Elon Musk is the hottest entrepreneur on the planet right now. From launching an electric car into space, selling flamethrowers on Twitter, and tunneling holes throughout the country, his unconventional ventures are inspiring millions.
It should come as no surprise that his motivational advice is unconventional, as well. Motivational content can become cliche and overused. Every now and then, you need to hear an opposing idea to challenge your way of thinking.
Here are 3 things from Elon Musk you never hear from motivational blogs that will shake you up and make you reconsider your approach:
Quote #1: “If you need inspiring words, don’t do it.”
Entrepreneurs don’t read motivational blog posts all day. They have real life problems that they need to find real life solutions to. If they have a hiring need, they contact recruitment agencies, compare costs for different vendors, implement solutions, test results, and learn from their experiences. Inspiring words are a shot of espresso to boost their performance, not the food pyramid that nourishes their body to keep going throughout the day.
A motivational quote or video might inspire them for a moment, but they certainly are not spending hours pouring through the self-help section at Barnes and Nobles. If that is you, reconsider whether you are addicted to being motivated or you are addicted to whatever it is you want to do. If you’re an aspiring writer, are you spending more time reading how to write, or are you spending more time actually writing? Audit your behavior and be honest with yourself.
If you are relying on external motivation to keep you going on a project, then once that external motivation is gone, you slow down. You must find something deeper within yourself to keep pushing through the hard times. Doubt is inevitable but failure is necessary.
Quote #2: “If something is important enough, even if the odds are against you, you should still do it.”
People tell you to play it safe, find a mentor, research your market, make sure there is demand. All of this is conventional wisdom. It’s not bad advice, but it’s what everyone is told and it’s what everyone is doing. If Elon Musk listened to this advice he would not be Elon Musk.
Elon Musk revolutionized two industries that people never would have thought to enter. Tesla became the first American car company to go public since Ford Motor Company in 1956. When starting SpaceX, one of his friends collected several clips of rockets blowing up and made him watch a video. Elon proves if you want to make it big, you have to take a big risk.
Most importantly, if you want to succeed, you have to do something you are passionate about. Elon Musk could have made it rich in any other industry doing something far less complicated. Instead, he chose to pursue his passion for making the world a better place by providing alternative energy transportation and creating a new movement of space travel to save humanity.
He gave himself a 10% chance of success rate with both companies when he started. He chose to start them anyway. If you have nothing to risk, you have nothing to gain. The reward is proportional to the risk. If something is important to you, you will pursue it in spite of any amount of risk you might face.
Quote #3: “You should take the approach that you’re wrong. Your goal is to be less wrong.”
Most people avoid criticism. Criticism shows us we might be something wrong. We were raised to avoid being wrong but Elon Musk actively seeks it. Criticism shows you how you can improve and learn.
You learn nothing when someone tells you what you’re doing right. It might feel good, but like it is said in the movie Whiplash, “There are no two words in the English language more harmful than ‘good job’.” Feeling good breeds contentment and leads you to a place of complacency.
Of course, most of us are not Elon Musk and do not operate at his level of intensity. You might decide relentless improvement is not something you value or want in your life. Nothing is wrong with being content and happy with where you are in life. A continual desire for improvement does not mean you need to be discontent with everything. You can choose how far you want to go on your journey of self-improvement and success.
In a world where companies try to pretend like everything is going right, Elon Musk takes the opposite approach. He pretends like everything is going wrong, and he wants to make things less wrong. His approach opens the door for failure and welcomes the opportunity for improvement. Are you allowing yourself to fail? Are you acknowledging your flaws?
We all want to be like Elon Musk. Not all of us want to work 100+ hours a week. There is a middle ground somewhere where we can all learn from. Find your ‘why’ and let that inspire you. Don’t rely on motivational words to keep you going, use it as a supplement, not a meal. Lastly, when everyone is asking themself what is going well, ask yourself what is going wrong.