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Steve Jobs and Elon Musk Are Great Leaders Because They Have These 2 Opposite Traits

Steve Jobs and Elon Musk Are Great Leaders Because They Have These 2 Opposite Traits

It’s the night of November 9th, 2001. The iPod is launching the following morning. Steve Jobs, sits down with a model, plugs in the earphones and listens to a song…only something isn’t right.[1]

Steve tries again, and though it functions, there is something about it he doesn’t like.
So picks up his phone and calls some of his engineers.

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That night, that team of engineers stayed up into the night redesigning and rebuilding the jacks for 100 demo iPods just so they clicked into place correctly. This they did and the iPod went on to revolutionize the way we listen to music.

Was Jobs’ request stressful? Definitely. Unreasonable? Perhaps, but effective.
He encountered something that made him adapt, and used his opinionated, at times forceful style of leadership to achieve success.

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They Stand Firm in Their Beliefs But They’re Not Rigid

Elon Musk[2] too has been known to set the impossible for his employees, much like Steve Jobs, and both men are and were unmatched giants in their respective fields.

Both men are known and remembered for their great leadership ability, and unusual, but effective leadership skills.

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The reason: In presenting their employees such a difficult task, and giving them the freedom and responsibility to take ownership of it, Jobs and Musk allowed their employees to work both for themselves, and for their employers.

This high pressure method of leading could easily be disastrous, if Musk and Jobs didn’t share two character traits, traits that at first seem to oppose each other, but traits that were vital for their success.

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They were opinionated, yet adaptable.

They knew exactly what they wanted, and worked for their goals even when they seemed unlikely or impossible, but were also able to adapt and deviate from their goals in order to fulfill their visions. Many leaders fear changing intentions in case they appear weak, and often times, directly because of this fear, they achieve little success.

There are many examples of businesses and business leaders adapting and changing their original plans to suit new circumstances. Facebook for example, was originally a social network designed for, and exclusive to Harvard students. Nokia was originally a paper company. It took decades for Apple to move into mobile communications…
The opinionated but adaptable character traits be found in some of the greatest leaders in history from Alexander the Great, to Barack Obama, and many in between.

You Can Lead Like Jobs and Musk If You Can Apply These 4 Skills

If being willful, and opinionated, yet adaptable are key traits to great leaders.[3] It could be a good exercise to think of ways you can distill these traits as usable leadership skills. In consideration of the leadership skills of Jobs and Musk, I see four overlapping things.

  • Both men stuck to their opinions and visions, but were willing to change them when presented with new information or changing circumstances (much like the way Steve Jobs found a fault with the headphone jack before the launch of the iPod).
  • Both men trusted their team and their vision so much that they ignored what seemed to be possible so that they could achieve the impossible. It was once said that Jobs had a “reality distortion field”[4] meaning that he believed only in what He thought was possible, and made others believe it too. In the early days of Apple he asked Steve Wozniak to create and build a game for the apple computer. When Jobs detailed his idea, Wozniak said he could build it in a couple months, Jobs had him build it in four days.[5]
  • Both men possess unusual confidence in the work of their companies, themselves, and their employees. The clearest example of this is how Musk has invested $100 million of his own money into SpaceX. In doing so he demonstrates that he is so confident about the work of SpaceX that he is willing to invest a huge amount of money to see its success. Even to the point that he risks the loss of that money.
  • Both men surrounded themselves with the most driven and talented people that they could find, and knew how to use and foster that talent in ways that nobody else could predict. Regarding Jobs again, it is important to note, that although he was a tech innovator, he was neither a programmer, nor an engineer (though of course he probably knew the basics) but was instead more of a designer and businessman. Yet he knew, understood, and was confident in the talents of those around them, those in possession of talents that he lacked, so much that he made them do things that they themselves didn’t think they could achieve. Being around such talent also enabled people to take charge (to an extent) of projects as he knew that they could get the job done.

Reference

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Arthur Peirce

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Last Updated on October 16, 2019

Invaluable Lessons You Can Learn From Your Mistakes

Invaluable Lessons You Can Learn From Your Mistakes

Do you like making mistakes?

I certainly don’t.

Making mistakes is inevitable. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could be at ease with them?

Perhaps there is a way to think of them differently and see their benefits.

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Why Mistakes Feel Dangerous

Mistakes often feel dangerous. Throughout human history, our errors have often been treated as dangerous for a variety of reasons:

  • Our vulnerability. We have limited and fragile support systems. When those systems fail, people often lose their lives.
  • Real dangers. Nature can be dangerous, and making mistakes can put us at the mercy of nature and its animal residents seeking a meal.
  • Ignorance. Many cultures scapegoats someone whenever there is a failure of some kind. Scapegoating can be serious and deadly.
  • Order. Many societies punish those who do not conform to the prevailing orthodoxy and treat difference and non-conformity as a mistake. Even our brains flash an error message whenever we go against prevailing social norms.

We have a history of handling mistakes and failure in an unpleasant way. Since each of us carries our human history with us, it can be a challenge to overcome the fear of making mistakes.

If we can embrace the reality of mistakes, we can free ourselves to be more creative in our lives and dig up some interesting insights.

Why We Can’t Avoid Making Mistakes

Many people operate under the notion that making mistakes is an aberration, a mistake if you will. You can call it perfectionism but it is a more substantial problem. It is really a demand for order and continuity.

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When we think we can eliminate mistakes, we are often working from a perspective that sees the world as a fixed place. The world, however, is not so obliging. Like it or not, the world, and everything in it, is constantly changing.

Change is more constant and pervasive than we can see with our own eyes which is why we often miss it. Our bodies are constantly changing. The natural conditions of the earth change constantly as well. Everything, including economic and cultural systems have life cycles. Everything is in a constant state of flux.

We cannot see all of the changes going on around us since rates of change vary. Unfortunately, when we try to create a feeling of certainty and solidity in our lives or operate from the illusion of stability and order, we are fighting reality and our natural evolution which is built on adapting to change.

It is better to continually bend into this reality rather than fight every change we experience. Fighting it can cause us to make more mistakes. Finding the benefits in change can be useful and help us minimize unnecessary mistakes.

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Lessons Learned from Making Mistakes

Life has so many uncertainties and variables that mistakes are inevitable. Fortunately, there are many things you can learn from making mistakes.

Here is a list of ways to harness the mistakes you make for your benefit.

  1. Point us to something we did not know.
  2. Reveal a nuance we missed.
  3. Deepen our knowledge.
  4. Tell us something about our skill levels.
  5. Help us see what matters and what does not.
  6. Inform us more about our values.
  7. Teach us more about others.
  8. Let us recognize changing circumstances.
  9. Show us when someone else has changed.
  10. Keep us connected to what works and what doesn’t work.
  11. Remind us of our humanity.
  12. Spur us to want to better work which helps us all.
  13. Promote compassion for ourselves and others.
  14. Teach us to value forgiveness.
  15. Help us to pace ourselves better.
  16. Invite us to better choices.
  17. Can teach us how to experiment.
  18. Can reveal a new insight.
  19. Can suggest new options we had not considered.
  20. Can serve as a warning.
  21. Show us hidden fault lines in our lives which can lead us to more productive arrangements.
  22. Point out structural problems in our lives.
  23. Prompt us to learn more about ourselves.
  24. Remind us how we are like others.
  25. Make us more humble.
  26. Help us rectify injustices in our lives.
  27. Show us where to create more balance in our lives.
  28. Tell us when the time to move on has occurred.
  29. Reveal where our passion is and where it is not.
  30. Expose our true feelings.
  31. Bring out problems in a relationship.
  32. Can be a red flag for our misjudgments.
  33. Point us in a more creative direction.
  34. Show us when we are not listening.
  35. Wake us up to our authentic selves.
  36. Can create distance with someone else.
  37. Slow us down when we need to.
  38. Can hasten change.
  39. Reveal our blind spots.
  40. Are the invisible made visible.

Reframe Reality to Handle Mistakes More Easily

The secret to handling mistakes is to:

  • Expect them as part of the process of growth and development.
  • Have an experimental mindset.
  • Think in evolutional rather than fixed terms.

When we accept change as the natural structure of the world, our vulnerability and humanness lets us work with the ebb and flow of life.

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When we recognize the inevitability of mistakes as part of the ongoing experiment which life is, then we can relax more. In doing so we may make fewer of them.

It also helps to keep in mind that trial and error is an organic natural way of living. It is how we have evolved over time. It is better to be with our natural evolution than to fight it and make life harder.

When we adopt an evolutional mindset and see ourselves as part of the ongoing human experiment, we can appreciate that all that has been built up over time which includes the many mistakes our ancestors have made over thousands of years. Each one of us today is a part of that human tradition of learning and experimenting,

Mistakes are part of the trial and error, experimental nature of life. The more you adopt the experimental, evolutional frame, the easier it becomes to handle mistakes.

Handling mistakes well can help you relax and enjoy all aspects of life more.

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Featured photo credit: Sarah Kilian via unsplash.com

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