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Too Short for a Blog Post, Too Long for a Tweet LV
Here are two excerpts from a book I just read, "Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future," by Ashlee Vance.
Musk’s behavior matches up much more closely with someone
who is described by neuropsychologists as profoundly gifted. These are
people who in childhood exhibit exceptional intellectual depth and max
out IQ tests. It’s not uncommon for these children to look out into the
world and find flaws—glitches in the system—and construct logical paths
in their minds to fix them. For Musk, the call to ensure that mankind is
a multiplanetary species partly stems from a life richly influenced by
science fiction and technology. Equally it’s a moral imperative that
dates back to his childhood. In some form, this has forever been his
Each facet of Musk’s life might be an attempt to soothe a
type of existential depression that seems to gnaw at his every fiber. He
sees man as self-limiting and in peril and wants to fix the situation.
The people who suggest bad ideas during meetings or make mistakes at
work are getting in the way of all of this and slowing Musk down. He
does not dislike them as people. It’s more that he feels pained by their
mistakes, which have consigned man to peril that much longer. The
perceived lack of emotion is a symptom of Musk sometimes feeling like
he’s the only one who really grasps the urgency of his mission. He’s
less sensitive and less tolerant than other people because the stakes
are so high. Employees need to help solve the problems to the absolute
best of their ability or they need to get out of the way.
I’m more convinced than ever that Musk is, and has always
been, a man on a quest, and that his brand of quest is far more
fantastic and consuming than anything most of us will ever experience.
It seems that he’s become almost addicted to expanding his ambitions and
can’t quite stop himself from announcing things like the Hyperloop and
the space Internet. I’m also more convinced than ever that Musk is a
deeply emotional person who suffers and rejoices in an epic fashion.
This side of him is likely obscured by the fact that he feels most
deeply about his own humanity-altering quest and so has trouble
recognizing the strong emotions of those around him. This tends to make
Musk come off as aloof and hard. I would argue, however, that his brand
of empathy is unique. He seems to feel for the human species as a whole
without always wanting to consider the wants and needs of individuals.
And it may well be the case that this is exactly the type of person it
takes to make a freaking space Internet real.