are few. The first time I applied to work as a doctor on astronaut missions, I finished second out of all the applicants, but there was only one position. I took the rejection letter and taped it to my fridge so I could look at it and gain a determination (in a positive way) to do it.
How much time do you spend daily on your subject, and how much on your personal life?
Personal life is significant. Personal life is not necessarily the time corresponding to complete abstinence from work because my work, or its spatial element, fills me in my time as well.
Personal life certainly means devoting time to the people we love. Of course, there are phases of life in which work comes first – for me, such phases are the duration of an Astro mission sailor in Space – but there are also phases when rest, cultivating our interests, and being with people we love are compensated.
How do you manage fear in your life?
It is my alarm. Fear is a self-preservation instinct. "I'm afraid of heights because if I fall, I'll lose my life." "I'm afraid of a big dog because if it bites me, my physical integrity is at risk."
It is right to have an alarm when situations are potentially dangerous. But we must manage fear with maturity. So when the "alarm" goes off, let's take stock of the problem and judge how we should react to the fear with logic.
We manage fear with trust. Trust in others and confidence in ourselves and our abilities. Here is a personal example: I recently acquired my single-engine pilot's license: I was understandably scared the first few times I flew the plane alone. But I trusted the engineer who checked the excellent condition of the aircraft before the flight. I also trusted my instructor, who told me that I was ready for the first "solo" flight, and I also trusted myself, thinking that other pilots, when the need arose, managed to get by – so why not me?
Trust is the key to dealing with fear.
Which elements in one's character must be tamed or nurtured to co-exist effectively and creatively with other people?
Humans achieve much more when we work together, but we need harmony. It is something that team sports also teach us. Balance is mandatory between the tendency to lead, which is positive to have, and the willingness to listen to the rest of the team, even its members, who are usually reluctant to express themselves.
One also needs to tame one's visions, expectations, and ambitions and at least sometimes prioritize others and the good of the whole.
Elements that one must cultivate are patience and tolerance of diversity. Tolerance of diversity is an integral part of the smooth functioning of the whole, and respect for diversity is also.
What do you gain and lose from being devoted to an object and over-exerting yourself?
My professor in Strasbourg, Mr. Zervos, used to say "the best alternative is forgone," in other words, we lose something to which we could have devoted our time and energy. Therefore, it is good to be careful that a single subject does not absorb our vitality because we lose our lives with colorful beauty and multidimensional fulfillment.
Cavafy again teaches us that what matters most is the road to Ithaca and not just the destination itself.
I believe striving for something pleasant, helpful, or necessary to us is always positive.