Elon Musk: Successful Leader or Business Addict?

Being a successful leader does not mean that you have to sell your soul to the devil, or in fact to your business. Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tweets that no one changed the world working 40 hours a week, but I disagree. You can change your world, your inner landscape in much less time. And I believe that someone that spends (reportedly) 120 hours a week working has a whole heap of inner demons clamouring to be seen, heard and valued. Getting to know these inner triggers and unconscious drivers is much more valuable to business than supporting the culture of working your fingers to the bone in order to ‘make things happen’.

Our culture celebrates those that are seen to succeed and those that bring innovation. Our definition of success is measured by money and status. Yet this way of deeming if someone has ‘made it’ is dysfunctional and, in the way that academia is only one way to measure a child’s ability to grow up whole, it is a limited view of a complex subject.

Work, is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as, ‘mental or physical activity as a means of earning income or achieving a result’ is not the only purpose we have nor is it the reason we are here. We are here to experience all that we can, to be the fullest expression of ourselves, to learn to overcome challenge with grace, to be strong within ourselves, give voice to our unique message authentically and from the heart, to effectively communicate with others and most of all we are here to be. Being is underrated, yet if we all were to be ourselves without limitation, condition or fear of judgement, knowing we are success in living, the world would change right now

Does leadership really mean the forfeiture of family life and physical, mental and spiritual coherence?

s working 80-120 hours a week anything other than addiction? Addiction to the drug of proving self-worth. Is working at the expense of self to achieve higher income or status an outdated cultural paradigm that is being held onto by those that know no different, by those addicted to filling the void and overcoming the pain of low self worth?

Russell Brand has quoted that trauma is the gateway drug to addiction, and I agree with him. Trauma is part of human life, and we all hold different trauma within us, unhealed trauma leads to pain, in particular emotional pain. One antidote is to find something to cover it up (the pain, the void, the emptiness within, the search for something more) to distract from it. Some find alcohol, drugs, caffeine, food, serial relationships, obsessive exercise, and any number of other things. Some find work. Some find passion in work and some use this passion as the band aid over a festering wound of self loathing.

Elon Musk, in his 2017 interview with Rolling Stone magazine, talked opening about the difficult relationship he had with his father. How he had a “miserable childhood” and how his father was “a terrible human being”. He describes the lack of faith his father had in him, telling him ‘he was never going to make it’. Elon then goes on to become a millionaire in his late 20s and set up the world changing companies of (to name a few) Paypal, Tesla and SpaceX. Proving without doubt that he has ‘made it’. But has he?

Working 120 hours a week, rarely seeing his kids and having difficulty sleeping, is that making it, is anything worth that?

When does business need to extract that kind of punishment? It is punishment. Unconscious punishment for not being good enough to be loved. Attaching to one quality of living at the detriment to everything else. More than that it is co-dependancy. Only feeling valued or worthy when engaging in work.

Where is the self-compassion, where is empathy, where is the self-love, where is knowing when to take a break and recharge. Where is the ability to self manage and explore the pain that brings out the dysfunction, addiction and self absorption.

A whole person, a leader modelling excellence would build these qualities within them, would lead their workforce by example and would build a culture of self-growth in their most valuable business asset, themselves and their people.

Changing the world, begins within you. You can do it in a short amount of time by committing to living coherently, and by committing to filling the void within you with self knowledge, self love, self compassion and passion for your whole life.

A leader without a life is an empty shell and dysfunctional role model. This is not success, however much their company is changing the world.

Success comes with being whole. Leading from a whole heart, being independent from the business, yet invested in its growth and value. It radiates energetically through healthy relationships in both personal, business and spiritual aspects of life and shines a light into the world of possibility. The possibility that it (the world) can change and will change when we celebrate leaders who are not only full of passion for their message and product but are as full of compassion for themselves.

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