6 Amazing Pieces of Wisdom from Elon Musk

Elon Musk at Work
Photo: SpaceX

1. “Work like hell. I mean you just have to put in 80 to 100 hour weeks every week. [This] improves the odds of success. If other people are putting in 40 hour work weeks and you’re putting in 100 hour work weeks, then even if you’re doing the same thing you know that… you will achieve in 4 months what it takes them a year to achieve.”

This man is the epitome of what is probably the most common advice from any successful person. Work hard. Really hard. As a basic rule. This is the standard for Musk. He and his brother started Paypal when they lived and worked in a tiny office and showered at a local gym. The man has come a long way from those days, and he didn’t do so by Netflix and chill…

2.“If something is important enough, even if the odds are against you, you should still do it.”

Believing in himself, his ideas, and pursuing his passions are what have made Musk a great man. Not many people jump from online payment company to space innovation, but this is proof that passion should be the one thing that drives your career choices. Musk is known for making career decisions not to make billions or dominate an industry, but to change the future of humanity. Making a difference is important to him, and it may make him sound a little crazy, but his successes speak for himself.

3. “Failure is an option here. If things are not failing, you are not innovating enough.”

These two work hand in hand. It has long been known that academics, analysts, companies and individuals that learning to embrace failure is a crucial step to success (one of the best books I have read in recent years was Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s Antifragile that considers this in terms of the global economy). It is in the face of adversity where we are often forced to prove ourselves. The bar gets raised and we have no option but to jump higher. What Musk is stressing here is that failure and innovation work hand in hand. You must utilise failure to find the inevitable cracks in your work, and reinforce them with new knowledge.

Photo: Dan Taylor/Heisenberg Media
Photo: Dan Taylor/Heisenberg Media

 4. “You want to be extra rigorous about making the best possible thing you can. Find everything that’s wrong with it and fix it. Seek negative feedback, particularly from friends.”

Use the people around you to critique your work. Present your ideas, batten down the hatches, and then let your colleague or relative or best mate rip into you. Make sure they poke at every whole, so you know where your weak points are. You’re playing a losing game if you think your own ideas are faultless. The negative connotations around criticism are starting to change in the modern business world, but people are still holding on too tightly and too personally to an idea. If you want it to withstand the rest of the worlds criticisms, make sure you give it a trial run with those you trust first.

5. “Don’t be afraid of new arenas.”

Often what holds us back is the fear of the unknown. Particularly with modern innovations, they are very rarely only limited to the fields that we know. Even the fields that we can claim to know are growing at such exponential rates, that’s impossible to avoid coming up against the new. Admitting a lack of knowledge isn’t a weakness, it’s a merit to know you don’t know it all. Admitting a lack of knowledge and shying away from learning something new, well that is a different story…

Elon Musk and Barack Obama.
Elon Musk and Barack Obama. Photo: Business Insider

6. “I could either watch it happen or be a part of it.”

In this day and age, even if you have a unique idea, with the billions of people populating the earth, someone else is going to think of it. In fact, they may be having that same thought in a university bar in Seoul, or out trekking a mountain range in Peru. Do not underestimate the potential for the world to keep spinning, and leave you in its wake. Successful people don’t just have great ideas, they execute them. Quickly and efficiently, without wasting any time getting to it.

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