How to learn like Elon
We are big fans of Elon Musk here at Full Circle Coaching and Consulting.
Maybe it’s the fact that he has created 4 different multi-billion dollar companies in 4 different fields by his mid 40s – (technology, aerospace, automotive, and energy).
Or perhaps it is the fact that he pulled off the impossible when he pre-sold 400,000 Tesla Model III’s without any advertising prior to the streaming video that covered the launch.
Or maybe it’s the fact that his great grandmother was the very first chiropractor to practice in Canada.
No matter which part you look at, Elon’s career and roots are impressive to us. However, today we will focus on one of his greatest strengths and how that has helped propel him to the top of industry.
And NO, we are not talking about his drive that regularly see’s him work 85+ hours a week, or his world changing vision, or his incredible resilience. Lots of people have these characteristics and do not experience success.
We are going to talk about his amazing ability to accelerate his learning. Lets think about it, Elon Musk is literally an expert in multiple fields including, economics, physics, rocket science, artificial intelligence, and solar energy.
How did he learn all of this, but more importantly, how does he connect them all together to create enormously successful and groundbreaking businesses and products?
Elon Musk is what many call an “expert generalist”. An expert generalist is defined as someone who has studied widely in many different fields, understands deeper principles that connect those fields, and then applies the principles to their core specialty.
Now wait a minute – weren’t we all warned not to become a “jack of all trades, master of none”? Conventional wisdom has encouraged focused learning with a singular area of expertise to gain mastery and by assumption – success.
However, if we look at history, this assumption is simply not true, especially in today’s world of rapid innovation.
Expert generalists always have had advantages especially in terms of innovation. For example, if you are working in the tech industry but understand health physiology then you have insights that can be used to link the two fields and come up with new ideas.
People who remain in silos with a singular focus of expertise maintain a distinct disadvantage in terms of innovation.
Think about what life would be like today if Leonardo DaVinci had focused on only one area of expertise!
So how do we train like an expert generalist?
According to Elon Musk’s brother, Kimbal, as a teenager he read 2 books a day!
That equates to 730 books a year!
To compare that someone who reads one book a month that means that Musk reads 60 times more than the average human being.
This puts him at a distinct advantage from a learning perspective.
Initially, Musk read encyclopedias, science fiction, philosophy, religion, and biographies of scientists, entrepreneurs and engineers. Later he broadened his reading into physics, engineering, business, design, energy, and other topics he was not exposed to in school.
His thirst for knowledge fueled his exposure to expansive subject matter.
Some other notable leaders that all dedicate time daily for deliberate learning include Oprah Winfrey, Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Marc Cuban, Mark Zuckerberg and Dr. John Demartini.
One of the best ways that you can increase your reading capacity is to subscribe to an audiobook provider such as Audible.com. Listening to an audiobook while commuting to work or shoveling the driveway is the best way to upgrade the use of your time.
Zig Ziglar was famous for preaching the benefits of “automobile university”.
Reading is not Enough!
Sure, accelerating your reading will help you grow but the real magic is to truly study and reflect on core principles of each field you are studying. When you spend time reflecting and writing notes on the material you are learning, it becomes much easier to link core principles from various fields together.
Learning transfer is taking what we learn in one context and applying it to another. This happens when we take a piece of knowledge that we learn from a book and apply it to our life in the real world. It can also be taking what we learn in one industry and applying it to another.
This is where Musk shines. First, he deconstructs knowledge into fundamental principles. Then he reconstructs principles and applies them to new fields. He has done this over and over every time he turns industry upside down by launching reusable rockets, self-driving cars, and solar panel roof shingles.
How do we apply this?
The key is that learning alone is not enough, although it is the first step. We must take time to reflect on what we have learned in order to expand our awareness.
Our experience is that people generally do not invest enough time in themselves to complete this cycle of reflection. As a result, they often do not integrate what they have learned into their life.
If you don’t take the time to integrate then your life will not expand.
Personally, I commit time every morning to improving myself and preparing for success by getting up early and meditating, reciting affirmations, exercising, reading, and writing. This is the time when I create new ideas and integrate new knowledge.
It is from this that I develop clear action steps and strategies to apply to my life.
So commit today to creating a dedicated learning plan.
Set aside specific time everyday to reflect on these learnings and apply your new wisdom. Finally, take action by experimenting with your new learning transfer and testing it out in your life.
You owe it to yourself, your family, and humanity to be the best version of you that you can be.
Step into your greatness and keep expanding.
If you would like some help getting started or would like to learn more about how Full Circle Coaching and Consulting can help you begin to expand your life and business, our team of coaches are here to help.
Book your free call here!