When it comes to business, few have been more successful at it than Elon Reece Musk. Born in 1971, the South African-born, and a Canadian-American entrepreneur is nothing short of a genius having built four multi-billion dollar companies, each in a different field.
He is the CEO of SpaceX, an aerospace manufacturing and space transport company, Tesla Motors, a company that manufactures electric vehicles and solar panels, Neuralink, a neuro-technology company and last but not the least, The Boring Company, which deals in geotechnical engineering.
Musk made it to the Forbes list of “America’s 20 most powerful CEOs 40 and under” in 2011 and was ranked twenty-first on the Forbes list of The World’s Most Powerful People in December 2016. Musk believes in the principle of “learning transfer” which implies taking what you learn in one area and applying it to another area.
Here are six lessons we can all learn from Elon Musk to take our businesses, careers and personal lives to the next level. So, gear up! Let’s go to Mars!
1. Always think long-term
If you are aiming to be successful, you have to adjust your vision a little wider to accommodate the long term. Elon Musk believes if you want to be successful in business, you must go in with a long-term plan.
Having a clear vision of where you’re headed coupled with proper planning will not only increase your chances of success, it will also help you to adjust as circumstances demand. To sum it up, Elon Musk once said in an interview “When I was in college, I wanted to be involved in things that would change the world. Now I am.”
When I was in college, I wanted to be involved in things that would change the world. Now I am.
Just in case you’re wondering, “changing the world” is not a far-fetched phrase. You don’t need a lot of resources to change the world; you need only start with yourself, by setting goals to change yourself each day and consciously making efforts to reach them.
2. Stay Focused and Persistent
You cannot underestimate the power of focus. You need focus and persistence if you’re to be successful at anything. This is simple conventional wisdom. Elon Musk emphasises on focusing on the right things.
For example, Musk claims his company, Tesla, has never spent money on ads, opting instead to spend their money on product development. You would think that with a net worth of $20.8 billion, he would definitely rest on his laurels, that is far from the truth. Elon Musk has no intention of slowing down. The serial entrepreneur constantly strives to improve by seeking criticism and questioning himself.
Persistence is very important, you must never give up unless you’re forced to.
After defining your goals, you should keep distractions at bay by focusing on the right things; seeking ways to improve yourself, your product and deliver value in the best way possible. Also, to quote Mr. Musk, “Persistence is very important, you must never give up unless you’re forced to.“ Take this from a man whose dream is to have humans on Mars. Nothing is impossible!
3. Do not be afraid to fail
Everyone has experienced failure at one point in their lives or another. Elon Musk is no different. Musk believes greatness doesn’t lie in being fearless in the first place, but rather in overcoming them. Elon has had close shaves with failure and bankruptcy several times with Space X, Tesla and a lot of other companies he has invested in. Fear is normal and failure is finite, its having the tenacity and persistence to continue that stands you out from the crowd.
4. Never tire of learning
It is no secret that gaining knowledge is imperative for success. Elon was bullied as a kid and this must have led him to turn to reading as a form of escape. He taught himself computer programming at the age of 12. He is always seeking to gain knowledge and understand concepts. He is also self-taught in rocket science. He has credited his success to his approach to learning, amongst other things.
Elon Musk emphasises mastering the fundamentals of any given subject. He uses a model he calls “first principles”. According to Musk, “it is very important to view knowledge as sort of a metaphoric tree, as such make sure you get to understand the basic principles, i.e. the root and big branches before you get into the leaves or there will be nothing to hang on to”. You should develop a “know-it-all-attitude” as this would enable you to draw ideas from different areas and apply them to real world problems.
5. Cultivate a good work ethic
This may come as a surprise but Elon Musk works 100 hours a week and has been doing so for years! He believes in working twice as hard as others. Doing this, he says, and quite truly, will guarantee more than twice the normal result. Elon pushes himself real hard, it is no wonder he has achieved a huge amount of success at such a young age. Success comes when you’re able to make able to make sacrifices and hard decisions for the greater good. This shouldn’t be much of a problem if you’re doing what you love.
6. Think outside the box
Here’s an interesting fact- Elon Musk started Space X with his own money after being turned down by investors who saw the company as a pipe dream. Musk is always ready to go against established tradition, coming up with unique ideas backed up with proper research. Developing an innovative mindset like Elon Musk’s will help in improving your problem-solving skills and thus stand you out from the crowd.
Elon Musk is not called the real-life Tony Stark by the media for nothing. His unique traits such as striving to change humanity, staying focused by doing the right things, having a contingency plan for failure, endless learning, innovative thinking, strong work ethic and persistence has helped him to build an empire and if adopted, can work for you as well.