Four Career Lessons From Matt Damon: Surviving ‘The Martian’


It takes an astronaut like Matt Damon's character in The Martian to survive a planet like Mars. But that is in the movies. What about in real life? Nancy Collamer found four career lessons stemming from Matt Damon's stranded experience that can get you through "earthly life."

Mark Watney did not expect to get stranded on the red planet. He enlisted as an astronaut. Got the training. And passed. Plus, he is a scientist. With his skill set, he was able to survive. But not all of us are astronauts and scientists. How are we going to survive? In particular, what can you learn from Watney (played by Matt Damon) being stranded? According to Forbes, there are four career lessons that everyone can use.

If you have not seen the movie yet, then this is a mandatory spoiler alert. After a freak storm, he was left and presumed to be dead on Mars. His crew had to abandon him in order to save the rest (after being presumed dead because he was struck by one of their tools). With only a handful of supplies and little amount of food, Watney tries to survive.

Here are the four career lessons you can learn from Matt Damon's character:

1. Break big tasks into small manageable pieces. In order to survive he reminds himself that he should not get overwhelmed. He creates a system and works through each by using a step by step process. Like that time he counted that he only had a few portions of food left that will last him for how many months. He saw potatoes. He tried to find ways to grow it. He is a botanist after all. He created ways to make water and fertilizer. His mantra? "Do the math." Watney explains at the end of the movie: "You solve one problem. And then you solve another. And then another. Solve enough and you stay alive."

2. Cultivate positivity. That is hard to do for Watney's case but he needed to do it. He needs to get out of depression and hopelessness. He continues to think, find humor in things and remains optimistic. He also entertains himself on board. Positive psychology is an important mindset when you are experiencing a hard time. If you put yourself in a positive mindset, productivity, creativity and engagement increases.

3. Embrace diversity in the workplace. What diversity, you ask? He was all alone on Mars. But the rest of the crew are not. In the movie, different types of people, departments and professionals work together to help save Mark Watney. Diversity enables people to come together and work towards an outcome. Like when China said they'd help NASA. Which they did in the movie. So don't be scared to ask help from your IT guy or from someone else. Working together can promote diversity and team work.

4. Lastly, pursue meaningful work. Even though he felt hopeless, he knows that what he was doing was important and meaningful. That time blurts out: "They say once you grow crops somewhere, you have officially colonized it. So, technically, I colonized Mars. In your face, Neil Armstrong!" He knows that his experience is important and meaningful for the next generation. Find that meaning in your work.

Watch what Damon has to say about his experience in filming The Martian:

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