Throughout history we tend to remember bold thinkers. Try changing the world while being un-bold. Elon Musk revels in thinking big, from inventing the most exciting car company of the 21st century (Tesla) to making space travel a reality (SpaceX). At the last count, Musk has disrupted at least five different industries (Payments, Cars, Space, Transport and Batteries). Even among fellow entrepreneurs, the scale of Musk's risk taking sets him apart from most entrepreneurs who tackle the world's biggest problems.  

3 Rules For More Courage.

1. The Biggest Risk You Can Take Is Not Taking A Risk.

In a world where uncertainty is high, you can afford to take risks as long as you fail cheap, learn fast and move on. Musk shows that you must disrupt your usual ways of thinking in order to get started. He gave himself a 100-day timeline to fix South Australia's power network by building the world's largest battery farm in the world or declared it would be free. Setting a self-imposed deadline is a powerful way to get momentum and close the gap from talk to action. What bold new idea are you ready to commit to today?

2. Failure Pioneer.

One of the most popular books among entrepreneurs is the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius's Meditations. This seminal book is based around a single cogent idea: "You have power over your mind -- not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength." Musk would probably be the first to apply this mantra to his own life. His story is a model for overcoming obstacles, fighting for what you believe in, and not giving up. He comes from a foundation of deep humility. It's OK to be wrong. It's OK to fail. It doesn't make you a worthless human being. In an interview for CNN's Top 10 Thinkers, he says: "When starting out Tesla and SpaceX, in both cases, I thought the odds of success were less than 50%... So it's not as though I was convinced that it would all work. I thought, 'Well, it probably won't work, but it's worth a try because the outcome is important."

3. Viking Spirit.

Musk is brave not just in his words but his actions, and he uses failure in a systematic way to pivot fast. He says: "We should not be afraid of doing something just because some amount of failure is likely to occur. If our forefathers had taken that approach, the United States wouldn't exist." Like modern-day explorers ascending K2 or reaching the North Pole, Musk has what the Finnish call sisu, a flair for "extraordinary determination and resoluteness in the face of extreme adversity". It takes sisu to jump into the unknown and embrace uncertainty. Where sisu flourishes, entrepreneurs report higher levels of hope (unshakeable self-belief), optimism (expecting good things to happen), perseverance (commitment to the purpose and not giving up easily), and resilience (ability to adapt to obstacles and recover quickly). 

Next Steps.

As 2017 comes to a close, what future are you prepared to commit to? It's not easy to close the door and jump into the unknown, bringing your boldest self to your biggest challenges. Our default setting is to stay in familiar surroundings and accept defeat before even trying. How many times have you thought about a game-changing idea only to let it melt away like snow under the sun? This is known as the "zone of regret". As Musk shows you have to show up every day, be courageous and remember the cost of trying anything in life will never be as painful as never knowing. Happy New Year!

Published on: Dec 30, 2017