Being Elon Musk

Being John Malkovich was an iconic film about being inside the head of that actor and how everyone was making their way through it.

Given Elon Musk’s recent admission of the “excruciating” personal toll of Tesla on him and given all of our hopes — and possible bets on the future — rest on the shoulders of the world’s preeminent visionary, I thought to offer some Insight about what his mind might be going through to not just help him, but also help other visionaries that deal with similar overwhelming challenges.

What qualifies me to do this?

I am an empath and some people have referred to me as a “people hacker” in that I have some skills in hacking empathically into people’s minds which over the years has enabled me to prevent some suicides by going into patients’ dark night of the soul.

Hacking into Musk, this is a map of what may be going on in his mind.

Vision → Collective exuberance from world → Adrenaline → Momentum → Power → Obstacles → Stress → Too many obstacles → Distress → Outer risk of humiliation → Inner experience of shame → Self-doubt → Thoughts of “as right as you thought you were is as wrong as you turned out to be” → Not in control → Fear of going out of control → Isolation → Constriction → Panic of shattering and never making it back to sanity → Desperate (“wild” as viewed by Boards of Directors) actions to prevent entering into the abyss from which there you perceive there is no return → Crash and burn → Thoughts of self-destruction

Many of these emotional states may not apply and hopefully Musk, or that visionary entrepreneur you’re worried about, is nowhere near the end.

But if you can track along this journey as this visionary or as an entrepreneur adrenaline junkie avatar and see and more importantly feel how it applies to you, you’re no doubt asking, “What can be done about this?”

There are two tipping points along this journey. A tipping point is that place in a reaction where afterwards, it picks up speed like a “runaway train” and it is very difficult to stop.

The first tipping point is between stress → too many obstacles → distress. When you’re under stress, you can still remain focused on your goals and with difficulty move towards them. The more persistent, tenacious and resilient you are, the more you’ll be able to do that. However, when the “too many obstacles” becomes too overwhelming, you cross over into “distress.” At that point your focus is completely on alleviating the distress at any cost. You can do that through running away, drinking or taking opiates or in Musk’s case, taking Ambien and hoping you don’t become hooked on it.

The second tipping point is between “not in control → fear of going out of control.” That is a tipping point, because many of the individuals’ identities that we are referring to — be it a Musk, a Jobs, a Picasso or an Einstein — are aligned around being in control. To them, being not in control is tantamount to being out of control and being out of control is very close to shattering and never coming back.

But fortunately for them and us, these individuals don’t go off the deep end (as you or I might). What prevents that is that when they reach the point of “not in control” they find a way to surrender. And usually what they surrender in to is “awareness” vs. thinking. Awareness from their immediate breathing to a mantra that they’re meditating on, to a Vipassana retreat, to an Iowaska trip to finding religion, to finding a new love/lust interest (eh tu Picasso?).

When they are in a state of surrender, that allows their mind (thinking/feeling/acting) which is out of alignment to a new reality to safely come apart, reconfigure and realign with the new reality.

Something else to keep in mind. If you ask many entrepreneurs how often their breakthroughs were preceded by uninvited, painful and often terrifying breakdowns (as their minds decoupled when unaligned with a changed reality), most will say frequently.

The secret is to not do something so destructive after the breakdown that you miss the breakthrough because you’re so busy apologizing or making up to people for the horrendous things you did to cope with the breakdown.

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Dr. Goulston is co-founder of Michelangelo Mindset, a speaker, MG100 Coach & the author of "Just Listen,” the top book on listening in the world.

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Mark Goulston

Mark Goulston

Dr. Goulston is co-founder of Michelangelo Mindset, a speaker, MG100 Coach & the author of "Just Listen,” the top book on listening in the world.

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