In 1988, to avoid compulsory military service, 17-year-old Elon Musk left his home country of South Africa to live with relatives in Canada. Soon after, he was accepted to the University of Pennsylvania where he eventually graduated with degrees in business and physics.
Next, Musk pursued a Ph.D. in energy physics at Stanford but dropped out to start his first company, Zip2, in 1995. Zip2 sold in 1999 for $341 million and, using proceeds from the sale, Musk co-founded X.com which soon merged with a startup named PayPal. Since then, Musk has founded some of the world’s most innovative companies, including SpaceX and Tesla, Inc.
It’s hard to overstate Musk’s professional achievements—he’s often compared to the greatest entrepreneurs in history—his name is listed in the same group as pioneers like Thomas Edison, Sam Walton, and Henry Ford. Add to that today’s 24-hour news cycle, and you get headlines focusing on Musk daily.
All this media exposure has created a worldwide fascination with the business mogul, so if you’re like the rest of us, you find yourself fascinated with the billionaire’s journey.
That said, following celebrities can be an entertaining diversion, but it shouldn’t become a source of inspiration for leadership pursuits. Below are just a few reasons to stop following Elon Musk and start focusing on your team.
1. Billions Make a Difference
Musk’s vision propels him and his partners to invest millions of dollars a month toward building high-profile companies. Looking in from the outside, it’s easy to conflate Musk’s remarkable vision with his character and leadership skills, but effective leadership requires a daily commitment to serving others. In reality, business is messy and your challenges probably look different than what a billionaire entrepreneur deals with. Instead, focus on a leadership strategy tailored to fit your team’s strengths with the resources available to you.
2. Character Matters
Character is the most important trait in a leader and should be held in high regard when searching for mentors. If even half of the documented scandals associated with Mr. Musk are accurate, it should cause Christians to examine why they are following a public personality. The old sports quote, “winning covers a multitude of sins,” often applies to those with high-profile images and extreme wealth. Don’t be distracted by the headline spin. Focus instead on developing your personal character by building relationships with time-tested Godly mentors.
3. Twitter Isn’t Real Life
These days, a 280-character tweet from Musk can result in headlines, scandals, and even stock changes. But as we stated in a recent article on MinistryInsights.com, “Twitter knowledge” rarely evolves into practical leadership wisdom. One learns healthy leadership skills through time, experience, and mentors. Even a year’s worth of Musk’s tweets is a far cry from a master class in leadership. The best classroom is right in front of you, in your office, your ministry, or your community.
The public gets a glimpse of Elon Musk the media personality, not his daily leadership temperament, decision-making process, or company culture. Building a leadership persona from these slices of media will not grow you as a leader. Instead, study the servant leaders around you that are changing lives, and trust yourself to apply that knowledge inside your organization—this is the clearest path to success.