By Mitra Taraghi & Ehsan Mortazavi,
PhD Candidate at Polytechnique School of Montreal
We all know Tesla, SpaceX, Paypal and SolarCity which are a handful of companies Elon Musk co-founded, even if you don’t them, you owe yourself a simple googling to know more about what he has brought to this world. We don’t want to talk about the details of the companies he established and we don’t want to lavishly praise him or see him as one of the marvel’s superheroes. In contrast, I aim to help you consider him as someone like yourself not “Iron Man”. The only thing that made him seem different is the way he thinks about things around him and how he freed his mind from all the shackles and let it wander and seek every possibility in this world no matter where. By a simple look at his companies, you find out he has plans for the underground, the ground itself and space. Here is a brief review of his ideas.
Underground: Elon believes we can use the underground to reduce the traffic congestions we face every day by boring tunnels deep in the ground and use slates to move cars at high speed in his company called “The Boring Company” (doesn’t seem that much boring!). He also has the idea of “Hyperloop” that enables travelling between cities in a shorter time.
Ground: Musk forced all the well-known automobile companies to start working in the production of electric cars because they didn’t want to fall behind the trend. I believe this is the super power, surfing on the tip of the tide and make others follow you. The cool part is that Elon didn’t stop himself in this stage, he decided to reduce the production of electricity by using fossil fuels which were contrary to his final goal of using clean and sustainable energy. This is when he decided to establish “Gigafactory” the biggest lithium-ion battery factory using solar panels to produce electricity. Keep up with me, he also planned to involve every people in this way of thinking by providing them special tools to produce their own use of electricity by means of solar roof tiles, which can be used for daily electricity demand and charge their cars (Genius).
Space: It’s time to fly. Although there are so much more to achieve on the planet Elon believes we have to have an inspiring future and that is why he has plans to take people to mars. This is how to think out of the box, in this case out of the planet :D. But we should bear in mind that nothing can be done overnight. That is why he tried so hard to make SpaceX a reliable company, NASA tends to work with. Moreover, even after a number of failure attempts that Spacex had with its rockets, they managed to keep going and improving themselves because this is just the beginning of so much more that they are dreaming of.
What can we learn from Musk?
The main barrier in the process of learning from successful people is the narrative fallacy- “It’s easy to explain greatness in hindsight”. The media tells the story as if he is a genius-he really is- and has never had uncertainties in his decisions or everything has just gone well and ended extraordinarily; because they already know how it has ended. But, is he really successful in everything like this? Of course not! Right now, he might be dealing with big oil companies that wish to see him fail. His victory could be far from a certainty. He also might make mistakes as he has failed many times before.
Looking at the events of his life from a different angle, we could see that it is not the circumstances of his life that mainly affected his achievements. It is his decisions that played the key roles in his success! He has made many good and bad decisions, and his decisions are representing his thoughts, his judgments and how he controls his mind. Therefore, one thing we share with him is the ability to control our mind.
Another thing that we should know is that not only Elon Musk, but almost all other innovators have already experienced to be rejected by the present authorities, professors and investors. They have fought for their ideas to make them true. So, if you have something in mind, do not expect to receive approval the first time you talk about it with others. They may think your idea is stupid, incomprehensible, impossible, obscure or boring. It could be difficult to change what people are used to hearing.
We have detected these patterns in Elon’s thoughts and behavior to pick up for us:
-He cares about the things that happen around him, even the small ones.
-He finds nothing indisputable, even if that thing looks axiomatic.
-He doesn’t let his ideas go, even if the others don’t buy them.
-He is not afraid of being judged by other people.
-He has had painful experiences in his life; nevertheless, he believes that the adversity has helped him to be a stronger person. It is not like everything has to be good or pleasant for us to be creative or to accomplish our goals.