Maurizio Cheli’s private and professional path is studded with successes and experiences fueled first of all by his passion for flying, and then by his passion for work, constantly searching for excellence in every field. Thanks to his experiences as an astronaut, chief test pilot and entrepreneur, Maurizio Cheli conveys the intensity and emotions of his extraordinary experiences to his audience, so as to stir important reflections, useful for the private and professional life. Maurizio proposes aimed motivational speeches for corporate events, conventions and workshops, using his many experiences and the metaphor of space. Maurizio offers ideas to turn every life into an extraordinary adventure and every business into an exceptional place, so that anyone can become the best pilot of his or her existence. Space, the last frontier, is a harsh environment for man, an extreme border. Its exploration requires highly sophisticated technical means and a team organization extremely attentive to every single detail. However, space exploration offers numerous lessons which can be applied also to the most varied organization and management areas, with particular reference to the new cognitive and behavioral models current in the business environment. Thus the “tale” of space lends itself to both analyzing contingent professional and business issues and, on a more general level, for motivational purposes of dynamization and optimization of human, technical and organizational resources.
Passion and Professionalism
Can our passion become our profession? Can our heart be the navigator enabling us to realize ourselves and make our dreams come true? Maurizio Cheli’s story shows us that it is possible. He has turned his childhood dream, born by observing planes darting in the skies of his native town, into a life project that led him to NASA, Alenia, the creation of start-ups and today’s ever new challenges… Till the Everest! Choices made with the heart, created with perseverance and rationality, allowing us to bring out the peculiar, unique aspect of our personality and be really successful. Both in life and work.
Empathy and team spirit allow each member of the crew to exploit their skills in the best possible way. As for the space mission, so for the conquest of Everest top and his activity as an entrepreneur, Maurizio Cheli makes use of what he has learned during his long years of activity to be in assonance with the people working with him. Any peak, even the highest ones, can be reached only together, sharing knowledge, skills and goals. In every field, also in the entrepreneurial activity seeing him engaged on a daily basis. Success or failure belong to the whole team. In fact, all the names are present on the symbol of the suit! This same group chemistry must characterize the company team.
Space and company
The company, seen as a “spacecraft”, can continue its journey only if the group, or crew, are close-knit and work with a great spirit of collaboration. The integration of skills and different life experiences develops a progressive feeling of belonging to the project. Skill, trust and interdependence become fundamental words in the life on board as well as in the company team. It is precisely the interchange between different paths of life and work that makes a new project operating, while solving any difficulties during a space mission. Maurizio Cheli, recounting his own experience during orbital flights, describes the on-board dynamics highlighting the balances and finding meaningful parallels, fundamental in corporate life.
Beyond the limits
The awareness of oneself, of one’s skills, is essential to relate first of all with the project, as well as with the people working with us. We learn to manage body, mind and emotions. The integration of these three aspects allows us to overcome the difficulties of every new corporate project, but also to reach the top of the highest peak in the world, as Maurizio Cheli did. Tackling new business challenges often implies a reorganization of our needs and requirements. Changes which are necessary if we want to evolve. The mind, constantly kept in exercise, and stimulated by new projects, regenerates itself while remaining efficient and responsive.
Authority and leadership
A space mission commander, just like a company executive, must have a clear and precise goal, as well as a vision of the procedures and strategies to achieve it. In his role, he will try to make the most of everyone’s abilities, pursuing the group’s homogeneity. Once the peculiarities of each member have been identified, an important step is to delegate tasks. Seeing their skills enhanced, each crew member will feel part of the process of achieving a common goal. The ability to assign roles and responsibilities pursuing a good balance, thus enhancing individuals, turns the CEO into a true “commander”. Teams are usually paralyzed by managers who want to decide everything by themselves. Controlling the work of one’s collaborators too closely, when there is no particular need, risks undermining their trust, the spirit of collaboration and integration for a common commitment, aimed at achieving the goal. Respect and openness allow us to win the trust of the group. The commander of a space mission as well as the company executive must be demanding, but also understanding and capable of inspiring trust and respect. Let’s remember the importance of a good example in order not to lose the trust of our collaborators, as well as two words: frankness and transparency. Listening to a suggestion or a constructive discussion can save your life in space... as well as the future of your business!
Once the goal has been identified, be it personal or business, what is called the “optimal experience” or “flow experience” takes over. This is a feeling of well-being and fullness characterizing people focused on a specific goal, and aware of their capabilities. The person, focused on his project, his “mission”, perceives the hints to bring about a correct accomplishment. Certainly there could be moments of crisis, when the goal may seem more distant and unattainable. In those moments, it can be useful to break up the mission into stages, insert new elements and reconsider our order of priorities. Even to get to the top of Everest, Maurizio Cheli had to face the ascent step by step. It took him years to fly to space. There is also a “useful stress”: that is, that positive stimulation that accompanies moments of particular euphoria or emotion. An example of this is the launch of the Space Shuttle, or of a new start-up.
Management of uncertainties and risks
The historical-social moment in which we are living requires a reflection on how to face moments of uncertainty. Like a crew on a mission, companies are today moving towards new and different balances. It is useless to try and recreate in space one’s old “terrestrial” habits. The coronavirus health emergency has called into question the normal dynamics of daily life and social interaction. Isolation requires profound behavioral and psychological changes. If, on the one hand, this condition of “suspended” life helps reflection, it can also become a source of fears. In order for a situation to evolve, it is inevitable to go through a moment of chaos, from which a new order will emerge. Space flight training, in addition to teaching that training is in large part fundamental to deal with the unexpected and with uncertainties, pays attention to the “what if?”, to criticality, but always in a constructive, operational, never negative way. Getting someone ready to face any emergency. While being present to ourselves, we must always be responsible for our actions. Take the risks of the change we want to make and, automatically, of any mistakes. Let’s stop and think about what we really want, who we feel we are and what we can offer. We are the masters of our destiny.
Reacting to change
No chage is more traumatic than that of an astronaut who finds himself catapulted into a completely different reality within a few minutes. What does space teach us? All transitions towards major changes involve increased pressure and require adaptations. Moving away from our “comfort zone” can affect self-confidence. A slight insecurity that must be seen positively, as a spur towards new insights in different professional fields. We must also pay attention to the origin of our anxiety. Sometimes insecurity is within us. Let’s single out our skills and, with positivity, let’s focus without being influenced by a negative commentary. The more we develop our autonomy, the more we trust in our abilities and our power, the less we are stress sensitive.
Procedures and flexibility
Transferring the skills gained, while respecting procedures both in astronautics and to start a new company, to implement a new business project, requires an important mental flexibility aimed at welcoming unexpected events and changes, not only within the economic framework. Let’s put our needs, security, trust, belonging to a consolidated reality... and even self-esteem into play! However, turning a hobby into a profession or launching your company into new projects means getting back into the game, rediscovering the euphoria of the challenge. In Maurizio Cheli’s professional history, acceptance of rules has been a necessary condition to be successful and fulfil his goals since the years of the Academy.
The astronaut who sees the Earth from space appreciates it and fully perceives its intrinsic fragility. We are all aboard a spaceship. During the orbital flight, Maurizio Cheli had the opportunity to reflect on Earth as being our only “home”. Humanity travels through space in this “spacecraft”. We cannot, we must not be indifferent when we observe how thin the layer of our atmosphere is, when we see the damage already caused by pollution and human interventions that do not take the ecosystem protection into account. Timely interventions are needed to introduce sustainable behaviors. From this point of view, “sustainability” becomes a philosophy that must inspire us not only in our private life, but also in the professional one. In this sense, raising the awareness of companies is fundamental. The production chain of each product must take the impact on the planet into account. Making new products, always with a view to saving energy and limiting pollution, becomes a cutting-edge goal for the market, with many advantages from any point of view... including the environmental one!