Elon Musk (born 1971) is the South African-born Canadian-American founder, CEO, and CTO of SpaceX; co-founder, CEO, and product architect of Tesla Inc.; co-chairman of OpenAI, and founder and CEO of Neuralink.
"Failure is an option here. If things are not failing, you are not innovating enough."
"Persistence is very important. You should not give up unless you are forced to give up."
"It's OK to have your eggs in one basket as long as you control what happens to that basket."
“You want to be extra rigorous about making the best possible thing you can. Find everything that’s wrong with it and fix it. Seek negative feedback, particularly from friends.”
"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."
"Work like hell. I mean you just have to put in 80 to 100 hour weeks every week. [This] improves the odds of success. If other people are putting in 40 hour workweeks and you're putting in 100 hour workweeks, then even if you're doing the same thing, you know that you will achieve in four months what it takes them a year to achieve."
"I think most of the important stuff on the Internet has been built. There will be continued innovation, for sure, but the great problems of the Internet have essentially been solved."
"When Henry Ford made cheap, reliable cars, people said, 'Nah, what's wrong with a horse?' That was a huge bet he made, and it worked."
“If something is important enough, even if the odds are against you, you should still do it.”
"Don't delude yourself into thinking something's working when it's not, or you're gonna get fixated on a bad solution."
"Creativity takes courage.” — Henri Matisse
1. Set Goals
Writing down your goals is the first step in achieving them.
It has been proven that people who record their goals have a greater chance of achieving them than those who don’t. As the motivational speaker Tony Robbins has said, “If you talk about it, it’s a dream, if you envision it, it’s possible, but if you schedule it, it’s real.”
Just as you should write down your goals for yourselves, announcing your plans to friends and family, e.g., on social media, gets you into the feeling that you cannot let people down. It doesn’t matter what you want to create, tell everyone about it and get creating! It will make you feel like you have something to deliver to them.Announcing your plans solidifies them and makes them concrete.
2. Start Anywhere
Taking a blank page, raw materials, picking up an instrument, and finding a starting point is what stumps many a potentially creative person. They start their project but quickly run out of steam and come to a halt, not knowing how to progress.
Beginning a project is daunting and the end can seem far away.
So why not start at the end?
Or in the middle?
If you’re thinking of writing a song, rather than start with your intro, why not write the chorus first, or the last verse? If you’re thinking of writing a novel, rather than start by writing ‘Chapter 1’ on the top of your blank page, try writing ‘Epilogue’ instead.
Remember, creativity is a process. It is a series of actions that result in an end.
Or a middle or a beginning.
If you want to know where and when you should work, ultimately that’s up to you. Just remember to be consistent in your schedule.
Routine is important because art requires dedication and persistence.
It is a common misconception that creativity happens as an “Eureka!” moment and that the artist is suddenly struck by inspiration and produces a finished masterpiece.
Waiting for inspiration will do you no good, you have to get to work regardless of whether you’re inspired or not.
Life will always get in the way. Life can be distracting, but that’s just the way it is.
Rather than complain about the distractions from work commitments, family, children, chores, etc., try identifying your non-essential time, i.e., the time you waste.
So don’t sit around writing for inspiration — knowing you have to work can be inspiration in itself.
4. Take Note
Notebooks are a great way to capture your ideas on the move and when you least expect them. Trying to store ideas in your memory will lead to problems.
Your memory can fade, but writing doesn’t.
An idea can strike at the oddest and most inconvenient of times, so mark it by recording it.Writing in your notebook regularly will leave you with a collection and wealth of ideas of which, some will be great and others won’t. Eventually, you’ll have collection of seeds and a thread of ideas that you can cultivate into anything of your choosing.
Your notebooks or sketchbooks will become a storage farm of your ideas. Your ideas have to be nurtured.
Your ideas don’t need to be fancy, or neat and tidy, they just need to exist.
5. Restrict Yourself
Have you ever tried to begin a project and were so overwhelmed by the amount of tools, ideas and resources at your disposal that you just gave up?
Ideas and tools are simple. Trying to attach and combine too many of them at the same time is dangerous -they can clutter the thought process.
There are many possibilities in art, but having too many to choose from can lead to problems.
Remember, it’s not your tools or ideas that are important, it’s how you use them.
Try limiting yourself to just a few.
Try creating a work of art everyday for a week, a month or a year, and share it with the world. Constantly having to create something new will allow you to get into the practice of constraining both your time, tools and your judgemental thought.
Constraining yourself will help you focus your attention.
6. Make Mistakes
Mistakes and errors are a part of the creative process. Difficulties and frustration are just a natural part of creating a work of art. No work was created perfectly in one draft.
We do though, as in all aspects of our life, tend to learn from mistakes, knowing how to handle the situation differently the next time the same problem occurs.
It’s how you learn from your mistakes, not the mistakes themselves, that matters.
Don’t be afraid of making mistakes and don’t reject them entirely.
You may find that something you didn’t intend to do works better than what you originally had in mind.
Why not try creating something intentionally bad?Write a terrible poem, make an object that doesn’t serve its purpose, write a song that sucks. You can be guaranteed that your next effort will be many times better!
Off-days and bad works are part of the process.
Don’t let them get you down.
7. Just Do It
Naturally, we won’t always want to work, even if we enjoy what we do.
Frustration, disappointment and boredom are all part of the creative process. With practice though, it becomes easier, and you’ll eventually find that once you start you won’t want to stop!
You have to be determined to do something rather just wanting to do something.
Just wanting to do something results in nothing.
You just have to do it.
Finding even just a few minutes a day to create or sketch or jot down ideas is better than going to bed at night and regretting that you didn’t do anything that day to get your work off the ground, let alone finish it.
Talking about doing work won’t achieve anything, neither will dreaming about.
Action is required to produce.
8. Ask Questions
A major part and requirement of being an artist is asking questions. Asking questions about the works of others and of your own work means you are aware of art in a critical sense.
Asking questions helps you to develop as an artist.
Try reading the first page from a book that you haven’t read before and imagine how the story continues. Then, carry on reading and question why the author did it his way rather than yours. You can try this with music, film, products, etc.
Ask yourself from time to time why you are making the decisions you are making and if there is more than one answer to your question.
Question the work of others.
Why did the maker create it this way, what were his or her intentions and did they succeed in their task? Question its purpose, look or sound.
Ask yourself what’s missing in the world and fill that void with your own work.
9. Don’t Obsess
Sometimes, you can get so wrapped up the details of your work and in trying to make it perfect, that you lose sight of the original vision and prevent yourself from finishing the piece.
If you find yourself struggling to finish, ask yourself if there is anything more that that particular work needs.
If you can no longer add to or take anything away from your work, it may be time to declare it finished.
Perfection is mostly about completion.
Being the best shouldn’t be your goal. Your goal should be getting better at what you already do.
Make art, but sometimes you’ll have to accept that it may be out of your control.
If you don’t believe in your work, how can you expect others to?
Every great artist doubts themselves from time to time, but the only way to remedy this is to keep on going.
If you constantly give up on your work and yourself, you will fall into the habit of giving up.
And giving up often means that you won’t acquire the skills needed to finish your work.
There will be many times along your creative route where will you doubt what you are doing, and this is natural, because creativity is a process. Creativity is about joining the dots, (albeit very slowly and arduously at times).
People have art that they both like and dislike, but what should matter to you as an artist is that you are happy with your own work.
Opinions are subjective.
After finishing a work, step away from it for a while, put it in a drawer or somewhere you can’t see, feel or hear it. Revisit it a week or two later and you’ll find you’ll be less attached to it and more able to judge it for the work that it is from a more objective viewpoint. You will be able to give it a more honest assessment.
Don’t compare yourself to other people, make work that you like.
Be confident in all that you create.
Your work is unique to you.
After all, it was you who made it.
Adapted from the book You Can Create! 24 Ways to Unlock Your Creative Potential and originally published at ThoughtCatalog.com
“Simplicity boils down to two steps: Identify the essential. Eliminate the rest.” - Leo Babauta
THE PROBLEM WITH PRODUCTIVITY
One of the most difficult aspects of creativity to cope with is that creativity and productivity doesn't always work the way you want it to.
Why is this?
Because creativity isn't always a linear process.
It comes and goes, it has peaks and troughs, success and failures.
So, how do you build a routine and optimise your life to maximise your creative output?
Many people fail at habits because they don't create the habits and environments that distract them enough.
If the time you've scheduled and the work you do isn't enough to distract you from actually procrastinating then you need to work on creating better habits.
START SMALL. WORK EVERYDAY
I know of many people who have been guilty of not working at something every day and as a result their project becomes a long and difficult task (sometimes taking years!).
They think that they can wait until inspiration strikes or that the muse will provide them ideas in her own time.
As Steve Pressfield write in his book 'The War of Art', “The most important thing about art is to work. Nothing else matters except sitting down every day and trying.”
Because they don't work at it everyday, procrastination, rather than work, has become the norm. It has become the habit. It has become comfortable to be unproductive.
Their work isn't distracting enough.
This is not about finishing a task - that can wait.
This is about working at something consistently.
Creativity and productivity has to become more appealing than distraction. Habit-building often fails because habit-forming itself is an accomplishment.
GIVE YOURSELF A DIGITAL MAKEOVER
Notifications from email, Facebook, Twitter, etc., I think most people would agree, are probably one of our greatest distractions.
Unless your work involves customer communication, they can demand and claim much needed attention, time and concentration.
Switching between tasks and notifications takes time and energy.
Research has shown that it takes around 25 minutes to get back to focusing on a task after being distracted.
Which app do you spend most time on on your smartphone? I'll almost guarantee it's Facebook.
But, if you own both a desktop computer and smartphone, do you really need the Facebook app on your phone?
And vice versa; do you really need log into Facebook and email so often on your desktop if you have a smartphone?
Try making your smartphone "less smart". Delete your social media apps, if only for a few hours.
Remove Facebook from your bookmarks bar on your desktop.
Turn off email notifications
Turn on Silent (or Airplane) mode, unless it's essential for your work.
Log out of apps, rather than just close them.
“Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.”
- Vince Lombardi
DON'T LOSE THE SPARK!
I’ve met many people in my life who, while working very hard to produce something, never actually do.
They work at their art, book, business, etc., everyday, but never actually get around to saying to the world: ‘Here is my product.”
Because they get so wrapped in the details of their work, trying to make it as perfect as possible, and getting so bogged down by the details, that they lose that feeling they had right at the beginning, when they were passionate about making something, when they had that initial spark and flash of inspiration.
They lose sight of the original vision and have prevented themselves from finishing their work.
DON'T BE SCARED OF NOT BEING PERFECT
If you find yourself struggling to finish, ask yourself if there is anything more that that particular work needs.
It’s scary, I know.
Making something from nothing, scared of putting it out into the world, scared that people won't think it's any good, scared of rejection.
So we keep going, trying to make it as perfect as possible until we lose all interest in it, get bored with it.
Perfection though, is mostly abut completion.
Being the best at something shouldn’t be your goal. Your goal should be to get better.
Take Apple, for example.
When the first iPhone was released, Apple found found ways to improve it, so they followed it up with another model.
The composer Pierre Boulez often rewrote and reworked his works, often transforming them into something entirely different. Although Boulez may have had an obsessional concern for perfection, this came after he had already produced the work.
He wrote, published and performed the works, then later decided that they needed further work.
PERFECTION IS AN ENEMY
Salvador Dali said, “Have no fear of perfection - you’ll never reach it.”
Much of our daily tasks and activities consist of decisions about completion and perfection, from gardening to cooking your food.
We may not always have the time or energy available to complete every daily task to perfection, but they do get done.
Maybe you've decided to clean or decorate the house and it doesn't turn out quite how you like - you simply go back to it another day.
The same with art, it doesn't have to be right the first time.
Sandro Botticelli was one of the greatest Renaissance painters. His earlier works however, show up a lot of flaws that were later ironed out later in life.
Check out his painting The Birth of Venus, below. Possibly his most famous painting and certainly one of the worlds most famous.
Amazing, isn't it?
Check out the feet...
Yes, Botticelli was terrible at drawing feet!
Forget about perfectionism and embrace being as great as you can be be.
Perfection will only hold you back, it’s an enemy.
Focusing on perfection means you could keep putting off your business launch or product release.
You wont get that verse written or you’ll throw what could have been a great painting in the bin.
Make art, but accept that it is not always under you control.
A visionary and innovator, Steve Jobs (1955-2011), revolutionised the world of personal computers, animated films, phones, music, tablet computing and that of digital publishing.
It's well known that Jobs was neither an engineer nor designer, but what made him so special was the ability to see a company from the outside in. He was a user first, a producer second.
Plagued by his ruthless perfectionism that could often hurt those who worked for him as well as himself, he not only transformed the way in which we use technology but in the very fundamental way that we live.
“That’s been one of my mantras — focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex; you have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple.”
“I think if you do something and it turns out pretty good, then you should go do something else wonderful, not dwell on it for too long. Just figure out what’s next.”
“When you’re a carpenter making a beautiful chest of drawers, you’re not going to use a piece of plywood on the back, even though it faces the wall and nobody will see it. You’ll know it’s there, so you’re going to use a beautiful piece of wood on the back. For you to sleep well at night, the aesthetic, the quality, has to be carried all the way through.”
"For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been ‘No’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something."
“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.”
“Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.”
"My favorite things in life don't cost any money. It's really clear that the most precious resource we all have is time."
"I'm convinced that about half of what separates successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance."
“People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully.”
"Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me. Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful... that’s what matters to me."