WILL you ever start a company that literally changes the course of humanity? Most probably not, but why not? There is one man who did.
Elon Musk is arguably the most impressive living human being on earth. His track record includes founding three, billion dollar companies — SpaceX to discover “interplanetary co-existence”; Tesla on “transforming sustainable energy for humanity,” and he co-founded Paypal, which revolutionized online payment.
There is one thing that makes Musk fundamentally different from other entrepreneurs, he doesn’t care that he’s worth billions, he only wants to solve bigger, worldly problems like the existence of humanity — create sustainable energy, provide clean transportation, and discover interplanetary space travel.
Let’s get inside his brand and see what makes him tick? In this article, David Ly Khim from blog.hubspot.com wrote about “6 Lessons From Elon Musk That Changed My Life,” to unravel his success psychology.
LESSON 1: Seek criticism endlessly
Most people dislike criticism at the beginning, but it slowly shapes us into better people. Musk’s approach is different, by assuming he is wrong in the beginning, and his goal is to be less wrong.
Musk said: “When I spoke with someone about Tesla Model S, I didn’t really want to know what’s right about the car. I want to know what’s wrong about the car,
“When my friends get a product, I asked them don’t tell me what they like. Rather, tell me what you don’t like. And if I’ve asked that a few times, people will automatically start telling me, without me having to ask the question.”
While compliments create contentment, Musk proves that criticism creates improvement.
LESSON 2: Challenge reality, by understanding the fundamentals.
It is true that you can’t solve problems with the same thinking that caused them, as Einstein once said. For example, when Musk was building Tesla, people said battery packs are expensive to make and that’s how it is.
Then Musk realizes the cost can be dramatically reduced, if you build your own batteries, by breaking it down into fundamental components such as: cobalt, nickel, aluminum, carbon, polymers, and a steel can. This led to his recent project, Tesla Energy — a revolutionary energy storage for sustainable homes and businesses. Instead of saying that’s how it is, and how it’s always been, ask tough questions and explore the fundamental truths behind the challenges in your life.
LESSON 3: Focus on signal over noise
Steve Jobs once said: “Deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do.” Musk isn’t the only billionaire preaching the power of focus. In fact, he would rather minimally promote an incredible product than promote a mediocre one.
“At Tesla, we’ve never spent any money on advertising. We’ve put all our money into R&D, engineering, design, and manufacturing to build the best car possible.”
And if the activity does not result in a better product, stop it.
It’s better to narrow down to “the one thing” principle, which drives the hyper-growth of companies such as Tesla, PayPal, and Facebook.
LESSON 4: People are afraid of failure, so make it an option (by defining a contingency plan).
Think about it, most inaction is caused by fear. If you’re starting a company for interplanetary exploration… failure is a viable option. So instead of throwing in the towel, Musk anticipated failure and created a contingency plan for SpaceX.
He said: “If we don’t get the first SpaceX rocket launch to succeed by the time we’ve spent $100 million, we will stop the company. That will be enough for three attempted launches.”
As predicted, the first launch failed $30 million later, and then it failed again $60 million later. However, on the third attempt, SpaceX’s launch was a success, which helped it to win a $1.6 billion contract from NASA for 12 resupply flights to the station.
Was Elon Musk afraid of failure? Absolutely, but he created a contingency plan to address the possible failure, and that’s exactly what put his rockets into space.
LESSON 5: Remove worries (by living the worst-case scenario)
Another way to remove fear is by literally putting yourself in the bad situation, and dealing with your emotions.
At 17 years old, when Musk Musk decided he wanted to be an entrepreneur, he forced himself to live off $1 per day, mainly on hot dogs and oranges.
He didn’t do it because he was poor, but to see if he had what it takes to become an entrepreneur. And since he was successful with the experiment, he knew that money wouldn’t be an issue, when he ventured into business.
“I figured that if I could live off a dollar a day, then at least, from a food standpoint, it’s pretty easy to earn $30 a month.”
LESSON 6: Solve Problems Beyond Yourself
When looking for a job, many people focus on salary and the benefits, but do we ask the bigger question, like how are we making an impact in the world? Are we using today’s resources to solve tomorrow’s problems?
When Musk Musk left his high-position job in PayPal, he asked himself, “Well, what are some of the problems that are likely to affect the future of humanity?”
In every interview, he aims to solve problems not to improve his world, but the world. For example, SpaceX’s goal was to make humanity into a multi-planetary species. And Tesla’s goal was to accelerate the world’s movement towards having most electric cars.
“If something is important enough, even if the odds are against you, you should still do it,” said Musk.
Here, in a nutshell, are the six key lessons that make Elon Musk a successful entrepreneur: Encourage criticism. Dissect the fundamentals. Focus on high-impact activities. Push yourself to failure. Challenge your limits, and most importantly, solve problems beyond yourself.
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