How to be as crazy as Elon Musk and ultimately change the world

Disclaimer — this article isn’t going to tell you how to get yourself to #1 on the Forbes list, and neither will it earn you a net worth of $38.8 billion but what it will do is explore some of the ways in which a Canadian man named Elon Musk may have gone about achieving this.

Steve Jobs once said, “Those who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world usually do.” But what is it about thinking one can change the world that makes them ‘crazy’? Humans are creatures of habit, and as a Change Manager myself, I see resistance to change in everyday life. The fear of the unknown, the feeling of loss, the loss of control, and purely because of the way our brains are wired to be habitual are all reasons why people are for the most part hesitant or downright resistant when it comes to change.

It is no surprise the feelings of disbelief it stirs up when a man steps forward and declares, “We should explore and colonise on Mars to protect the human species from extinction”. It sounds like a crazy idea, like something out of the movies, but here we are in 2020, sending humans up to the International Space Station. You can’t deny that the innovative mind of Elon Musk (named #1 on Forbes List Innovative Leaders of 2019) has so far already taken the world on a journey of innovation and change.

Let’s scale this back and look at 4 lessons to learn on how he has achieved this success.

Lesson one: Think BIG.

You need to understand where the problems lie before you can create your solution. In Elon Musk’s case, he was concerned that humanity will one day become extinct just like the dinosaurs if we did not adapt to be able to travel between planets. Undoubtedly, if you want to change the world you need to think big. The 6 Thinking Hats is a great Project Management tool for analysing your problems and identifying solutions as it enables you to think things through from different perspectives; processes, facts, feelings, cautions, benefits and creativity to ensure that when you do arrive at a solution it comes from a holistic view.

Lesson two: Set yourself clear goals.

Elon Musk knew that a solution would be to make humanity multiplanetary (as stated as his SpaceX mission statement), but there are steps to get there and this required setting goals. He identified that to make space travel affordable, rockets would need to be reusable therefore this would ultimately become one of his main goals. Set your goals, write them down, break them down into smaller manageable chunks, and celebrate your successes when you achieve even the smallest steps.

Lesson three: Be patient.

It takes time to change the world. Successes won’t always happen straight away and there will be failures and setbacks, however it is important to take the time to invest in your knowledge. By the age of 12 Elon Musk had self-taught himself coding which enabled him to sell his first product for $500. Take the time to educate yourself, expand your knowledge and your skills so that you are better equipped to deal with any tasks or issues that may arise.

Lesson 4: Don’t give up easily.

When a problem arises (which it certainly will), find a solution to the problem instead of giving up. When Elon Musk wanted to buy a missile to send to Space he was faced with a problem — the price was far too high. Instead of giving up on his goals, he decided he could make his own missiles for a fraction of the price. When problems arise, think outside of the box, brainstorm multiple ideas and analyse each one.

Suffice to say, Elon Musk is absolutely on his journey to change the world, and who knows how our world will look in 20 years because of his remarkable innovations. Equally important is the inspiration that people like Elon Musk give to the world. A belief that big dreams and small changes can indeed change our world. There is no project (big or small, personal or business related) that will not benefit from applying the 4 steps above as well as the crazy belief that you can change the world.

CI Projects Ltd is a female-led, consultancy specialising in project management; business process redesign; strategy development & execution and training.