Elon Musk is someone who I follow closely. He’s been transformational to so many industries and businesses.
One of the first things we can learn from Musk’s example is that he is relentless in his pursuit of the bold, and is totally unfazed by concerns about scaling success.
Elon was the founder of several early startups, including a little company called Paypal. He netted $100 million when he sold it.
He then set out to transform other industries. He formed SpaceX, SolarCity and Tesla, taking on space travel, sustainable transportation and solar energy as well. His companies are now worth several billion dollars.
Elon has always thought at scale and never been intimidated by huge obstacles, entrenched industries and big setbacks.
When he couldn’t get a job, he started a company. When internet commerce stalled, he reinvented banking.
When he couldn’t find decent launch services for his Martian greenhouse, he went into the rocket business.
As a kicker, because he never lost interest in the problem of energy, he started both an electric car and a solar energy company. It is also worth pointing out that Tesla is the first successful car company that started in America in five decades and SolarCity has become one of the nation’s largest residential solar providers.
All told, in slightly less than a dozen years, Musk’s appetite for bold has created an empire worth about $30 billion.
So what’s his secret?
Musk has a few, but none are more important to him than passion and purpose.
Here’s how he put it:
“I didn’t go into the rocket business, the car business, or the solar business thinking this is a great opportunity. I just thought, in order to make a difference, something needed to be done. I wanted to have an impact, wanted to create something substantially better than what came before.”
Every entrepreneur is driven by passion and purpose. Why?
Passion and purpose scale easily—they are contagious and transferable—always have been, always will be.
Every movement, every revolution, is proof of this fact. Doing anything big and bold is difficult.
Think of being awake at two in the morning for the fifth night in a row. You need to keep going. You need to fill yourself, but how?
You’re only going to fuel yourself from deep within. You’re not going to push ahead when it’s someone else’s mission. It needs to be yours.
Having passion and purpose is merely the first step.
The usual life cycle of starting a company begins with a lot of optimism and enthusiasm. This lasts for about six months, and then reality sets in. That’s when you learn a lot of your assumptions were false, and that the finish line is much farther away than you thought. It’s during this period that most companies die rather than scale up.
This is also where Musk urges direct and blunt feedback from close friends.
“It’s not going to be easy, but it’s really important to solicit negative feedback from friends. In particular, feedback that helps you recognize as fast as possible what you’re doing wrong and adjust course. That’s usually what people don’t do. They don’t adjust course fast enough and adapt to the reality of the situation.”
Musk employs a number of other strategies, including one he borrowed from physics.
Physics training is a good framework for reasoning,” explains Musk. “It forces you to boil things down to their most fundamental truths and then connect those truths in a way that lets you understand reality. This gives you a way to attack the counterintuitive, a way of figuring out things that aren’t obvious. When you’re trying to create a new product or service, I think it’s critical to use this framework for reasoning. It takes a lot of mental energy, but it’s still the right way to do it.
Follow Musk’s example and begin today to think—and live—at scale!
“A great leader’s courage to fulfill his vision comes from passion, not position.” —John C. Maxwell
In order to be bold, to be wildly successful and create a legacy—we need to go outside of our normal, our day-to-day, and think, operate and live “at scale.”
Check your passion level. Are you passionate about your job? If you are not passionate about it, you will not have the drive to do what needs to be done. You need a fuel inside to live at scale.
Where did your passion give you the motivation to complete a task today? Where did your purpose or goal give you the inner fuel to complete a task?