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If you think Elon Musk is your ordinary entrepreneur, think again. The New York Times described him as “arguably the most successful and important entrepreneur in the world.” I couldn’t agree more. We have compiled Elon Musk’s lesson for your inspiration.
Elon Musk has built seven successful companies behind his back that some have since sold out: The Boring Company, Solar City, Tesla Motors, PayPal (formerly X.com), an online bank, SpaceX, Neuralink, and Hyperloop. Indeed, you wouldn’t convince me there’s nothing you can’t learn from such a massively successful person.
But at the center of all this, Elon doesn’t see himself as a business magnate or entrepreneur. Thanks to his background in engineering, science, and self-learning computer programming, he sees himself as more of a technologist.
Elon is a gifted engineer, and at one of his numerous interview sessions, this is what he had to say about his engineering skills, “I’m a naturally gifted engineer because I inherited it from my father.” So apart from his natural talent and abilities, is there anything in Elon’s life that could inspire you?
We draw some of Elon Musk’s lessons you could find helpful in your entrepreneurial pursuits. Keep reading:
Elon Musk’s Lessons
In life, we read books written by intelligent people, but we also study their lives. Luckily, we have living examples of successful people in their fields.
We could learn a thing or two from their successes. Let’s delve deeper into Elon Musk’s lessons.
1. Avoid Wishful Thinking
According to Elon Musk, most people engage in wishful thinking instead of approaching problems and solving them logically.
Though you may not be a scientist yourself like him, you could use his scientific method of coming up with an idea, starting a business, or simply solving a problem. In his pursuits, here is how Elon uses his scientific approach some in his own words
- Pause a question
- Gather as much evidence around the question
- Develop hypotheses and assign a probability of truth to each piece of evidence.
- Draw a conclusion based on cogency: Delve deeper logically, clearly, and convincingly regarding your axioms to draw a conclusion.
- Attempt to disprove the conclusion.
- You are probably right if nobody is invalidating your conclusion but not absolutely correct.
According to Musk, most people make conclusions based on what others are doing or aren’t doing, which isn’t the right approach. His maxim is that you should always start on a clean slate, and you shouldn’t accept any standards or practices just because other people are doing them. To Elon, it’s not about reinvention but creating the best.
2. Elon Musk’s Lessons: Our Personalities are 80% Nature and 20% Nurture.
Elon Musk was born to a South African Engineer father, Errol Musk, and a Canadian-born model and dietician mother, Maye Musk.
Elon Musk admits he rarely saw his parents around in his childhood years. All he had around was a housekeeper who was to watch him against breaking stuff in the home.
At this stage, Elon began devouring lots of books, making explosives, and building rockets. At the age of 10, Elon was reading books that would fuel his passion for SpaceX today.
Later on, Elon’s parents split, and he and his siblings went to live with their mother. But later on, Mark felt sorry for his dad and decided to offer him company in Lone Hills, Johannesburg. He later regrets this decision.
Elon said this of his father, “He was such a terrible human being.”
Elon was the youngest and smallest kid in class for quite a long time because of being a late bloomer. This didn’t go well with the school bullies who always targeted him. According to Musk, gangs in school could literally hunt him down for a taste of what they love doing.
Elon had to learn to fight back. He enrolled in Karate and Judo classes for self-defense and went on to take the bullies down. At 17, Elon moved to Canada, his mother’s home country, and later organized for his mother and siblings to join him, But it seems this didn’t go well with his father.
The latter, as Elon recalls, “He said rather contentiously that I’d be back in three months, that I’m never going to make it, that I’m never going to make anything of myself. He called me an idiot all the time. That’s the tip of the iceberg, by the way.”
3. Know what you want and Pursue it
Elon Musk graduated in 1997 from the University of Pennsylvania with a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics and a B.A. degree in Physics. He later joined Stanford University for a Doctorate in Materials science but dropped it two days later.
Having been fascinated by the tech innovations at Silicon Valley, Elon decided to launch an internet startup. The rest is history. It became clear that Elon was set for other essential things, including the internet, artificial intelligence, Space exploration, and renewable energy.
His fears of human extinction and a lonely childhood contributed immensely to his entrepreneurial interests. In one interview, Elon had this to say about making the world a better place, “It would be better if we mitigated the effects of global warming and had cleaner air in our cities and weren’t drilling for vast amounts of coal, oil, and gas in parts of the world that are problematic and will run out anyway.
“And if we were a multiplanetary species, that would reduce the possibility of some single event, man-made or natural, taking out civilization as we know it, as it did the dinosaurs. There have been five mass-extinction events in the fossil record. People have no comprehension of these things. Unless you’re a cockroach or a mushroom – or a sponge – you’re fucked.” He goes on, “It’s insurance of life as we know it, and it makes the future far more inspiring if we are out there among the stars and you could move to another planet if you wanted to.”
3. Work hard and Work Very Smart
Here is one of Elon Musk’s quotes in 2015, “Work like Hell. I mean you just have to put in 80-to-100 hour weeks every week. This improves the odds of success. If other people are putting in 40 hour workweeks and you are putting in 100 hour workweeks, then even if you are doing the same thing, you know that you will achieve in four months what it takes them a year to achieve.”
The truth is, Elon Musk’s lessons, like in the quote, seem superhuman. The traditional work hours for most companies is 8-10 hrs. If we break 100-hour workweeks into workdays, we talk about 14-16 hours of hard work daily.
This is no mean feat to anyone, considering that life isn’t all about working.
On the contrary, you will be way ahead of so many people should you choose this path. The gist of this is that you don’t need to do what Elon Musk recommends, but you can go the extra mile above the average Joe.
That in itself sets you up for entrepreneurial success.
5. Connect Ideas
If you want to know where the future is headed, watch Elon Musk. Right from Space exploration, electric cars, and computers in the human brain, you can feel his energy and innovativeness.
Elon is not only intelligent but incredibly good at connecting ideas. Even though sometimes we may feel all our ideas have been explored in the past, that’s not the Elon Musk Spirit.
As said earlier, he starts everything on a clean slate. Add to this his creative ability to connect ideas. For instance, he connects traveling around the world with space exploration and renewable energy.
Talk about what he is doing at Neuralink. His ideas are off the books but worth exploring. Sometimes, all you need is to connect ideas and come up with something meaningful.
Even the craziest of ideas could turn you into a million-dollar business in the years to come. For instance, if you want to start a business or invest, there are many investment vehicles and business opportunities to consider.
See how to connect ideas to get yourself what you want.
6. Work with the Best People you can Find
There is no doubt in your skills and ability to achieve whatever it is you want to achieve. However, having a great team to help you accomplish your goal is of the essence.
That’s another one of Elon Musk’s lessons. You want to make sure that you get the best talent to drive your vision and goals forward. Not doing this right could cost you a lot in terms of time and resources.
At SpaceX HQ in California, Elon Musk has a team of the best engineers who help him execute his space exploration ambitions. Occasionally, his aerospace engineers sync up with him on the latest projects that Elon has to offer his final thoughts on.
If you are an entrepreneur or business leader, you want to have the best team in place. This will even mean doing the interviews yourself to get the best team on board.
Your friends and loved ones are important people to you, but you need to assess whether they are the right people for your business or entrepreneurial endeavors.
7. Keep Learning
Elon Musk is one human being with a crazy thirst for knowledge. Forget about your college degree for a moment. This is about adding value to your life so that you can be more valuable in the marketplace.
Here is one of Elon Musk’s quotes that I find inspiring. “I read books and talked to people. I mean, that’s kind of how one learns anything. There’s a lot of great books out there and lots of smart people.”
Elon is ever experimenting with ideas about technology from the many books he reads. Finishing school doesn’t limit you from expanding your knowledge. Reading is how you get ahead of the masses by helping you acquire first-hand knowledge.
Do you have a reading habit or a personal study program? Start your journey to personal growth by equipping yourself with knowledge.
One of Elon’s Musk formulas is, “build things upwards based off the deepest and most simple physics concepts.” Sometimes, to solve complex problems, you need to go through the basics of concepts that people are running away from in the manuals.
8. Dream Big and Think Outside the Box
You need to look at companies Elon Musk has built and established over the years. They have revolutionized life in one way or the other.
His billion-dollar products have had a lasting impact on the industries they are created in. PayPal, for example, revolutionized the way we transact money, taking the financial sector to a digital level.
You can quickly transfer money to any part of the world via PayPal. While people were still talking about fuel vehicles, Elon brought up Tesla motor vehicles that entirely rely on electricity.
Sooner or later, shuttling to space will be a thing of the past, courtesy of his big dreams and thinking out of the box.
For the record, he decided to fund the SpaceX project using his money after investors dismissed the idea terming it a daydream. Even worse, everyone around him dismissed the project, but he chose to believe in his dreams.
That is Elon Musk in a few words, but there is a lot that could be written about the successful entrepreneur.
We hope Elon Musk’s lessons fuel you up to pursue your entrepreneurial dreams and be a great person and achiever like him or even better.
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