A personal opinion on Elon Musk and what makes successful people tick

I was reading about Elon Musk recently. A South African by origin, he is the co-founder of PayPal and is regarded as one of the most ambitious humans of our generations. His dreams have no limits and he is known to dream about the most bizzare of things. What’s nice is that he actually works towards fulfilling his dreams. One of his most bizarre ambitions is to transport humans on Earth to Mars and to interface human brain with the internet. He has founded a space tech company called ‘SpaceX’ , and few years back, a 2 billion dollar deal was signed between NASA and SpaceX. SpaceX has helped develop rockets that transport materials to a space station. He holds the position of CEO in Tesla and SpaceX and despite holding an exec position in the companies he owns , he is someone who puts in time to understands the technical aspects of rocket making or car making (Tesla is into making electric cars), and has in fact understood the details to surprising levels of depth. Clearly, he is inching towards his goals.

While I don’t approve of his dreams, I wonder what makes people like Elon Musk succeed. What makes them high achievers? He says he puts in close to 100+ hours of work each week, which literally translates to 3–4 hours of sleep each day. I’m sure a lot of people on the planet put in lots of hours to work, but, despite all that there are very few Elon Musks in the world today. While this question was open in my mind, a speaker in one of the videos about him said something that caught my mind. Apparently Elon Musk was a child prodigy and that during his childhood he would read for 5 hours a day. Reading, here, mind you doesn’t mean reading academic materials. Not just this, he also developed a graphic enabled computer program that was quite a hit during his days.

Now, what really made him a child prodigy? I refuse to think that some humans are born with special talents. In fact, talent, in my opinion is repetitive hard work. That said, in my opinion today’s Elon Musk was born somewhere when he was 10–18. Somehow, what you do between 10–22 years of your life, caps a limit on your capacities. I think the inherent curiosity in Musk led him to study/read a lot of things that in turn changed the way he thought and acted. People who have invested a lot of time in reading during childhood have grown up to become knowledgeable, wise adults. Their grasp, abilities to concentrate and sustain pressures are higher than those of normal individuals. What’s best is that their constant reading and studying has made them quick learners. Given this, their academic success has been a mere consequence of their abilities that were honed by reading a range of things. This I have personally seen happen in few of my favourite folks on the Internet. In bits, I have personally experienced the benefits of reading albeit I don’t read as much as I would want to. Everytime I expose myself to good reading, my mind works better. I think curiosity and reading habits during the right age are essential conditions for a child to grow up and succeed.

I think if you inculcate curiosity and essential reading in the children in your life, you can transform their lives in big ways.