This past week, a Quora answer from Elon Musk’s ex-wife, Justine Musk went viral about how to be as great as Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk and Richard Branson. Justine’s response was a passionate one, from her own experience of being married to Elon Musk, with a ton of insightful information for entrepreneurs today.
The focus of her response was on the extreme success types like Elon Musk who she described as the freaks; misfits; dyslexics; autistics; people with ADD; square pegs in round holes; who piss people off; get into arguments; rock the boat; individuals with bold points of view; unconventional people who were forced to experience the world in unusual and challenging ways and don’t fit into the structures and routines of corporate life as we know it.
Extreme success results from extreme people with extreme personalities, who combine brilliance and talent with an insane work ethic. - Justine Musk
So what does this mean exactly to the regular entrepreneur, like you and me, who doesn’t fit into that extreme category but still has purpose, talent and ideas to share with the world? Here are some of the common truths and musts of successful entrepreneurs, both extreme and regular.
“Do not fear failure—or [if you] do, move ahead anyway.”
I think this may be the biggest reason entrepreneurs succeed or fail. It’s the very reason many don’t ever get started and always wish they had. The reason they get stuck in their tracks, halting all productivity. The reason many will give away opportunities because they were too scared to take a risk and put themselves out there. It’s something we all grapple with and it’s expected. The difference between success and failure though is what you do with the fear. Do you let it paralyze you or motivate you? Does it hold you hostage or propel you to push harder? When fear has its grip on you, you have to face it head on and figure out what the fear is based in. Break it down and see it for what it really is. Chances are, it’ll look much less scary by then.
“If you're not obsessed, then stop what you're doing and find whatever does obsess you.”
For some entrepreneurs, the word obsession fits. This is all they think about, dream about, eat, sleep and breathe. For others, the word might be love, like, passionate, aligned with or some other purpose-driven feeling. The point is: it doesn’t matter what the word is to you. It’s a question of does this matter enough to you to devote so much of your time and energy to it? If so, then you are the right track. If not, it’s time to keep looking.
“If the work itself doesn't drive you, you will burn out or fall by the wayside or your extreme competitors will crush you and make you cry.”
This is the second phase of finding your “big idea.” If it isn’t important enough to you that you wouldn’t devote large amounts of your time and energy, then you sure as heck aren’t going to feel driven to succeed. In that case, the very act of working and building your business will end up leaving you exhausted and depleted in every way imaginable. Exhaustion is expected in the entrepreneur life but depletion...no. You may go to bed dog tired after a long day of work on your business but your business will continue to nag you; you will come up with new ideas when you should be sleeping; you will feel excited to get up and get moving on one of those ideas. You may feel fear—that’s a whole other thing—but ultimately, you will feel alive and excited to be creating your dream.
“Follow your obsessions until a problem starts to emerge; a big meaty challenging problem that impacts as many people as possible that you feel hell-bent to solve or die trying.”
At the essence of every company, product and service in the world, there is a problem and a solution. That’s what every business starts with and grows upon. What is the problem that your business solves? Who is the person or people with the problem? How do they feel now? How do they want to feel in the future? How can you reach them to help them with their problem? All these questions must be answered if you want to have a successful business. If you don’t know the answers yet then start asking the questions of your target customers. If your business doesn’t solve a problem, then you need to dig deeper because chances are it does, you just don’t know it yet.
“Don't follow a pre-existing path, and don't look to imitate your role models.”
You know that saying, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”? Throw it out the window. Look to your role models for inspiration and strength, not replica business ideas. Be uniquely you and dare to be different. Being different is what sets you apart from your competition. You may set out to tackle the same problem but see it from a different perspective or offer an alternative solution. Use your personal experience, knowledge and talents to create a unique selling proposition that sets your business on fire.
“Learn to handle a level of stress that would break most people.”
The difference between a successful entrepreneur and one who is spinning their wheels and not producing anything can be how they handle the stress and pressure. Maybe you have a family to provide for or you left your job to build your business. All of this places extreme amounts of stress and pressure on you to create, build and perform; sometimes quickly. Some simply crack under the weight of it all. Those that don’t go on to achieve some pretty great things and help a lot of people. Figure out how you can start to train yourself to handle it all.
“Have superhuman energy and stamina...if you [don’t] then make it a point to get into the best shape possible.”
Health in entrepreneurship isn’t something that’s discussed often but is actually pretty important. You are going to work long hours, have high levels of stress and fatigue, most likely travel, manage tons of things beyond just your business, etc. All of this requires someone who isn’t going to get sick every week because of stress, be so tired they can’t get out of bed or snap at people all day. You need to work toward mental and physical strength and health. If you aren’t in tune with your mind and body, you most likely are out of touch with your gut intuition, which comes in handy when having to make some big decisions that require more than numbers and research. Do yourself a favor and invest in yourself like you have in your dreams.
“Surfing the 'Net is a deadly time suck, and given what [you] know [your] time is worth, [you] can't afford it.”
We all do it. You go to post your most recent blog post on your social media channels and bam! You just lost two hours of your day. Or maybe you are searching for competitor solutions and get lost in the interweb of products and solutions out there solving the same problem you are. It happens to all of us at some point. To combat this, carve out specific times for this kind of activity because it does result in valuable learning, competitive insights and inspiration when done productively. Set aside 20 minutes and assign yourself a specific task or goal to keep it productive. Don’t fall in to the time suck that can be the Internet. Your business will not thank you.
Now it’s your turn. Which of these resonates with you the most? Share in the comments below.
Thanks for reading and be well!
Hi, I'm Tiffany! I'm a business coach and consultant who believes businesses with soul is the way to go. That's why I've made it my mission to help entrepreneurs live out their business purpose and grow their ideas into profits. Meet other like-minded entrepreneurs now in the Dreamer & Creator online community.