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IPFS News Link • Education: Unschooling

Elon Musk Owes His Success to This Accelerated Learning Process Used by Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla

• Inc.

-It's easy to link Elon Musk's rapid success, ability to solve unsolvable problems, and genius-level creativity to his incredible work ethic.

-But during a one-on-one interview with TED curator Chris Anderson, Musk attributed to his genius-level creativity and success to a method of reasoning called first principles.

-First-principles thinking works like this: First, you identify and define your assumptions; then, you break down the problem into its fundamental principles; and, lastly, you create new solutions from scratch.

By the age of 46, Elon Musk has innovated and built three revolutionary multibillion-dollar companies in different fields -- Paypal (financial services), Tesla (automotive), and SpaceX (aerospace).

This list doesn't include Solar City (energy), which he helped build and acquired for $2.6 billion.

At first glance, it's easy to link his rapid success, ability to solve unsolvable problems, and genius-level creativity to his incredible work ethic.

Musk himself said that he worked 100 hours a week for over 15 years and recently scaled down to 85 hours. Rumor also has it that he doesn't even take lunch breaks, multitasking between eating, meetings, and responding to emails all at the same time.

No doubt work ethic plays an important role in unlocking your inner creative genius and becoming the best at what you do -- but there's more to this -- there are extremely hardworking people who still make little progress in life and die before sharing their best work with the world.

What, then, is this missing link for innovative creativity and accelerated success?

Just like Musk, some of the most brilliant minds of all-time -- Aristotle, Euclid, Thomas Edison, Feynman, and Nikola Tesla -- use this missing link for accelerated learning, solving difficult problems, and creating great work in their lifetime.

This missing link has little to do with how hard they work. It has everything to do with how they think.

Let's talk about how you can use this genius problem solving method.

First-principles thinking

During a one-on-one interview with TED curator Chris Anderson, Musk revealed this missing link, which he attributes to his genius-level creativity and success. It's called reasoning from first principles.

Musk: Well, I do think there's a good framework for thinking. It is physics. You know, the sort of first-principles reasoning. Generally, I think there are -- 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.

First-principles thinking is basically the practice of actively questioning every assumption you think you know about a given problem or scenario, and then creating new knowledge and solutions from scratch. Almost like a newborn baby.

On the flip side, reasoning by analogy is building knowledge and solving problems based on prior assumptions, beliefs, and widely held "best practices" approved by majority of people.


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