Yesterday morning, I danced a little happy jig in celebration of the beginning of Round 2 of the Mars One selection. I am one of the 0.5% of the applicants who were selected to advance to the next round. Basically, we’ve been whittled down from over 200,000 applicants to 1,058 who will likely travel to regional headquarters for interviews. I am beginning to like the odds.
For the ones who didn’t make it, I hope that you stay involved. A handful of people have suggested to me that there could be ground crew positions available if I don’t make it all the way. Even if you decide not to earn a living by helping Mars One (!!), it may help to do a candid self-assessment of why you didn’t make it this time. Some might want to work on becoming more comfortable in front of a camera. Others may want to brush up on their credentials and review the list of qualifications for an honest self-assessment for any personality flaws that may have hindered their application the first time around. The important thing is to stay busy and not give up just because you weren’t selected this time around.
For those of us who did make it, 2014 is going to be busy. I’ve already gotten requests for interviews from various media venues. I’m also gearing up for whatever form that the Round 2 selection takes. We’ve made it this far, but the hard work is about to begin. That means nobody should get complacent at this point. Some of us might freeze up when they finally get in front of the selection panels. Others might make a fatal mistake without even realizing it. The best candidates will remember that the selections are supposed to be tough and won’t let themselves get thrown by anything that the panel asks them.
Sounds like I’m stating the obvious, doesn’t it? I just see it this way. There were indications that some of those who were already eliminated just didn’t take it seriously enough. I’m not talking about the ones that never made it past the application fee, though there were likely plenty of those. I mean the ones who shot their application videos in the nude as Bas Lansdorp mentioned in this article, and I hope the selection committee at least got to see a couple of impressive physiques. I know that one of the requirements is a sense of humor, but we can’t afford to give the panels any indication that we don’t take this project seriously now. So be sure to check any negative attitudes and sarcastic comments you have towards any aspect of the mission and make sure you’re not being unreasonable about it. Some mistakes that should be avoided include:
- Having to apologize for anything. If you foresee yourself having to apologize for something, that’s something you might want to work on before you get in front of the selection committee. If you lack a skill you think you might need to survive in the advanced trials, now’s the time to look into workshops at your local community college so you can at least tell the committee you’re working on that.
- Forgetting the bill of good health from your physician. Make sure you make an appointment with your doctor now and put the paperwork in a safe place where you won’t forget about it. Add the paperwork to your checklist when you’re getting ready to go to the interview. Double-check and triple-check that you actually have it. That will most certainly beat getting there and realizing you completely forgot about it.
- Getting drunk before the interview. Never, ever, ever do this in public if you want to make it to Mars. It tends to bring out the worst in people.
- Getting thrown by something. Nobody really knows what form the Round 2 selections will take, but there are indications that it will test our emotional capabilities. Some things will a little unexpected and might make some of us hesitate. Which person do you think is more likely to make it if Person A throws a tantrum about having to perform a rather unsavory task and Person B just shrugs and does it? Probably very few of us who advanced to the second round will be immature enough to throw a fit over something that seems so minor when I’m sitting at my desk, but it’s right up there with getting drunk. It could happen, and it’s not a good idea. I figure it’s okay to admit that you don’t know how to do something and/or flag down a teammate who does, but the selection committee won’t be too impressed if somebody were to theoretically make the situation worse.
Probably a lot of this sounds obvious now, but people WILL forget them when dealing with the stress of the Round 2 selections and moving on beyond Round 2 in the event that you did well enough to advance to Rounds 3 and 4. We’re still competing with more than a thousand highly motivated people with the likelihood of being placed under a highly public microscope. We’re all going to get stressed out and want to get royally sloshed at some point during this whole thing, in which case I just recommend finding a pillow to punch.