There isn’t a person who would turn down the chance to learn from Elon Musk. His career is varied but consistently excellent, and he does things that most people can only dream about. This is part of what makes him a fantastic entrepreneur and leader and makes his work and life a great example.
For people who don’t know, Elon Musk is one of the most creative and innovative men on the planet. He has dedicated his life to innovation, to creating new technologies to benefit the world. This has led him to create good cars for the environment and 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 interested in.
So, what can you learn from a creator like Elon Musk?
- Be eccentric
- Connect ideas
- Follow your interests
- Learn constantly
- Assemble a great team
- Seek out criticism
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, 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 ignore those criticizing you.
It can sometimes feel as if every idea has already been thought of, every innovation made. But Elon Musk’s work shows the value of combining two disparate ideas to create 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 soon.
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 your life.
Follow your interests
Elon Musk is interested in various things and 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 Elon’s interests, his empire expanded, and even more importantly, he developed further his skill set.
Too often, we’re told to specialize and narrow our field of study until we find the one thing we can bring to the world. And we’re never told that we don’t have to do that. But instead, learning new things teaches us new skills and ways to interact with the world. And as Elon Musk’s success shows, this can be of great benefit to our own lives and the planet’s future.
What are you interested in? What interests have you left behind because you’re too busy or not profitable enough? You never know when something might suddenly bear fruit, so make room for the things you enjoy. You can set good habits to ensure this actually gets done. Consciously following your interests like this will make you far more interesting and well-rounded 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. He believes in constantly bettering himself, whether it’s through extensive reading, or by experimenting with new technologies and techniques. This habit is vitally essential for business and life success. It’s shared by the most highly successful people and can quickly 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 too tired to feel it, set up a self-study program to encourage you to keep learning. This is probably one of the best ways to foster constant personal growth and prepare you for success in your career.
Assemble a great team
You can do it better with a great team, no matter what you need to do. Elon Musk in this research says hiring the wrong person for a job can be catastrophic in terms of the amount of money and time wasted. It pays to interview new employees personally to ensure they are hired according to your requirements and vision.
If you’re a business leader or an entrepreneur looking to expand your business, this is a valuable tip to succeed. However, it can also apply to other parts of your life.
Look at the people around you. Of course, your friends and family are the teams that will support your life. But do they help you achieve your goals? Do they make you feel good about yourself or assist you somehow? If both of these are no, why are you spending time with them?
Seek out criticism
Most people are afraid of criticism, but Elon Musk seeks it out to improve his business and his ideas. In his own words, he claims, “Constantly seek criticism. A well-thought-out critique of your actions is as valuable as gold.” Criticism can teach you what you’re lacking if taken in the right spirit. It can show you the weaknesses you need to change. It can also be the difference between success and absolute failure in life and business.
To apply this in your life, ask people you trust for feedback about the critical areas in your life. Ensure 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 their problems. Are their points valid? Did you know about the weaknesses or issues they mentioned? What can you do about them?
Reason your way from zero
Elon Musk believes you need to start to solve a problem from the beginning. This means stripping away conventional wisdom, things everybody knows, and looking at it with new eyes. This is called the First Principles Mindset. His mindset is unique, powerful, and challenging 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 vital 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 difficulty 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, inventions, and interests. But there is more about how he lives his life that you should admire, including being himself and following his interests and passions. And he is wildly successful, perhaps because of these strengths. What can you learn from his example?
Plan For Downturns
Elon may appear like he just wings it through everything, and success finds him – but that’s not true. He makes tough decisions in business to get through economic downturns.
For example, Elon has bought Twitter and fired half of its staff. Think of what the drop in payroll is worth and how it will grow cash reserves that can see the business through tougher trading periods. Twitter was losing $4M a day! That’s $1424M a year.
Firing 50% of its staff saves $400M annually, so that’s around a third of losses sorted. It’s not just about reducing expenses – sales from ad revenue have taken a big hit. All the big social media networks are reporting drops in ad revenue. The loss of third-party data is surely one explanation.
His latest advice to businesses preparing for recessions and sales downturns is to make the calls that provide resiliency and consumer confidence. Sell what consumers need. Keep healthy cash reserves.