There isn’t a person in the world who would turn down the chance to learn from Elon Musk. His career is varied, but always amazing, and he does things that most people can only dream about. This is part of what makes him such an amazing entrepreneur and leader, and what makes his work and life a great example to learn from.
For people who don’t know, Elon Musk is one of the most creative and innovative men on the planet at the moment. He has dedicated his life to innovation, to creating new technologies to benefit the world. This has led him to work to create cars that are good for the environment, and to work on vehicles for space travel. There seems to be, quite literally, nothing in the realm of technology and ideas that this man isn’t not interested in.
So, what can you learn from a creator like Elon Musk?
Just be eccentric
Elon Musk is known as an eccentric, and he both accepts that label and seems to use it. Over the last few years alone, he’s proposed setting off nuclear bombs on Mars to make it habitable, that showering is the key to his success, and has guest starred on the Big Bang Theory as himself. As a child, Elon Musk was badly bullied for his differences. Now he uses them to move his business forward, and even to have a little fun in his life. This is a great lesson for life, that sometimes the things that set you apart as a child can become your greatest strengths as an adult.
Have you been hiding yourself, or part of yourself, for fear that people will judge or reject you? Perhaps it’s time to bring that part of yourself into the light, and to ignore those who would judge you for it.
It can sometimes feel as if every idea has already been thought, every innovation made. But Elon Musk’s work shows the value of joining together two disparate ideas to make something new. His work connects space travel with travel around the world, conservation with cars and the human brain with computers. Some of these ideas might seem off the wall, but they’re also incredibly innovative and will probably become a reality in the near or distant future.
Do you sometimes worry that you have no new ideas? Start connecting old ideas in new ways to find new and better solutions. You can start doing this just by dreaming. Do you need a new car? Think of ten ways you can get one, from winning the lotto to hiring a car from a friend to working from home so you don’t need it. Nothing is too outlandish. This will encourage your brain to connect ideas in new ways and get you used to a more expansive way of thinking that will benefit every part of your life.
Follow your interests
Elon Musk is interested in a wide variety of things, and he has shamelessly followed those interests. His main field of interest is technology, but he’s used this interest to delve into the realms of space travel, the internet, sustainable energy and transportation. And with each of his interests his empire has expanded, and even more importantly, his skillset and understanding of the world has expanded as well.
Too often we’re told to specialize, to narrow our field of study until we find the one thing that we can bring to the world. And we’re never told that we don’t have to do that. Learning new things teaches us new skills, new ways to interact with the world. And as Elon Musk’s success shows, this can be of great benefit both to our own lives and to the future of the planet itself.
What are you interested in? What interests have you left behind because you’re too busy or they’re not profitable enough? You never know when something might suddenly bear fruit, so make room in your life for the things you enjoy. You can do this by setting good habits to make sure this actually gets done. Consciously following your interests like this will make you a far more interesting and well-rounded person than you would be if you just worked all the time.
Learning shouldn’t end when you leave school or university, and Elon Musk is a fantastic example of this. He believes in constantly bettering himself, whether it’s through extensive reading, or by experimenting with new technologies and techniques. This habit is vitally important for business and life success. It’s shared by most extremely successful people and can easily and cheaply become a regular part of your daily schedule.
Continue to learn, even after you’ve left school. You can do this by creating a reading habit and allowing your curiosity to lead you down rabbit holes. If you’re not naturally curious, or you’re too tired to feel it, set up a self-study program that will encourage you to keep learning. This is probably one of the best ways to foster constant personal growth and prepare you for success in whatever career you choose.
Assemble a great team
No matter what you need to do, you can do it better with a great team. And according to Elon Musk that means hiring people who can really do the job as well as fit with the established team. Research shows that hiring the wrong person for a job can be catastrophic in terms of the amount of money and time wasted. That’s why Elon Musk often interviews new employees himself, to make sure he gets people who can do the job to his standards and keep up with his vision.
If you’re a business leader or an entrepreneur looking to expand your business, this is a valuable tip if you want to succeed. However, it can also apply to other parts of your life.
Look at the people around you. Your friends and family are the team that will support your life. Do they help you achieve your goals? Do they make you feel good about yourself or support you in some way? If the answer to both of these is no, then why are you spending time with them?
Seek out criticism
Most people are afraid of criticism, but Elon Musk seeks it out as a way to improve his business and his ideas. In his own words, he claims “Constantly seek criticism. A well thought out critique of whatever you’re doing is as valuable as gold.” Criticism, if taken in the correct spirit, can teach you what you’re lacking. It can show you the weaknesses you need to change. It can also be the difference between success and absolute failure in life and in business.
To apply this in your life, ask people you trust for feedback about the important areas in your life. Make sure that you’re in the right frame of mind beforehand, so you don’t take things personally, and ask for complete honesty. Clarify the points they make, to ensure that you understand what they’re saying, and then seriously consider the problems they mention. Are their points valid? Did you know about the weaknesses or problems they mentioned? What can you do about them?
Reason your way from zero
Elon Musk believes that when you need to solve a problem, you need to start from the beginning. This means stripping away conventional wisdom, things that everybody ‘knows’ and looking at it with new eyes. This is called the First Principles Mindset. His mindset is unique, powerful and difficult to do. We all come with biases and assumptions, conscious or unconscious, and it can be nearly impossible to unearth and eliminate them from your decision making process.
The next time you have an important decision to make, leave behind everything you think you know. Write it down if you’re having trouble separating assumption from fact, sometimes we have trouble seeing our own biases. And gather rational, unbiased facts before you make up your mind.
The number one thing you can take away from this
Elon Musk is trying to save the world with his mind, his inventions and his interests. But there is more about the way he lives his life that you should admire. He is unashamedly himself. He follows his interests and his passions. And he is wildly successful, perhaps because of these strengths. What can you learn from his example?