The Astronaut’s Guide to Risk Mitigation: Pre-Visualize Success, with Scott Parazynski, Retired NASA Astronaut and Author, The Sky Below

Practice is important. But the conscious intention behind the practice matters at least as much as the repetition. For high-stakes and potentially high-stress events, it’s important to pre-visualize success. To practice with winning in mind. This habituates you not only to the set of actions you’re planning to perform, but to the mindset you’ll need to do your very best. Relaxation is a crucial component of success in most high-stakes events, so it, too, should be a component of your practice.




The way that I’ve always been able to maintain my calm, my steely nerves, if I can say that, is to pre-visualize success. If you can’t visualize ultimately being successful, it’s tough to sometimes get there because you can be distracted by everything coming at you all at once. So it’s channeling your vision towards seeing a pathway to success. One example that I’d give you I learned early in my life as a luge athlete, believe it or not. I used to do this crazy sport called luge – it’s a Winter Olympic sport on a sled about the size of a cafeteria tray, and you’re laying on your back and careening down this icy track at speeds of up to 85 mph and feeling forces up to 6 g’s pushing you back in your sled. So it’s really exciting, it’s high-adrenaline, but the way you really excel at that sport is by relaxing. You have to have an explosive start off the start handles, but then you have to get back into position, and it’s all about carving that perfect line. And the way that we would prepare to do that is a method called pre-visualization. We would be in the start house, we’d lay down on a bench up in the start house, and we’d close our eyes and move our body exactly as we would on the track. And it was amazing, we would actually time ourselves and we would finish the run in our mind at the exact same time within a second of what it would take on the real track. So we were actually going down the track in our minds with physical inputs and pre-visualizing our success.


I’ve done that in so many different aspects of my life, from space walks to my summit climb on Mount Everest. It’s really important to be able to see your pathway to success, and then also of course to have thought through what is my Plan B and my Plan C when things will inevitably go wrong.

在人生的各种职业与运动中,无论是太空行走,还是攀爬珠峰,我都使用过预先演习的练习方法。你得把通往成功的行动步骤给吃透,当然也得事先想好Plan B 甚至是Plan C,以免在真正执行挑战时发生不可避免的意外状况。


Pre-visualization: The practice of seeing a pathway to success for any challenge you face.

Excelling in high-risk environments often requires you to relax.

To calm yourself and prepare for a big challenge:

close your eyes and run through the course of action in your mind

time yourself, when applicable

use physical inputs, if possible