Elon Musk Life Purpose EXPLAINED
Finding Your Purpose in Existential Crisis
Let’s jump through a wormhole…
Elon Musk is sitting in the SpaceX Control Center and staring intently at the screen before him.
As he awaits the Falcon 1 launch, he must be pondering how much is at stake.
His companies are on the verge of bankruptcy, the country is going through the worst recession since the Great Depression therefore making capital hard to acquire, and to add fuel to the fire, he’s going through a divorce with the mother of his 5 children.
And in leading up to this moment, he already had three rocket failures in a row, which means if this launch fails, he’ll be forced to shut the door on SpaceX and therefore his dream.
“We were running on fumes at that point. We had virtually no money… a fourth failure would have been absolutely game over. Done.” — Elon Musk
He’s a nervous wreck.
“I never thought I was someone who could be capable of a nervous breakdown. I felt this was the closest I’ve ever come. Because it seemed pretty, pretty dark.” — Elon Musk
Lift off in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1…
He holds his breath.
The Falcon 1 blasts off the launch pad, shoots through the sky, and breaks out of the atmosphere, becoming the first privately funded, liquid fueled rocket to reach orbit!
Cheers ring through the control center! Bottles of champagne popped!
The next day the phone rings.
It’s NASA offering a billion dollar contract.
He can’t even hold the phone he’s so excited, Elon blurts out, “I love you guys!”
“When something is important enough, you do it, even if the odds are not in your favor.” — Elon Musk
When the going got tough, why did he choose to fight on instead of give up?
Obviously he isn’t driven by money.
If his goal was to make money then he said starting a space company would be the last thing to do.
He also isn’t driven by a desire to be significant because in the grand scheme of things he believes we’re likely a simulation and will likely be eclipsed by artificial intelligence.
According to Elon Musk, the thing that drives him is vision.
“I think it’s important to have a future that is inspiring and appealing. There has to be reasons you get up in the morning and want to live. Why do you want to live? What’s the point? What inspires you? What do you love about the future?” — Elon Musk
Actually, he’s driven by two visions.
He’s pulled by the vision of an exciting future, one where we colonize mars, and he’s repulsed from the vision of a depressing future, one where we don’t even get to mars.
“If the future does not include being out there among the stars and being a multi-planet species, I find that incredibly depressing.” — Elon Musk
He’s therefore motivated by heaven and hell.
What’s your heaven and hell?
As a kid I was taught “good people” go to heaven and “bad people” go to hell.
But since I believed everyone was a “good person” deep-down that would mean everyone goes to heaven. This is a comforting thought to a child who may have lost loved ones, but uninspiring for an adult who wants to get sh*t done.
It’s uninspiring because it means the person who lives a life of consumption and taking has the same chances of achieving the ultimate goal as someone who lives a life of service and sacrifice.
But what if we taught children something else?
“I came to the conclusion that we should aspire to increase the scope and scale of human consciousness in order to better understand what questions to ask. Really, the only thing that makes sense is to strive for greater collective enlightenment.” — Elon Musk
What if we believed that heaven isn’t something we must die to see, but something we must live to create?
And what if we admitted that we can do everything “right”, and still fail, which means we need to try that much harder?
“The problem is we think we have time.” — Buddha
One of my psychological pitfalls is that I’m over-confident about the future. I think it’s a pitfall of my generation. We’ve grown up in the greatest era in human history, and although we may intellectually worry about the future, we subconsciously assume things will continue to improve, but like Elon Musk said, technology’s improvement is not guaranteed…
“We are mistaken that technology automatically improves. It does not automatically improve. It only improves if a lot of people work to make it better. And actually by itself it will degrade.”
So I think it’s helpful to have an exciting vision of the future and a nightmarish vision of the future, and then to do everything we can to create the positive version because in the end, nothing is guaranteed.
And then to achieve our vision faster we should, like Elon Musk, set ambitious deadlines.
In the past 5 years, Tesla has missed more than 20 deadlines and SpaceX has missed more than 6 deadlines.
But here’s the thing…
If he get’s us to Mars, people won’t look back and say, “Well you know, he was a few years late on that.”
I think the primary reason he sets ambitious deadlines is because they motivate him and his people to work harder so even if they miss more deadlines than the average Fortune 500 company they still achieve way more than the average Fortune 500 company.
“People work better when they know what the goal is and why. It is important that people look forward to coming to work in the morning and enjoy working.” — Elon Musk
And he seems like the type of person who needs to be in a constant state of motion or deep in flow to ward off some of the existential dread that might come with slowing down.
“The idea of lying on a beach as my main thing just sounds like the worst. It sounds horrible to me. I would go bonkers. I would have to be on serious drugs. I’d be super-duper bored. I like high intensity.” — Elon Musk
In conclusion, Elon Musk’s purpose is about setting ambitious deadlines to speed faster toward his heaven.
If more of us think like this, then with a little help from Elon Musk, we just might create a heaven on Earth… and a heaven on Mars.