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How to live with grace and grit | Former NASA astronaut Leland Melvin

  • Published on Apr 11, 2019
  • - Former NASA astronaut Leland Melvin is the only person to catch a pass in the NFL and in space.
    - Here, he shares his thoughts on living in a state of grace and advocating for justice.
    - Humanity's future is among the stars and to get there, we'll need everyone's diverse talents.
    A former wide receiver for the Detroit Lions, Leland Melvin is an engineer and NASA astronaut. He served on the space shuttle Atlantis as a mission specialist and was named the NASA Associate Administrator for Education in October 2010. He is the author of Chasing Space: An Astronaut's Story of Grit, Grace, and Second Chances (
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    Grace is a way that you live your life. We all go through life and we have these different journeys and we meander in different ways in and out and ebb and flow, but grace is a way of appreciating the people that are around you, the things that are around you and how you interact with them in a way that's meaningful, that's purposeful, that's intentional. You live it in an intentional way you don't just hey write someone off and just keep moving, everyone has a purpose on this planet and we can learn something from everyone. I mean I learn something every day from my dog. I learned patience. I learn things from people that I would have never of expected to learn something the janitor or whomever it is. And so moving through life in this graceful way of embracing everything around you so.
    Before I could read my mother read to me every night two books: The Little Engine That Could, I think I can, I think I can, and Curious George looking up curiosity. And I'll never forget I was this little kid on the football team, the smallest kid probably. I could run fast but no one ever expected me to play in the NFL and I never imagined to play in the NFL because I was just this small little kid. But having this never give up I think I can, I think I can mentality is a gritty way of ensuring that you're going to reach the dreams and goals that you have.
    Sometimes people don't have expectations for you because they see you are from a certain neighborhood or a certain ZIP Code or whatever and you're looked at as this kid, "Well you're never going to be an astronaut because you're from that ZIP Code." And college, the SATs to get you in college only predict the first and second year success, it doesn't predict if you're going to graduate or how well you're going to do past the first and second year. So if we're going to try to build this civilization, future civilization, Mars, moon, wherever we're going to go we want to do it with as many people as we can that have these creative ideas and our diversity. And that means that we've got to make sure that we educate everyone. And I have a graphic that says you have three little boys all standing on a box, they're trying to look at the game. The little boy in the blue shirt he can't see the game because he's too short, that's equality. But justice is when you have what you need. When he gets two boxes he can see the game. One of the kids doesn't even need a box, but he gets a box anyway. So let's not be equal, let's give justice and give you what you need so that you can see the game.

Comments • 75

  • JeremyIan
    JeremyIan 25 days ago

    How lucky for you. All my mom ever read me before bed was the riot act

  • TheCortexReaver
    TheCortexReaver Month ago +3

    Astronaut super men guy: let's look for justice in opportunities.

    Conservative: Well I never, if the poor were not so lazy, they would inherit an empire like I did from my dad Charles Emerson the Seventh!

    • TheCortexReaver
      TheCortexReaver Month ago

      +Cole Panacci obviously equality of outcome and opportunity is the same thing. Executing same input on 99.9 identical DNA leads to same output (even if the result is probabilistic in nature). Some pure form of equality of outcome would be taking 60 year old illiterate from poor neighborhood and making him NASA director, and no one ever proposed that. Investment into bread or education for anyone younger than 30 is not an outcome, that is still the opportunity. Stop reading bible or Mein Kampf and get educated in science. Conservativism is much like retardation but can be cured with knowledge!

    • Cole Panacci
      Cole Panacci Month ago

      Actually he's talking about equality of outcome.
      Equality of opportunity involves vast reforms of our current system of education, which he didn't mention. All he referenced was the fact that certain neighbourhoods produce certain statistical outcomes, namely lower SAT scores (among other issues not addressed), that we should seek to remedy through affirmative action (in other words, equality of outcome).
      True equality of opportunity would involve an increased police presence within the communities he referenced, and a reformation of the criminal justice and educational systems, something that the left hates talking about because "racism".
      Astronaut supermen guy: "muh boxes"

  • Chris Marklowitz
    Chris Marklowitz Month ago

    Naive way of thinking. This is the premise that you have no limits so you just need grit and all people are wonderful and nice so we can learn from them. Which is not realistic. People can be evil and we must learn to fight. We have limits so we must learn to accept them and adapt around them.

    • Chris Marklowitz
      Chris Marklowitz Month ago +1

      +Gordon Shier Well put hadn't thought of that but that makes a lot of sense

    • Gordon Shier
      Gordon Shier Month ago +1

      true but its often hard to tell which of your limits are arbitrary/changeable and which are intrinsic. i think being young is about pushing, occasionally blasting your way through your limits and seeing what you're really capable of.

  • James Valaitis
    James Valaitis Month ago

    So many people stumble upon this core, ancient Buddhist understanding from where one should derive meaning and satisfaction. They then call it whatever they want, but the important part is that people are coming to this realisation.

  • Gonçalo Dias
    Gonçalo Dias Month ago

    I have an idea, let´s all give hands, dance and sing kumbaya! And if someone doesn´t want to give us their hands let´s just cry and scream. How come no one ever thought about this?

    • Gonçalo Dias
      Gonçalo Dias Month ago

      One more video with zero content, and I will unsubscribe this channel! C´mon be pertinent

  • koushik sai
    koushik sai Month ago


  • Cm
    Cm Month ago +1

    This advice is too general. I liked his points, seems like a really nice guy but at the end of the day I’d like to hear some anger you know at the fact some people have to be janitors and other people are astronauts, largely in part because of what kind of brain and genetics they have. We live in a competitive society, for the future generations there needs to be less dog eat dog, less cutting down people to get ahead. The mould on one orange corrupt and influence the rest

  • renragged
    renragged Month ago +1

    Who's the chick in the beginning/thumbnail and why is she there? Click-bait?

  • Qqq Myes
    Qqq Myes Month ago +1

    Grace is a spiritual word. He doesn’t even define it other than say he tries to learn from everyone he meets. That is not grace. This is one person’s general life philosophy that really does not belong on “Big Think”

  • michaelrose93
    michaelrose93 Month ago +6

    Affirmative action is *unjust* for several reasons. First off, Asians are given a pit to stand in, instead of a box to stand on, because they are too "tall." That's *_not_* justice, especially since many Asian groups (such as Burmese and Bhutanese) perform terribly in school to begin with! They don't need racial discrimination to hold them back even further. On the flip side of things, various African groups, such as Nigerians, *_outperform_* most everyone else in school. They do NOT need a "box" to stand on, but are given one anyway. The result of this unjust advantage? *In 2007, African students constituted nearly 40 percent of the black students admitted to Ivy League schools.*

    Education should be merit based, period. Children of alumni should not be given preferential admission. Neither should football players or minorities. And hobbling Asians to keep "too many" of them out of college is medieval. Discrimination is NOT justice.

    P.S. He's wrong about the SAT, it is indeed predictive of graduation rates, just not *_highly_* predictive. High school GPA's are more predictive, but the combination of both is pretty accurate. There's a chart with statistics in Forbes - "What Predicts College Completion? High School GPA Beats SAT Score" < if anyone's interested.

    • Cole Panacci
      Cole Panacci Month ago +1

      +John T "no regard for your fellow countrymen" as you literally disregard the targeted oppression of Asians based on their race...
      What a hypocrite... There's honestly no helping you folks. Fire up the choppers boys.

    • michaelrose93
      michaelrose93 Month ago +2

      +John T < LOL, Troll harder.

    • John T
      John T Month ago +1

      That doesn't make affirmative action "unjust", that just shows how ignorant, narrow and short sighted your field of vision is. You're ideology only considers others in relation to yourself with no regard for your fellow countrymen. We get that you think anything that isn't fascist and unconstitutional is un-American and communist. No one really expected any better from you and that's probably why you are this way. I consider you beyond salvation at this point. You've had years to prove you're capable of growth but, 🌬 guess not.

  • groverkartikey
    groverkartikey Month ago +1

    saw you on "one strange rock", keep up the great work!

  • Mr. Cloverfield
    Mr. Cloverfield Month ago +6

    Equality of outcome (equity) is not justice. You are taking from others who are more successful despite their shortcomings and giving to others who aren't successful.
    I support a base level for everyone (UBI) because it is given to all, not just the ones that are decided to be deserving.
    Andrew Yang 2020

    • John T
      John T Month ago

      +BH FourTwoEight I'll let you decide whether you want to be a useful or useless idiot. It makes no difference to me.

    • BH FourTwoEight
      BH FourTwoEight Month ago +2

      +John T Jumping around there a bit - lost?

      "They full-throatedly endorse their own subjugation--that's the authoritarian portion of fascism." This pretty well describes the useful idiots that think socialism is a good idea for America. If you want equality of outcomes you pretty much have to use force.

      I suggest you take some time to learn what conservative thinking REALLY is.

      I recommend Pra.ger Univer.sity and Hills.dale Coll.ege's free courses as starting points.

      Now is a good time to take the red pill.

    • Cole Panacci
      Cole Panacci Month ago

      +John T you're worthless, you troll

    • John T
      John T Month ago

      +Monika Staciwa See what I mean? They're completely incompetent.

    • Mr. Cloverfield
      Mr. Cloverfield Month ago

      +Monika Staciwa are you against equality?
      Just like with Social Security, you can opt out of receiving benefits. Plus the percentage of people who would get but don't need or are helped by the UBI would be vastly outweighed by the people who do need it and or are helped by it.

  • Luke Davis
    Luke Davis Month ago

    Dear God read The Republic.
    This is like if one of the characters Socrates was arguing the definition of justice was Karl Marx.

  • Pharock
    Pharock Month ago


  • Pharock
    Pharock Month ago

    Way to much in common?

  • Leland Gill
    Leland Gill Month ago +1

    Leland Squad stand up

  • Todd McLeod
    Todd McLeod Month ago +1

    Awesome, Leland. I love it. Great!

  • tubester4567
    tubester4567 Month ago +6

    What if a kid has the opportunity to study, but chooses to stop studying because its too much hard work so he decides to leave school and sell drugs instead??

    • tubester4567
      tubester4567 Month ago

      +Mass Extinction I dont buy it. Theres more than enough evidence, like communism, that when a society gets shit for free, the quality of life goes down sharply for everybody. Most western countries have a welfare system to take care of people who cant succeed in the workforce. The poorest person in the west today lives better than a rich person did 100 years ago. Capitalism has transformed dozens of countries over the last 100 years , and lifted millions out of poverty, like in China.

    • Mass Extinction
      Mass Extinction Month ago

      Capitalism 🕵️‍♀️ Based on differential advantage

    • Mass Extinction
      Mass Extinction Month ago

      tubester4567 🕵️‍♀️

    • Cm
      Cm Month ago +2

      tubester4567 well you said it’s too much hard work, the system is failing and it’s going to get worse with automation

  • Tyler Nelson
    Tyler Nelson Month ago +9

    I’ve heard some good critiques of the analogy he gave at the end, just saying

  • Master of Intelligence - Official Channel

    *People must live with grace*

  • Cole Panacci
    Cole Panacci Month ago +6

    What he means instead of "justice" is equity.
    What he means by equity is lemme take your stuff and give it to this person I view as worse off.
    What I mean is don't tread on me.

    • John T
      John T Month ago

      +BH FourTwoEight You're painfully dumb. You're talking to yourself from here on out.

    • BH FourTwoEight
      BH FourTwoEight Month ago

      +John T I got it - from each according to their ability, to each according to their need.

    • Cole Panacci
      Cole Panacci Month ago

      +John T you're actually pathetic.
      Take your bitching elsewhere.

  • Gulgathydra
    Gulgathydra Month ago +4

    Step 1: Grace 🤪
    Step 2: Grit 👿
    Step 4: Game? 🏟

  • Mickey Thomas
    Mickey Thomas Month ago +5

    Whoever dislikes this video sucks, and needs a hug or something

    • Mickey Thomas
      Mickey Thomas Month ago

      BH FourTwoEight
      I agree. But not closing my mind because of it. I replace justice/equality with the word ‘opportunity’ Bang on

      LOCAL COPE Month ago

      what do you expect, he only got the job because he is black, he only got the interview because he is black. they should have interviewed scott kelly

    • BH FourTwoEight
      BH FourTwoEight Month ago +2

      Hmmm... I agree, but the last minute kind of wandered off. I hope he was just having a hard time explaining the point instead of just adding some SJW blather.

  • O'SSÉIN - Master Your Mind With Me

    *How? It begins with defining what values we decide to live by. Holding true to integrity is the sure way to raise our standards with everything.*

    • O'SSÉIN - Master Your Mind With Me
      O'SSÉIN - Master Your Mind With Me Month ago +1

      +Mickey Thomas Awesome Mickey. I expect to see your comments on videos and sharing your opinions.
      We develop in discussions. Cheers brother!

    • Mickey Thomas
      Mickey Thomas Month ago +1

      O'SSÉIN - Master Your Mind With Me
      Glad my comment on parenting gave you a chuckle. I suspect you immediately read the hyperbole in it. Great minds work the same, even if they don’t always agree with each other. You got some interesting content. I just subbed you. Congrats man

  • zeegoku
    zeegoku Month ago +2

    I'll try 😏

    • Eddie W
      Eddie W Month ago

      zeegoku don’t try just do it. Remember the only thing that’s holding you back is me