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Why is Elon Musk So Successful?

It’s impossible to deny that Elon Musk is one of the most successful men of our current times. Between his endeavors with PayPal, Tesla, SpaceX, and cryptocurrency, it seems that everywhere you turn, Elon Musk’s influence can be found. In the way we pay for goods and services, in the future of the cars we drive, and even the boundaries of human travel, we find Musk’s considerable contributions.

The Reasons Behind His Success

But many of us are asking ourselves “why?” What particular skills, talents, attributes, or behaviors does Musk bring to the table that we aren’t?

The answer isn’t simple, of course.

Not many of us have the resources to start our own electric technology company, or devise an online payment center.

Tesla Cars, one of the creations of Elon Musk

Those are very niche subjects that require a significant amount of technological talent and teams of engineers. You’ll need a massive network, start-up capital like you can’t even imagine, and a highly detailed technical plan to get these types of businesses off of the ground. 

But at the end of the day, what Elon Musk is doing isn’t that much different than what you are doing. He is a business owner, albeit on an international, and perhaps soon galactic, scale, but a business owner, nonetheless. Why is Elon Musk so successful, and what about his path to immense wealth can be implemented on your own journey?

Let’s take a look at some of the keys to Musk’s success.

Read Also: Elon Musk’s Wikipedia Page.

Point One: Focus

According to many sources, Elon Musk is extraordinarily focused on his work.

one of the greatest qualities of elon musk is focus
Elon Musk, serial entrepreneur, at TED2013: The Young, The Wise, The Undiscovered. Wednesday, February 27, 2013, Long Beach, CA. Photo: James Duncan Davidson

He has commented before that he often worked 120 hour weeks when launching the Tesla Model 3. Given that there are only 168 hours in any seven day period, it would seem that Musk eschewed everything but work.

This type of focus goes beyond the ordinary level of prioritization. This is an entirely different state of being, known as a “flow state.”

Defined simply on Wikipedia as “the mental state in which a person performing some activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity”, a flow state is not an easy thing to accomplish. Just consider how many distractions you have in your typical day.

But what if you were able to remove those distractions or mental hurdles?

This takes sincere practice and a lot of external assistance from both people and automated processes, but it can be done. Imagine how much you could accomplish if you were to be able to focus completely on your business and solving problems until they were no longer a problem?

It’s almost a super-human talent, but it is possible to train your brain to focus in a flow state.

Read also: Key aspects to High-Performing Teams

Point Two: Passion

You were probably hoping this article would meander off into discussion on how to achieve a flow state, and in a way, it is.

You see, the level of focus Elon Musk demonstrates in his business dealings isn’t accomplished by simply putting on blinders and actively ignoring everything else. 

Instead, the secret to his focus is very likely his passion. He cares very much about every endeavor he undertakes, and therefore, the focus is generated out of this unquenchable passion for seeing his projects through to completion.

passion a great quality for achieving success

We’re always told that we should follow our dreams. Choose a career in a field you truly care about, and you’ll never be sorry. So you may wonder, which is Musk’s passion: electric cars, space exploration, or financial growth? 

The answer is none of the above. He’s fascinated by problem solving. In several interviews, Musk has indicated that he sees himself as an engineer, and that he strives to solve problems with practical, recreatable solutions that others can apply to their businesses. He’s focused on the future not just of his own business, but of the world as a whole. 

In a famous 2017 interview with Chris Anderson of TED Talk, Musk stated:

“I just think there have to be reasons why you get up in the morning and you want to live. What’s the point? What inspires you? What do you love about the future?”

And then he continued:

“I think the value of beauty and inspiration is very much underrated, no question. But I want to be clear, I’m not trying to be anyone’s savior. I’m just trying to think about the future and not be sad”.

Elon Musk’s passion isn’t in procuring large heaps of money. It’s about solving problems to help us advance to the future.

When you think about it with Musk’s lens, what is your passion? It may very well be “procuring large heaps of money”, but until you identify the exact epicenter of what gets you up in the morning and drives you to do what you do, you may not be fully connected to the passion that will drive your focus.

Read also: Are Leaders Born or Made?

Point Three: Think Big and Take Risks

Elon Musk did not reach his current level of success through little ideas and tiny change.

He dreams of colonizing Mars, electrifying all of the vehicles on the road, building vacuum tunnel trains, and alleviating human errors with artificial intelligence. These are big, expansive, world-changing ideas.

In fact, Musk finds “incrementalist” changes frustrating, but standard in our current business climate. Many business owners and corporate boards of directors are risk-averse, to a point where change happens much slower than it needs to in order to advance technology and human development.

Therefore, he recommends thinking bigger and taking bigger risks by imagining and exercising completely new ways of doing things.

He’s very concerned with spending time doing “stuff that’s going to matter,” over taking baby steps towards potential change.

After Musk sold off his holdings in PayPal in 2002, he had approximately $200 million to his name. Yet his new companies, SpaceX and Tesla, were struck with problem after problem, and then in 2008, the entire financial market crashed. He had a choice, in that he could keep the money and fold the companies, or put all of his money into the companies and create a possible opportunity for the future

It was a huge risk, and he had to borrow money from his friends for his personal living expenses, but it paid off. 

That’s not to say every big risk is going to pay off. The combination of his focus, passion, and detailed analysis of his business decisions surely played into how his big ideas have come to fruition.

However, it’s easy to see how big decisions may have bigger payoffs (or consequences) compared to the tiny “incrementalist” shifts that modern corporations implement today.

Read also: NLP: decoding the Science of the Perfection

Further Strength Points of Elon Musk

For many of us, working a 120 hour week may not be a realistic option. Each one of us encounters our own obstacles each day. But Elon Musk has not made his fortune by avoiding obstacles. Instead, he formulates a clear picture as to how to accommodate and overcome these obstacles. 

So while you may feel that none of these points apply to you, take a moment to reconsider the “what ifs”. What if you practiced a flow state? What if you designed your business around your motivation for waking up in the morning? What if your business allowed you to exercise all of your strongest talents?

And furthermore, what if you went for the long jump of ideas, instead of playing it safe with little tweaks here and minor adjustments there?

There are many different paths to success, but just what if you took a few cues from Elon Musk?

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