Hawaiian Eye/Retina Meeting

Hawaiian Eye/Retina Meeting

January 15, 2017
2 min read

Capt. Mark Kelly: Perseverance, patience and communication keys to success in life

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KOLOA, Hawaii — Capt. Mark Kelly, discussed key elements to success through a series of anecdotes and lessons learned from his personal and professional life experiences here at Hawaiian Eye 2017, where he served as the event’s keynote speaker.

The former NASA space shuttle pilot, four-time visitor to the International Space Station and husband of former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords – who survived a 2011 assassination attempt – spoke about the importance of perseverance, communication, patience and attention to detail.

Mark Kelly


“How good you are at the beginning of anything you try is not a good indicator of how good you can become,” he said, following the tale of his first attempt at landing a Navy plane on an aircraft carrier, which took four less-than-graceful attempts.

“I am a prime example of somebody who is able to overcome a lack of aptitude, sometimes a serious lack of aptitude, with practice, persistence and just not giving up,” he added.

Kelly flew 39 combat missions in Operation Desert Storm. On his first mission, he made a decision to fly into enemy airspace without discussing that decision with his colleagues on the ground.

“I’ve thought about that night in every job I’ve had since,” Kelly said. “I learned that there’s not an excuse for not communicating with the people you work with. Timely and accurate communication is so important in everything we all do. That night I didn’t do that. It nearly cost me my life.”

In discussing the fateful incidents of NASA space shuttles Challenger and Columbia, two spacecraft that exploded in the Earth’s atmosphere, Kelly discussed the importance of paying attention to details, even minor ones.

Finally, Kelly told attendees of his experiences the day his wife was injured and how that incident has affected every aspect of his life, teaching him the importance of patience and the weight of decision-making.

He questioned his own ability to be patient enough to care for Giffords as she recovered, and some 5 years ago, she was able to rally him.

“[Gabby] had to teach me a little lesson about patience [and] how I was going to have to be patient with her. I have got to tell you, it never did make it easy, but it did make it easier,” he said. – by Rebecca Forand


Kelly M. Keynote address. Presented at: Hawaiian Eye; Jan. 14-20, 2017; Koloa, Hawaii.

Disclosure: Kelly reports no relevant financial disclosures.