Often called the real-life Tony Stark, Elon Musk did not always start on top. To the contrary, when he first started out, he rented a tiny office and slept on a couch. His lesson is that just showing up is half the battle. However, he believes his success comes from persistence and the will to keep going.
It was from that couch that the idea of PayPal came about. Curiously, the original concept of PayPal was to create a platform to conglomerate all of a person’s financial services. The capability to make email payments was only a minor function. While pitching the idea to investors and friends, no one cared about all of its capabilities and everyone focused on just the email payment function. Musk recognized the importance of taking constructive feedback. It was his ability to listen and reflect that he focused on the service they wanted and PayPal would soon be acquired by eBay for $15 billion in stock.
His next great takeaway is that a person can choose to not be ordinary. He believes that extraordinary people are not afraid of learning new things. Elon Musk took this to heart by moving away from PayPal and coding to SpaceX. He wanted to explore the idea of multi planet species and more specifically the possibility to travel to Mars. It’s hard to imagine but the very same year he sells PayPal in 2002, he gets right to work with space exploration. He actually travels to Russia in order to purchase refurbished rocket parts. He worked on SpaceX despite it going against everyone’s advice. Despite his best efforts, the first 3 launches failed. Most people would probably quit. Elon Musk said the company only had funds for one more launch. Fortunately for him, fourth time was the charm. “When something is important enough you do it even if the odds are not in your favor.”
By now it shouldn’t surprise you that a little over a year after launching the SpaceX program, Musk also begins working on Tesla. Again he embarked on something completely new with electric cars. Interestingly enough however, even Musk saw Tesla as a long shot. Most people thought of electric cars as small and slow, a sophisticated golf cart. Tesla came within a few weeks of going out of business as it worked towards its Model 3 production goals but it was Musk’s obsessive nature that helped get it out of that hole. To Musk, “The fundamental purpose, the fundamental good that Tesla provides is accelerating the advent of sustainable transport and energy production.” It was that belief that it served a greater purpose that inspired him to keep going.
There are many lessons one can learn from the real-life Iron Man. For one, success does not come easy but requires relentless perseverance. It is also important to learn and find things that inspire you. Lastly, constantly reflect and self-evaluate on how to get better. Pay attention to constructive feedback and let go of those opinions that do not serve you. For this week’s #MakeItHappen, try and learn something new that inspires you to wake up excited and see where that journey takes you. And most importantly, let us know what you are working on by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org or share your story and tag us on social.
Go make it happen,
Luly & the YTeach Team
“When something is important enough you do it even if the odds are not in your favor.”
– Elon Musk