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  • Writer's pictureCalvin

Maniacal

I recently finished the biography of Elon Musk.  And it was certainly an enlightening read.  Many props to Walter Isaacson (the author) for putting in the work and shadowing Elon for two years to produce such an invigorating piece of non-fiction for us to enjoy.


Elon certainly doesn’t have it good.  Even though he is a billionaire, I don’t really envy his situation, nor do I necessarily agree with his management style, even though it has obviously produced tremendous results.  He drives his employees literally to the brink of insanity and pushes them through hell and high water for the sake of revolutionary missions, whether that be changing the face of AI, putting humanity onto Mars, or revamping the energy industry of the world.


I am deeply admirable of his “passion”.  And I put that word into quotes because sometimes that passion borders on maniacal intensity and I’m not so sure that it is healthy for him or his employees in the long run.  I hear that he is having depression as of this year and seeing a therapist as well. 


But yes, reading Elon’s book does make me feel respectful for his ingenuity.  But it does not produce the sort of envy that I expected to have about reading about one of the richest and most impactful men on the planet.  Top 5 I believe?  If not, definitely Top 10.


It on the contrary, makes me relatively satisfied with my relatively normal life living in the suburbs of New York City.  Being well-off enough and not needing to cede to the publicity of being a multi-billionaire CEO, with everyone analyzing your every next move. 


I’m not even sure if this is what Elon wanted when he set out on his grand missions to change humanity for the “better”.  And I again put better in quotations because I’m not necessarily sure if his tactics actually do benefit people in the long run, particularly his employees. 


I know that in society, we tend to have this belief that more is more.  That we need to continue to achieve big things.  That we need to make more money.  That we need to have as many friends and social connections as possible.  That we need to continue to grow.  After all, the more is better.


But honestly, we also need to know when enough to enough.  To know when we’ve kind of hit that point where we know we already have a good life.  And yes, we can certainly want more and strive for better.  But at the same time, we sometimes need to take our foot off the proverbial gas pedal to smell the roses and know when we have enough.  We can feel both sufficient and content yet continue to better oneself.


Those things are not mutually exclusive.  And I don’t know if Elon knows that nor adheres to that school of thought.  I’ve learned that he has a condition called Asperger’s, which kind of makes him unable to read subtle cues from people, which has obviously hindered his emotional relationship with the people in his life.


That reminds me of a quote from Naval Ravikant, who says that when we try to envy someone, we need to envy his entire life.  Not just part of his life.  If we envy Elon, we shouldn’t just envy his money nor his fame.  We need to envy the whole entire package – from his money to his failures to his rocky relationships to his debatable thoughts to his current state of mind.  Everything.  But, if we do that, we then eventually realize that even the best of us comes with warts and vulnerabilities that we do not desire at all.  And only then, we do realize that this type of envy is not a healthy way to go thru life.


It is very respectable that Elon approved of his autobiography for the entire world to read and know.  That takes some courage, especially given all the problems that he’s had to face throughout his life – from family to career to health scares.  It really is a deep dive into one of the most fantastical minds on the planet. 


I respect his “passion” and his desire for “better”.  I respect his openness.  But again, I do not want to become him nor do I want his assets or possessions, because that in itself can lead to a whole bunch of other consequences that I am not ready nor prepared for.


I would say that I’ve learned much about Elon’s inner workings through the reading.  And it has made me ironically much more content with my quiet, middle-class lifestyle.  After all, not everybody needs to reach for the stars and revolutionize the entire world with some grand impenetrable mission.


It’s okay to simply enjoy your life and live it the slow way.  The world needs people like that as well.  The world needs people of all creeds and cultures.  So, if you want to drive yourself maniacally, go for it.  If you want to just take it easy on yourself, do that. 


At the end of the day, we should be content with who we are and what we do.  We should respect others for their similarities and differences.  And we should learn from each other’s flaws an

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