Get Hell Bent on Making it Work

February 22, 2011

“Optimism, pessimism, f**k that; we’re going to make it happen. As God is my bloody witness, I’m hell-bent on making it work.”
— Elon Musk (1971 – ) CEO of SpaceX, after failure of the third launch of Falcon-1

From 2006-2008, after four years of design and development, Musk’s company SpaceX tried and failed 3 times to launch the Falcon-1 rocket into orbit. Then in Sept 2008 it finally succeeded on the 4th try. In July 2009, on its 5th try, it became the first privately financed launch vehicle to boost a commercial payload (a Malaysian satellite) into orbit. These rockets have all been launched at a fraction of the cost of what it takes NASA to do it. Musk’s vision is straightforward – to reduce the cost and increase the reliability of space access by a factor of ten in order to re-ignite humanity’s efforts to explore and develop Space. It looks like his company has the cost part handled – and is now making great strides towards reliability. As a side note, he’s also the founder and CEO of Tesla Motors, a leading electric car company.

Consider This:

As a co-founder of PayPal, Musk has tremendous resources at his disposal to finance these projects. However, while his money makes them possible, it doesn’t make them successful. That comes from the attitude behind the quote above. I’d be willing to bet he had that attitude before he made his first dollar in life. Failure will do one of two things to you – toughen your resolve to try again with more intelligence or break you. Choosing the former is a “not-so-secret” secret of success, but that doesn’t make it any easier when you’re struggling. You’ve got to make a conscious choice to not let the failure stop you. There’s a definite magic in being “hell-bent” on making something work.

Try this:

1. Pick some place in your life where you’re not happy with the level of progress you’re making.
2. Answer this question at least 5 times – “If I were “hell-bent” on making this work what would I do differently than I’m doing now?”
3. Then finish this sentence at least 5 times – “If in 6 months I still haven’t made progress, the reasons I’ll give are…”
4. Get to work doing what you wrote in #2 and ensuring what your wrote in #3 doesn’t happen.
5. Repeat as necessary.

Doug Sundheim is a leadership consultant, author, and speaker. His book on taking smart risks is scheduled for Spring 2012 publication.

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