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Early Years Of Elon Musk

  • Right from childhood, Elon Musk preferred books over people, often devouring them at one go.
  • He was an introvert and a deep thinker and began to gather deep insights about life and how to shape humanity and the future of mankind.
  • Musk eventually developed a practical and efficient approach towards goals and carried the drive to follow through.

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Failure As A Tool

If we look at the number of failures and setbacks in Elon Musk’s life, we begin to see why he is so successful.

The Tesla and Space X CEO uses failure as a tool towards eventual success, if at all. It is a non-linear path to innovation, which involves starting from the first principle, which is obtained by breaking down all the unessential parts and getting down to the fundamental truth.

Elon Musk shows the world how big, audacious goals can be achieved by dividing them into smaller milestones and embracing failure and negative feedback.

His goals are not something he is doing for the media circus, but something in which he is emotionally committed. Goals work when they are bigger than ourselves, enhancing our commitment and responsibility towards them.

Most long-term goals are intimidating, and the mind can feel overwhelmed, resulting in demotivation. If the goal is too easy, the mind feels bored.

The optimum state of productivity, known as ‘flow’ occurs when the activity in question is reasonably challenging, but not too hard. Slicing the larger mission into smaller milestones which have the right amount of challenge makes one enjoy the process and stay on track.

  • Failure is generally looked down upon but is necessary for success.
  • Failure is a learning mechanism that eliminates what didn’t work and provides a clear path towards a way to achieve success.
  • Fear of failure is what kills motivation, as we believe it is an outcome to avoid, and do not look at it as a tool to harness.

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RELATED IDEAS

The only way to master creativity is to put in the work. At the beginning, your work will be subpar and all the more daunting because the result is a tangible output, like a painting or a research paper.

One way to overcome this difficulty is to realise that a genius worked on more than one piece before they created a masterpiece. Einstein published over 300 scientific papers and more than 150 non-scientific papers. His non-published work contained more than 30,000 unique documents, and he wasn't always right.

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IDEAS

  • When novice players play chess, they focus on what to do with the pieces. They may try and visualise a few steps ahead, but mostly just react to the board without considering the reasons behind the pieces.
  • Professional chess players focus on how their opponents think. They seek to ask the right questions to understand their opponent's process.

Whether in chess or life, don't be fooled by what's on the surface. The best approach is to have a framework in place to trim the fat and focus on what matters. Ask enough pointed questions to lead you to clear answers.

When the most successful people were interviewed in the 1990s, they all shared one commonality: They were incredibly complex people. They were both differentiated and integrated.

They were differentiated because they took it on themselves to get exposed to the world. They were integrated because they learned to make sense of this diverse absorption.