His book about what life is like up there is really just as much about how to live life down here. See the title's underline: "What going to space taught me about ingenuity, determination and being prepared for anything."
Sounds like another self-help book, huh? It is in a way, but An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth is a different sort of self-help story, and not merely because it reflects on how it feels to zip around the planet aboard a vehicle as big as a football field, going so fast you cross the vast Pacific Ocean in a mere 30 minutes and seeing the sun rise and set 30 times per day (15 of each).
The difference comes from how Hadfield puts a fresh spin on tired maxims we hear so often from motivation experts - such as how important it is think positive.
That's far too wussy for astronauts. Risk is so huge in their game that the only attitude that works is knowing all that things that can go badly wrong, knowing exactly how to fix them and then practising and practising every move.
It makes Hadfield big on "the power of negative thinking". It's not, he explains , that he's a pessimist, but that, "my optimism and confidence come not from feeling I'm luckier than other mortals, and they sure don't come from visualising victory. They're the result of a lifetime spent visualizing defeat and figuring out how to prevent it."
Then there's the common caution not to sweat the small stuff. Back up the bus, says Hadfield. Becoming an astronaut is so tough (6000 applied for posts last year; only eight got in the door) that every tiny detail counts. He reckons that even in more mundane pursuits it pays to pay attention. "If you're striving for excellence - whether it's playing the guitar or flying a jet - there's no such thing as over-preparation. It's your best chance of improving your odds."
Another common tip we hear is that 'making it' comes from standing out and sounding confident. Colonel Hadfield, by contrast, sees three main personality types. There are the minus ones, who are actively harmful and the creators of problems; zeroes, who have neutral impact and don't tip the balance one way or another; and the plus ones, seen by others as people who add value. Everyone wants to be one of those. But says Hadfield: "Proclaiming your plus-oneness at the outset almost guarantees you'll be perceived as a minus one, regardless of the skills you bring to the table or how you actually perform. This might seem self-evident, but it can't be, because so many people do it."
His advice: be a zero. Practise humility. Work hard. Do your best. "If you really are a plus one, people will notice – and they're even more likely to give you credit for it if you're not trying to rub their noses in your greatness."
The book is bigger than all of this. It's chockablock with fascinating details about the incredibly complex, gruelling and exhilarating business of learning how to get out through the blue into orbit, and return, and run the International Space Station in between those two insanely perilous events. You'll learn stuff you never knew, and some funny little details and rituals as well. For instance, who knew that on their way to board Russian Soyuz rockets for the trip out to orbit, every astronaut stops to pee on the right rear tyre of the bus? Why? Because Yuri Gagarin did it. (Not so easy for female astronauts - they take a sample in a little bottle to do a dutiful sprinkle).
Hadfield proves to be as good at writing smart, entertaining text as he is at singing in space. He'll not venture out there again, having hung up his astronaut helmet. But watch for lift-off on the speaking circuit. He'll be in orbit in no time, scoring plus-ones all the way.