Can India produce Elon Musk

Elon Musk says he owes his success to a decision-making method that Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla also used

At 46, Elon Musk developed and built three groundbreaking multibillion dollar companies in a variety of fields - Paypal (financial services), Tesla (automobiles), and SpaceX (aerospace). In addition, there is the company Solar City (solar energy), which he helped build and which he acquired for 2.6 billion US dollars.

You'd think Musk's success, unique problem-solving skills, and creativity could be explained by an outstanding work ethic. Musk himself announced that he worked 100 hours a week for over 15 years and only recently reduced it to 85 hours a week. There are also rumors that Musk doesn't even take lunch breaks. It is said that multitasking between meals, meetings and emails is the order of the day.

Undoubtedly, work ethic plays an important role when it comes to developing creativity and increasing competence. But work ethic is not everything - there are people who, despite their extreme diligence, make little progress and may die before they have fully exhausted their possibilities. So what is the link between innovative creativity and rapid success?

Just like Elon Musk, some of the most brilliant minds of all time, including Aristotle, Euclid, Thomas Edison, Richard Feynman, and Nikola Tesla, used a concept to learn faster, solve complex problems, and ultimately do great things in their lives. This concept is less about how hard you work. The focus is on the way of thinking.

You can also use this ingenious problem-solving method. We'll tell you how to do it.

Recipe for success: thinking according to the "First Principle"

In an interview with TED curator Chris Anderson, Musk revealed the secret he attributes to his ingenious creativity and success. Musk calls it "First Principle Reasoning". He is referring to a philosophy of science.

Musk: “I think there is a good space for reflection. It's physics. You know, those kinds of rationale are at stake. What I mean by that is to reduce things to their basic truths and reason, and not to inferences by analogy. For most of our lives we come through life by reasoning by analogy, which essentially means copying, with slight variations, what other people do. "

When thinking according to the “First Principle”, however, it is a matter of actively questioning every assumption about a certain problem or scenario and then producing new knowledge and new approaches to solutions. Almost like a newborn baby.

In contrast, inferences by analogy are based on already established knowledge, assumptions and convictions. Here one follows the principle of "best practices", ie those methods that are advocated by the majority of people.

Basically, the concept of the “First Principle” can help you develop a unique worldview, be innovative and solve problems in a way that no one else can imagine.

With these simple three steps, you can follow the Musk recommended method.

Step 1: Identify and formulate your assumptions

Einstein said: "If I had an hour to solve a problem, I would think about the problem for 55 minutes and think about solutions for 5 minutes."

Here are some everyday examples from the world of business, healthcare, and the art world:

"Building my company costs too much money."

"To become a successful artist, I have to struggle and gnaw on my hunger."

"I just don't have enough time to set myself clear weight loss goals and achieve them."

So the next time you face a known problem or challenge, just write down your assumptions. (You can pause here and write them down now.)

Step 2: Break the problem down to its basic principles

“It is important to see knowledge as a kind of semantic tree. The trunk and the thick branches of the tree are the basic principles that you need to understand first. Only then do you devote yourself to the leaves, the details. After all, these hang on the branches, ”says Elon Musk.

The basic principles mentioned are the relevant elements and truths about a certain issue. The best way to uncover these elements is to ask basic questions. In an interview with Kevin Rose, Musk gave an example of how this works:

“You could say: Batteries are really expensive and they always will be. In the past, batteries have cost $ 600 per kilowatt hour. It won't be much better in the future.

With the 'First Principle' concept, you ask yourself: 'What are the components of batteries? What is the market value of the material components? ‘Batteries contain cobalt, nickel, aluminum, carbon, some polymers for separation and a sealant. Break that down to its physical components and ask yourself, 'What would these things cost on the London Metal Exchange?'

That works out to about $ 80 per kilowatt hour. So you just have to think about how these materials can be cleverly combined to make a battery. So you can get batteries that are much cheaper than you thought. "

This is what thinking according to the “First Principle” looks like. Instead of following the most accepted assumption that batteries are expensive, Musk questions this belief. He asks questions that reveal the basic principles and components. In this case, these include carbon, nickel and aluminum, among others. In this way he creates innovative solutions from scratch.

Step 3: Develop new solutions

The US philosopher Mortimer Adler said: "A person who says that he knows what he is thinking but cannot express it usually does not know what he is thinking."

Once you have identified your problems or assumptions and broken them down into their basic truths, you can develop new, insightful solutions.

Here are three simple everyday examples of how this works (steps 1 through 3).

Assumption: "Building my company costs too much money."

Thinking according to the "First Principle" concept:

What do you need to build a profitable business? You need to sell products or services to more customers.

Does it have to cost a lot of money to sell to new customers? Not necessarily, but we will likely need to find inexpensive access to these customers.

Who has this access? And how can we achieve a win-win deal? You could partner with other companies serving the same customer and split the profit between 50-50.

Assumption: "I just don't have enough time to set myself clear weight loss goals and to achieve them."

Thinking according to the "First Principle" concept:

What do you really need to achieve your weight loss goals? You have to train more, preferably five times a week for an hour each time.

Can you lose weight if you exercise less often? If so, what can it look like? You could try exercising for 15 minutes each three days a week. If these workouts are intense full-body workouts, you can accelerate fat loss.

Assumption: "To become a successful artist, I have to struggle and gnaw my hunger."

Thinking according to the "First Principle" concept:

What do you need to do outstanding work and live a good life as an artist? A sufficiently large audience that appreciates and buys your art.

What do you need to reach a bigger audience? You probably need to do some marketing. But what if you don't like promoting yourself?

Is there a way for you guys to promote your work without looking shoddy? Yes, if the focus in selling the artwork is on a specific purpose that serves the audience. So you could earn more money in order to make more art and to reach more people.

Think differently, too

When faced with complex problems, most people think similarly at first. Thinking according to the “first principle” concept is an effective method to get out of this herd mentality, to think outside the box and to develop new solutions to known problems.

By identifying your assumptions, breaking them down into their basic truths, and creating solutions from scratch, you can find ingenious solutions to complex problems and make a unique contribution.

Mayo Oshin published at There he writes about practical concepts on the subjects of science, art, philosophy, strategic thinking and decision-making. Here you can subscribe to his free weekly newsletter.