James Altucher - investor, writer, entrepreneur and podcast guru - provided quite an answer in list form this morning.
I never interviewed Elon Musk but inspired by your question I listened to every interview he ever did and compiled what I think are the most inspirational quotes to me.
They may not be inspirational to you. Inspiration is somewhat of a risk: it takes you outside the world you once knew and introduces you to a new thought, person, idea, or something totally unexpected.
So I wrote down the quotes and what I think I learned from them. Maybe as I think of them more I'll learn more. I don't know.
Here are the inspirational quotes from Elon Musk that stuck with me:
1. "If something is important enough, even if the odds are against you, you should still do it."
I was thinking: what if it really is impossible.
But Elon Musk then takes it to the next level always: "let's go to Mars".
Or "let's make a billion dollar battery factory." So at the very least it's always worth exploring the delicious curvature of the impossible.
2. "Going from PayPal, I thought: ‘Well, what are some of the other problems that are likely to most affect the future of humanity?' Not from the perspective, ‘What's the best way to make money?"
I've interviewed over 100 people now on my podcast. Each of the 100 have achieved amazing results in their life.
That's a subjective opinion. "Amazing" to me.
But none of them have done if for the money. I was talking to Coolio, for instance, who had the best selling song of 1995.
He started writing lyrics every day in 1977. It took him 17 years to have a single hit.
"Never do something for the money, " Coolio told me.
3. "(Physics is) a good framework for thinking. Boil things down to their fundamental truths and reason up from there."
My guess is he is not referring specifically to the science and theories of physics but the act of visualizing something, coming up with an idea or a theory of why it might be true, and then figuring out how to prove that theory.
To me, thats what physics is. Since the rules are constantly changing, which is another fascinating aspect of physics.
4. "The first step is to establish that something is possible; then probability will occur."
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