You may have come across successful entrepreneurs as part of your business dealings. But have you ever come across an extraordinary one? The kind of entrepreneur that borders on wizard because of their ability to materialize thoughts previously deemed impossible by the experts. The kind that functions as a spiritual mentor because of their ability to make believers of skeptics. Elon Musk is one of such. A man with revolutionary ideas and the power to turn them into reality. He possesses an otherworldly ambition, fierce commitment and the determination to defy the status quo with his genius projects.
Musk’s first monumental success was with PayPal, which he officially launched in 2001 after an intense two-year business reengineering process involving Confinity and x.com. Long story short, in July 2002 PayPal was sold to eBay for a whopping $1.5 billion. But it wasn’t the first business he sold, just the most successful till then. At the age of 32, he was already wealthier than most of us ever dream to become, but instead of retiring, he set out to change the world and make history, again.
After reshaping the banking industry and the online payment landscape forever, he started thinking about building lunar bases and going to Mars. This vision didn’t leave his mind and, in 2002, he launched SpaceX to shake up the moribund space industry. Only a year later, he co-founded Tesla Motors (now Tesla Inc), the world-famous automaker that turned electric cars from ecologically-friendly machines into luxurious, sleek roadsters.
Elon Musk is one of those individuals who reignite the nurture-vs-nature debate. Is it possible for any person to gradually become a prophetic visionary and gifted executioner through hard work and discipline, or do you have to be born that way? Who knows–maybe a little bit of both. The point is that Elon Musk has risen to the level of Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Jeff Bezos, and some would argue even higher. This is not to say that Musk is flawless. He has certainly had to deal with major fails along his career. Yet he is the kind of entrepreneur that is invested in changing history, not just making money. With this in mind, here are four success mantras from Elon Musk.
1. Aim for the stars with your feet on the ground.
Elon Musk has set his eyes on Mars. Yet he still envisions a green Earth where everyday technologies do not pollute but actually help clean the environment. All his efforts are directed towards creating a future that inspires and appeals. He doesn’t take into account what naysayers or lobbyists have to say; he is fully focused on realizing his vision.
Regarding teamwork, he is not among those leaders who expect their staff to just get things done and move on. He demands excellence. He himself works 100 hours per week thanks to what he calls “batching” and has a dedicated team of employees and peers who work the same. It isn’t just passion; it’s beyond that. I’d call it passionate obsession. He is not one of those individuals who wishes to experience life as is. He wants to engineer a life that’s based on what isn’t yet. His vision is his oxygen; his work is his workout. And in order to make his vision a reality, he spends hours perfecting the tiniest of details and sets for himself and his team the highest of expectations.
Musk’s passionate obsession is an inspiration for anyone wanting to achieve something extraordinary. His focus, discipline and style are powerful antidotes against the mediocrity and complacency that creep up after routine settles in. If you have a vision to transform a whole industry, a nation or the world; if you are one of those who doesn’t like to play it safe, then there is a lot you can learn from Elon Musk.
2. Put your heart and soul in it.
In a six-year period, Elon Musk accomplished what can be considered a titanic entrepreneurial crusade. He founded SpaceX in 2002 and Tesla Motors in 2003, both companies achieving their first major victories in 2008. That year, SpaceX had its first successful rocket launch and flight, the Falcon 1, and Tesla Motors sold its first car, the Tesla Roadster. In doing so, Musk turned space exploration from a government monopoly into a believable, private endeavor, and turned electric cars from a purely environmental initiative into a sleek, fun product. Two historic events led by the same man.
For many people, work is just a necessary evil, an obligation. For others, it is an important component of their self-realization, a major part of their human experience. Elon Musk is one of the latter. If you have ever listened to any of his Ted Talks, you must have realized his love for and commitment to his vision. In his own words, “When something is important enough, you do it even if the odds are not in your favor.” He takes his work highly personally.
Any entrepreneur wishing to make it big must first put everything into their vision. They must believe in the project before anyone else does. They must love the brand before anyone else starts to. In the words of Nobel Laurate Dennis Gabor, “The future cannot be predicted, but futures can be invented.”
3. Don’t let failure defeat you.
Musk does have several failed attempts to his name. Not every idea that he’s pursued has been an instant success. The first three launches at SpaceX were failures, and the Tesla Roadster took three years to become commercially viable even after the engineering was already full proof. But did that make him stop? Of course, not.
He was determined to change the status quo like he had envisioned. The results? A successful rocket launch that started a new space race and an electric car that did not look like a refrigerator, it looked like a rocket on wheels.
If we want to succeed as entrepreneurs, we must have that never-give-up attitude. There will always be obstacles in the way, but these roadblocks must never deter us from our path.
4. Self-reflection is important.
One of the most amazing things about Musk is that he is a self-taught programmer and rocket-scientist. As a young boy, Musk faced bullying which isolated him from the outer world. He turned into a bookworm, which later served him to educate himself on all the scientific, technological and business fundamentals relative to his visionary projects. All of that made him self-sufficient to start up his own businesses. Elon Musk was able to turn his experience being bullied into the fuel of an actual rocket-man, himself.
Even today, he craves feedback and believes in self-analysis. He is always thinking about what more can be done to an already great piece. He solicits criticism and seeks out his critics to converse with them. This shows how important self-reflection can be to help one grow.
This post was originally published on Forbes.com.