What is that that separates Elon Musk from the rest?
What can we learn from his mindset and attitude to help in our lives?
The Elon Musk Gift
Elon Musk is gifted. He is gifted intellectually. He can shut off from the world and go into a trance-like state when he is reading or working on something. Even as a kid, he consumed an entire library of books and tried to convince a librarian to order more books for him.
Elon honed this gift of being able to consume a tremendous amount of information and put it to use throughout his career.
What Drives Elon Musk?
To understand the reason why Elon Musk is relentless in his pursuit of excellence and doing the impossible, it helps to see things as how Elon sees.
According to Elon, every day when you wake up, you must look forward to a bright and promising future. To him, a future where humans can solve sustainable energy, become multi-planetary species with a sustaining civilization, and prevent the extinguishing of human consciousness is what is exciting. All his actions are aligned with these goals.
The Elon Musk Mindset
To understand the Elon Musk mindset, we’ve delved into his life to come up with four key aspects we think set him apart from others.
1. Do or Die but Never Give Up
The Elon Musk mindset of either doing or die trying is an invaluable asset. He exhibited the attitude even as a young founder in his first company, Zip2. As a bonding exercise when he went for a bike ride in the Santa Cruz Mountains with a few friends and employees of Zip2, the rest of the team reached the top and were waiting for Elon. After a few minutes, they saw him with his face red, sweat pouring out and torturing himself in the last few hundred feet of the climb. Elon’s cousin realized that Elon was not in the condition to bike and any other person would have given up, but not Elon. He never gave up.
Elon iterated this statement in his interview with CBSNews in 2012 when asked if he thought of packing it up when the third SpaceX launch failed, saying, “Never. I don’t ever give up. I’d have to be dead or completely incapacitated.”
Lesson: If you know what you’re doing is the right thing to do, then do not give up.
2. Work Your Ass Off, Literally!
Elon Musk works 80-100 hour weeks constantly. While working on something with a nearing deadline, he can work 100-120 hour weeks. At times, Elon even goes without any sleep for a couple of days to see a work through. Such is the dedication to his work.
According to J.B. Straubel, the CTO of Tesla, Elon came to the conclusion early in his career that life is short and hence the obvious conclusion that one should work hard as he/she can.
Check Out: Elon Musk Quotes
The long work hours take a toll on Elon Musk. This can be seen when Elon looks overweight and has deep shadow valleys under his eyes during the times he is overworked.
Lesson: We do not want to be crazy workaholics like Elon Musk. But this mindset of Elon is what separates him from the rest. He will not rest until the work is done.
3. The Answer Cannot be ‘No’
Elon Musk never takes ‘no’ for an answer. When he hears someone say some work cannot be done within a given cost or time, he will take the person off the project and take the responsibility of delivering the project himself while being the CEO of his companies. Every single time something like this happened, Elon Musk delivered on his word with the completed project.
A workplace demanding high work excellence as such might put off a few people. But, the Elon Musk mindset of never taking ‘no’ for an answer enables people to come up with unique solutions to problems and raises the benchmark for others.
Check Out: Elon Musk’s Biography
It is to be noted that this might not work for all situations. Elon Musk has an unmatchable drive that sets him apart from the rest. To expect others to have Muskian abilities at work might be asking too much. However, it is good to know that, not taking ‘no’ for answers will force one to think of unique ways to solve a problem and push the extent of one’s abilities.
Lesson: You might put off a lot of people if you’re too pushy and never ever take ‘no’ for an answer. But, it is good to exercise this ability to push yourself and others to think of unique ways to solve problems and grow as an individual and team.
4. No Time for Small Talk
Elon Musk has very little resistance for small talk. Even in social meetings, he would get up from the table and walk outside because he could not engage in small talk.
While this may rub people in a wrong way, Elon Musk reveled in intellectual conversations and did not mind leaving people to themselves to carry on their small talk.
Lesson: While it may seem brutal at times, in a social setting, to leave abruptly while people engage in small talk, it is worth noting that one can keep the small talk to the minimum and make use of their time productively. We do not recommend that you avoid the small talk with family and friends because that is the human part of living – forming bonds and relationships.
While trying to understand the Elon Musk mindset of doing the impossible, we’ve come to understand that it is through the talent that is nurtured, a grand purpose in life combined with characteristics like never giving up, working like hell, not taking ‘no’ for an answer, and not wasting time that one can take big and heavy strides towards making the seemingly impossible, possible!