I got a very interesting forward from a friend yesterday. I loved it so much that, I have read it more than 20 times in the last 12 hours. I did a little bit of digging and found one more interesting post by the same person (Justine Musk). Both of which inspired (will continue to inspire) me. I hope it does the same to you!
Will I become a billionaire if I am determined to be one and put in the necessary work required?
One of the many qualities that separate self-made billionaires from the rest of us is their ability to ask the right questions.
This is not the right question.
(Which is not to say it’s a bad question. It just won’t get that deep part of your mind working to help you — mulling things over when you think you’re thinking about something else — sending up flares of insight.)
You’re determined. So what? You haven’t been racing naked through shark-infested waters yet. Will you be just as determined when you wash up on some deserted island, disoriented and bloody and ragged and beaten and staring into the horizon with no sign of rescue?
We live in a culture that celebrates determination and hard work, but understand: these are the qualities that keep you in the game after most everybody else has left, or until somebody bigger and stronger picks you up and hurls you back out to sea. Determination and hard work are necessary, yes, but they are the minimum requirements. As in: the bare minimum.
A lot of people work extremely hard and through no fault of their own — bad luck, the wrong environment, unfortunate circumstances — struggle to survive.
How can you *leverage* your time and your work?
Shift your focus away from what you want (a billion dollars) and get deeply, intensely curious about what the world wants and needs. Ask yourself what you have the potential to offer that is so unique and compelling and helpful that no computer could replace you, no one could outsource you, no one could steal your product and make it better and then club you into oblivion (not literally). Then develop that potential. Choose one thing and become a master of it. Choose a second thing and become a master of that. When you become a master of two worlds (say, engineering and business), you can bring them together in a way that will a) introduce hot ideas to each other, so they can have idea sex and make idea babies that no one has seen before and b) create a competitive advantage because you can move between worlds, speak both languages, connect the tribes, mash the elements to spark fresh creative insight until you wake up with the epiphany that changes your life.
The world doesn’t throw a billion dollars at a person because the person wants it or works so hard they feel they deserve it. (The world does not care what you want or deserve.) The world gives you money in exchange for something it perceives to be of equal or greater value: something that transforms an aspect of the culture, reworks a familiar story or introduces a new one, alters the way people think about the category and make use of it in daily life. There is no roadmap, no blueprint for this; a lot of people will give you a lot of advice, and most of it will be bad, and a lot of it will be good and sound but you’ll have to figure out how it doesn’t apply to you because you’re coming from an unexpected angle. And you’ll be doing it alone, until you develop the charisma and credibility to attract the talent you need to come with you.
Have courage. (You will need it.)
And good luck. (You’ll need that too.)
What should I do to find my passion?
The problem is that we’ve lost any real sense of what ‘passion’ means.
It’s not what gives you bliss or makes you happy 24/7, but what you’re willing to suffer for — what you genuinely believe to be worth the sacrifice.
The next time you feel energized and strong and like the best version of yourself — the you that you wish you could be all the time — pay attention to what you’re doing *in that moment*. Write it down. Do this for as long as it takes until you see a pattern emerging. It won’t necessarily be the activities themselves — but they will have something in common. Look into them and behind them until you find what dramatists call a throughline: the essence of what you’re good at and what drives you.
I spent most of my lifetime thinking that my passion is for writing, and for fiction in particular. But when I stepped back a bit and considered the other activities that light me up and make me feel a sense of wholeness (including my love of social media!), I realized that my passion is for emotional resonance, be it with a friend or spouse or audience or even the culture in general. I like moving into that sweetspot where something in my inner life overlaps with another consciousness, including a kind of group consciousness. That might sound like I should be lighting sticks of incense and showing off my dreamcatcher collection, but it is the *best* feeling. Writing is my main expression of that, but when I find ways to bring it into other areas of my life, I am a happy (happier) woman.
We confuse the activity with the value behind the activity. It’s the value that compels us — and which we can transfer to paid-income work in a way that changes lives (and the industry itself).
What Steve Jobs was passionate about was not computers per se, any more than it was calligraphy or Japanese gardening. It was simplicity*. He made it his obsession and his art. He introduced it to an industry that, as far as it was concerned, was doing just fine without it.
Simplicity drove the Apple identity: the strategy, the products and marketing and branding, the PowerPoint presentations. Simplicity enabled a computer company to connect with mass culture on a deep, emotional level, when Jobs himself was not exactly Oprah (even if he also made people teary-eyed).
Jobs brought it home just as fiercely: the complications of a couch, for example. His living room didn’t require one.
Passion matters — given that you’re likely to spend more time being deeply, truly involved with work that energizes you instead of depletes you — or makes you want to stab your eyes out with your boss’s mont blanc pen.
When you can put in real, focused, quality time, you’re a lot more efficient and can maybe also have a life. Imagine that. 🙂
The replies to the questions (#1 & #2) only suggest the amount of clarity the person has on microscopic aspects of human mind and spirit. It surely comes with a lot of experience with failure (& success) and borrowing ideas and ideologies from the greats (books and interactions) ! I can’t wait to suffer (be passionate about something). If I could get a wee bit closer to the kind of wisdom Justine Musk has shown in just a couple of paragraphs, I would deem any effort worth it! 🙂 The ultimate goal, which I was thinking till now would be defined by numbers (income) has already begun its transformation in to something much much more better! Thanks for inspiring Elon Musk & Justine Musk and thanks Mallik for sharing it!
Featured Image Source: Bloomberg