Elon Musk might be uber-rich, but he wasn’t born with a silver spoon and perfect parents. It’s publicly known that Elon even views his dad as evil. He doesn’t have that same charisma that people like Steve Jobs had as well.
So what is it that made Elon Musk’s so successful? How was he able to do so well to start four multi-billion dollar businesses in completely different industries? Some people think it’s his work ethic and others think it’s his resilience but the problem with this is that so many other people have those same traits.
It all starts with his master plan and everything follows from there. We’ll be breaking down Elon Musk’s mindset and I’m gonna give you a 5-point action plan that will allow you to think like a genius.
- Have a vivid masterplan
- View things as stepping stones
- Focus on important things
- Figure out the question to ask
- Reverse-engineer complicated problems
Visualize Like Elon
Elon Musk has two photos of Mars on his office walls. They are one beside the other. One depicts Mars as it looks like now and the other depicts it as more Earth-like; full of blue oceans, continents, and clouds. This is how Elon wants Mars to look like one day.
Elon doesn’t view the world the way that most of us do he views it in images of what it could be.
As it says in his biography by Ashlee Vance,
He could see images in his mind’s eye with clarity and detail that we might associate today with an engineering drawing produced by computer software.
Having this kind of clarity is something that very few of us possess but just imagine what it would be like if you knew exactly what you were heading for and it was so exciting that it gives you more motivation than anyone else you know. We all know we should have that kind of a vision or a master plan but the real question is how do we get that?
Ever since he was a kid, Elon Musk had that natural tendency to daydream about his vision but most of us don’t have that. You can make up for this by literally scheduling in daydream sessions into your calendar.
You see, just like any old skill the more time you spend doing it the better you get at it and don’t just daydream. Consciously try and make it clearer and clearer. Picture specifics like how people will act and how you will feel and also get feedback about the vision. Speak with a friend and let them probe you and search you for more specific details
Doing these things will give you a much clearer vision which will help you achieve more things.
View Things As Stepping Stones
When you sit down and look at a vision that’s big, most people would feel overwhelmed and they wouldn’t know where to start. Ask yourself the question – how do you eat an elephant? The answer is simple, you eat it one bite at a time. Focus on one step at a time and do whatever is necessary to get to the next step. That is something that Musk started doing at a very young age.
Most people set goals they think they’re gonna be happy when they reach them. “When I lose that weight” or “When I earn this amount” and what happens is when they reach the goal they feel good for a few days and then everything settles back to normal and this is due to a concept called the hedonic treadmill or hedonic adaptation.
The hedonic treadmill, also known as hedonic adaptation, is the observed tendency of humans to quickly return to a relatively stable level of happiness despite major positive or negative events or life changes.
Viewed your goals as stepping stones to reaching your vision. The happiness will never fade because instead of just reaching your goal and returning back to normal you’re permanently closer towards your vision than you were before.
So now that it is clear that we should set stepping stones, how does Elon Musk actually start making progress towards those stepping stones?
Get more inspiration, read Superhuman Jocko Willink Quotes.
Focus On What’s Important
The most reliable way is to only focus on what is vitally important and then forget about the rest. We live in a world where it’s easy to get overwhelmed because there’s so much demand for our time and so many opportunities so we need to always focus on what’s important.
Elon Musk believes that in business there’s pretty much only one thing that’s important:
“I’d say focus on signal over noise. A lot of companies get confused that they spend money on things that don’t actually make the product better so for example at Tesla we’ve never spent any money on advertizing. We put all of the money into R&D, and manufacturing and design to try to make the car as good as possible”Elon Musk Quote
Tesla spends $0 on advertising compared to Volkswagen who spends six billion dollars yet in 2015 tesla grew more than 40 percent whereas Volkswagen shrunk significantly. Because Elon found what’s important in business he’s able to outperform all competitors.
Now that we know that we should focus on what’s important, how do we actually figure out what is important?
Both Einstein and Musk had an interesting approach to this. Musk points out that one of the really tough things is figuring out what questions to ask. Once you figure out the question then the answer is relatively easy and as Einstein said:
“If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on the solution I would spend the first 55 minutes determining the proper question to ask… for once I know the proper question I can solve the problem in less than five minutes”Albert Einstein
If you can figure out which question to ask then often the solution comes easily.
To unleash the genius of Elon and Einstein, use the mental model called reasoning from first principles.
First-principles thinking is one of the best ways to reverse-engineer complicated problems and unleash creative possibility. Sometimes called “reasoning from first principles,” the idea is to break down complicated problems into basic elements and then reassemble them from the ground up. It’s one of the best ways to learn to think for yourself, unlock your creative potential, and move from linear to non-linear results.
Related reading 15 Reasons Why You Should Get A Mentor ASAP.
This is the technique that allowed Elon to completely disrupt pretty much every field he’s ever entered and this is how it goes:
“I think it’s also important to reason from first principles rather by analogy so the normal way that we conduct our lives is we reason by analogy. We’re doing this because it’s like something else that was done or it’s like what other people are doing but first principles is kind of a physics way of looking at the world and what that really means is you kind of boil things down to the most fundamental truths and say okay what are we sure is true or sure as possible is true and then reason up from there.”Elon Musk – reasoning from first principles
Be the person your dog thinks you are. Use the 5-point action plan to solve all the biggest hurdles in front of you.
- Ashlee Vance “Elon Musk” – read on Blinkist
- Andrew Kirby “Elon Musk’s Motivation Secret” – watch on YouTube
- Farnham Street “First Principles: The Building Blocks of True Knowledge”