You limit your imagination by what you know

Elon Musk

I’ve been catching up on my instapaper and liking the interview with Elon Musk by Chris Anderson

Chris Anderson compares and singles out Elon Musk and Steve Jobs as serial disrupter’s.

It is no surprise, then, that Musk has often been referred to of late as “the next Steve Jobs.” The comparison I want to make between them, however, is not just in the diversity and scale of their achievements. It’s also in their thought processes. I see in them a mental trait that is incredibly rare, a trait that has made me a huge admirer of both men, and of their creations.

So what is their unique brand of genius? Here’s how I think of it: system-level design thinking powered by extraordinary conviction. Each of those italicized phrases is critical.

I like what Chris picks out in them both. Although not a fan of Steve Jobs choices and direction later with media and computing. I do respect his brilliance of thought. Elon is frankly the tony stark of the real world. I can’t say enough about his achievements and I’m sure many more are to come.

I love the way he thinks… as he gets going in this paragraph about the spaceX.

“What I mean by that is, boil things down to their fundamental truths and reason up from there, as opposed to reasoning by analogy. Through most of our life, we get through life by reasoning by analogy, which essentially means copying what other people do with slight variations. And you have to do that. Otherwise, mentally, you wouldn’t be able to get through the day,” he said. “But when you want to do something new, you have to apply the physics approach. Physics is really figuring out how to discover new things that are counterintuitive.” Reasoning by analogy would be someone in 1900 thinking that the way to get faster transport was to breed stronger horses. You limit your imagination to a simple extension of what you already know. That is not how the world changes.

What is there not to love? Its a good interview and full of good observations.

Well here’s some passing words to think about…

Dream big! Don’t focus on making money! Work for an idea that’s bigger than you are! Broaden your mind! Embrace thinking from outside disciplines! Expose yourself to the world’s most inspiring designs and designers! Make things as simple as they can be (and no simpler)! Immerse yourself in science and leading-edge technologies! Don’t be limited by what’s gone before! Play with radical outside-the-box future possibilities and keep playing until you find something really big that you believe in!

Author: Ianforrester

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser.

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