Think Like A Rocket Scientist Summary

1-Sentence-Summary: Think Like A Rocket Scientist teaches you how to think like an engineer in your everyday life so that you can accomplish your personal and professional goals and reach your full potential.

Read in: 4 minutes

Favorite quote from the author:

Think Like a Rocket Scientist Summary

I got my first LEGO set late one night when I was seven-years-old. Although I had to go to bed before I could put it together that night, I was so excited that I got up at 7 am the next morning to build it. 

Things quickly got frustrating, however, near the end of the instructions when I realized it wasn’t fitting together quite right. I ran through all the previous steps trying to find the problem. 

I still remember how exhilarating it was to discover and solve the issue and end up with my first completed LEGO set. 

But what was even more awesome was that I had unknowingly fallen in love with problem-solving and critical thinking. I excelled in math and science classes and eventually got an engineering degree.

While I’m no rocket scientist, I can tell you that knowing how to solve problems is vital if you want to be successful. It improves my relationships, business ventures, and even health. And I know it will do the same for you.

That’s why you’re going to love learning how to develop these skills in Ozan Varol’s Think Like a Rocket Scientist: Simple Strategies You Can Use to Make Giant Leaps in Work and Life.

Here’s the book summarized in just 3 lessons:

  1. Stop following what everybody else is doing if you want to become great at creating new things and finding unique solutions to problems.
  2. Testing is vital if you want to ensure that your chances of success are high.
  3. Although you might not like it, studying and learning from your failures is critical, even when things are going well.

Ground control to Major Tom! Let’s get right into it and learn how to Think Like A Rocket Scientist!

If you want to save this summary for later, download the free PDF and read it whenever you want.

Download PDF

Lesson 1: You’ll become great at innovating only when you stop following the crowd.

Elon Musk’s journey to creating SpaceX wasn’t easy. It began with a $20 million problem when he couldn’t afford to build even one rocket. But that was based on thinking he had to do it like everybody else. 

Once Musk got out of his own head and thought patterns, he realized that it was much simpler. He could manufacture everything himself to make his dream a reality, and make better and more cost-efficient rockets in the process!

While you love the success that forming habits brings, it’s got some downsides, as Musk’s experience shows. 

When you get into the same routine every day, you fail to question whether your actions and processes are actually leading to your desired outcomes. Which is why you’re not reaching your biggest goals.

Instead, get out of the rut by following rocket scientists, who use first principles thinking. Try this method yourself by questioning every piece of the problem or goal you’re working on. 

Then, identify and let go of every assumption you’re making about what you have to do to get it done. This lets you break free of the norm and truly get into an innovative mindset. 

And pretty soon you’ll be solving problems and achieving goals you never imagined possible.

Lesson 2: If you want your chances of success to skyrocket, test test test.

A few months ago I was scrolling through Reddit when I saw that NASA was accepting applications for astronauts. I’ve always been mesmerized by the idea of going to space, so I clicked on it. 

I was in shock when I realized that I may have qualified to apply. My wife thought I was crazy for considering it. I would have done it, but found out not long afterward that I would be finishing my master’s degree just a month too late. 

And I have to admit, while I’d love to go to space I’m not sure I’d want to go through the rigorous tests that astronauts-in-training have to do. If you’ve ever heard of the vomit comet or know anything about it, you’ll know just what I mean.

The mental training sounds incredibly difficult too. NASA has astronauts go through all kinds of simulations, and they design it to try to trick trainees into making mistakes! Talk about stressful! 

While these examples may not sound fun, you can still follow NASA’s example and test your ideas, products, and presentations as thoroughly as they do. Try practicing in an environment where you’ll perform, for one. Test your job interview skills with an intimidating friend and while wearing your suit, for example.

Keep trying everything you can think of to prepare, and push yourself to your limits. You’ll eventually get so good that nothing can go wrong when it’s time to perform!

Lesson 3: Even when you are doing well you need to look at your failures so you can learn from them and improve.

You’re working hard toward your goals, experiencing successes along the way. But inevitably, at some point, you stumble and fail. It’s one thing to follow the crowd and get up and try again, but it’s another to learn from the failure and adapt.

Follow James Dyson’s example when it comes to this. He failed 5,126 times over a decade and a half before he perfected his innovative bagless vacuum. Like Dyson, examining your mistakes can lead to success if you’re persistent. 

Sometimes, though, success can blind you to issues that may lead to catastrophic failure if not corrected. The story behind what caused the Challenger disaster shows how this can happen. 

NASA had been having problems with damaged O-rings for years before this tragedy killed seven astronauts. But because they’d never caused a problem, NASA simply wrote it off as a non-issue. 

If they had just listened to Roger Boisjoly, a mechanical engineer who continuously expressed concerns about the damaged O-rings, those seven astronauts may still be alive today.

Even if you succeed at something that doesn’t mean you didn’t make mistakes while doing it. Looking at what may have gone wrong, even when you’re winning, may save you from serious consequences. And make you successful even faster.

Think Like A Rocket Scientist Review

I couldn’t help but geek out at almost everything I learned from this book. It’s so awesome to be able to learn how to Think Like A Rocket Scientist from the experiences of rocket scientists! I’ve always thought that the problem-solving techniques engineers use are really applicable in all aspects of life, and I’m glad this book identified how.

Who would I recommend the Think Like A Rocket Scientist summary to?

The 53-year-old manager that wants to find better ways to innovate, the 28-year-old who has big hopes and dreams but struggles with fear, and anyone that’s curious how rocket science can help you reach your full potential!

Last Updated on September 21, 2022

Rate this book!
This book has an average rating of 3.9 based on 12 votes.

Luke Rowley

With over 450 summaries that he contributed to Four Minute Books, first as a part-time writer, then as our full-time Managing Editor until late 2021, Luke is our second-most prolific writer. He's also a professional, licensed engineer, working in the solar industry. Next to his day job, he also runs Goal Engineering, a website dedicated to achieving your goals with a unique, 4-4-4 system. Luke is also a husband, father, 75 Hard finisher, and lover of the outdoors. He lives in Utah with his wife and 3 kids.