Opinion

The Trait That Made Elon Musk and Steve Jobs Fearless--and How to Cultivate It

By Melissa Schilling

Melissa Schilling

Self-efficacy makes us bolder, more likely to challenge assumptions, more resilient, and more persistent.

When Elon Musk found out that NASA had no intentions of going to Mars, he decided to invest $100 million of his own funds to develop reusable rockets; if NASA was not going to bring humanity to Mars, he would do it himself. Space industry veterans dismissed him by saying that reusable rockets were impossible. They had, after all, been trying to develop them for fifty years.

Musk just shrugged and said, "I think I can do it."

He turned out to be right. Musk has been called a "walking moonshot," but if Musk's achievements inspire your awe, you should spend a little time reading about Nikola Tesla, the man for whom Elon Musk's auto company is named.

As a college student, Tesla blurted out in his physics class that it was unnecessary to use a commutator to harness the electric current of a dynamo. His outraged professor responded, "Mr. Tesla will accomplish great things, but he certainly will never do this. It would be equivalent to converting a steady pulling force like gravity into rotary effort. It is a perpetual motion scheme, an impossible idea."  The professor then spent the rest of the class proving why Tesla had to be wrong.

Read full article as published by Inc
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Melissa Schilling is a Professor of Management and Organizations.