When we hear the term game changer, many personalities come to mind, but perhaps none epitomize this term better than Elon Musk does. “Reality is always controlled by the people who are the most insane,” is a famous quote from Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert comics. Honestly though, who fits this quote better than the eccentric serial entrepreneur Elon Musk! PayPal, Tesla, SpaceX and SolarCity have and are still transforming the way the world functions. Be it in business or in life, there are some golden lessons we can pick up from this modern day game changer.
Probably the most important lesson we can pick up from Elon Musk is to work with a strong sense of purpose. While it is important to have clear goals and big dreams, without a strong intrinsic motivation to back them, your dreams could fall flat. Ask the all-important question of why you want to do what you hope to achieve. Here’s getting into the mind of Elon Musk as he moved on from PayPal – “Going from PayPal, I thought:‘Well, what are some of the other problems that are likely to most affect the future of humanity?’ Not from the perspective, ‘What’s the best way to make money?” Now that is a strong sense of purpose.
Surprisingly, Elon Musk admits that he fears failure but also endorses that it is ok to fail in the process of trying to accomplish your goals as long as you move past them. His ability to make peace with failure probably stems from his ability to think big and take bigger risks. Imagine trying to build an electric car that could give any other luxury car a run for its money or trying to reduce the commute between New York to L.A. to less than an hour. There are bound to be several failed attempts in accomplishing such goals. In his interview with 60 Minutes, Musk confides that he thought he would most likely fail with Tesla.
Yes we failed and we moved past the failure but what’s even more challenging is to come back with a renewed vigor. Here’s where that strong sense of purpose acts as a springboard to help us get back on our feet. It’s quite simple, “If something is important enough, even if the odds are against you, you should still do it.” Commit yourself to success and never look back once you make that commitment. Another tactic that many use is writing down their goals and sharing them with others, an oft-cited study done by Gail Matthew’s at Dominican University of California has shown this to increase one’s resolve and follow-through in achieving the goal.
Image courtesy of Elon Musk’s Twitter
In early June in this year, Tesla opened up its patents to its competitors and in the process it stunned its competitors. Indirectly, Musk was declaring Tesla technology the standard for the future electric car market and in the process attracted more investment to the nascent electric car market! While his blog says that the move comes in the spirit of the open source movement and the advancement of the electric car industry (a strong sense of purpose!), he has also gone on to forge strategic partnerships. For example, he is in talks with executives from BMW about sharing the cost of building recharging stations and creating a common infrastructure.
By releasing the patents for Tesla, Elon Musk has put pressure on himself and his people to get ahead of the innovation curve and stay there! He has worked with a sense of urgency to accelerate the move from fossil fuels to sustainable technology. To date, he not only pushes the boundaries of innovation in the electric car sector but also does so faster than most anybody else can. They say that lack of time and resources can breed creativity, and Elon Musk has repeatedly delivered under the pressure of time and resource constraints, particularly with his famed save of SpaceX.
If you enjoyed this post, be sure to check out our post on the 50 Game Changers in Business!