In a New York Times interview with David Gelles, James B. Stewart, Jessica Silver-Greenberg, and Kate Kelly, the Times journalists noted that Elon Musk, “choked up multiple times, noting that he nearly missed his brother’s wedding this summer and spent his birthday holed up in Tesla’s offices as the company raced to meet elusive production targets on a crucial new model.”
I’ve followed social media, sites like reddit and twitter, a little more closely when it comes to this particular human. I’m a fanboy. I have followed the sites where Musk has been discussed and I found myself more disappointed than understanding.
Honestly, much of the public commentary reminds me of how people can be real a**hats. Not him mind you, the judgement of him. I’m seeing tweets and comments along the lines of, “woe me, billionaire celeb founder is having a hard time.”
Doing what we do, starting businesses, is among the most stressful life decisions anyone can make. EVERYONE loses it at some point. People are never exceptional and shouldn’t be idealized.
Some of us fall off the grid and just check out (I tend to do this). Some of us lose it at home, quietly, emotionally; if they’re lucky, they have a partner there to help (me too by the way, my wife is an angel). Some of us crack a poorly worded joke, comment, or thought, out of stress more than intention. Some take an ambien to get some sleep, have a drink too many, or worse lose control in the process.
We do work that means that we will fail. Failure is inevitable in entrepreneurship. You spend your money, your time, your reputation, your personal life… in hopes of making the lives of others better.
And we’re constantly judged for the missteps.
Even in making it work, we hear things like, “why is it taking so long??” “why aren’t you/we doing this instead?” Team members leave us, families are strained, and rumors spread in whispers that reach our ears, “maybe they’re full of it and there’s nothing worthwhile there.”
And then one day, you put a battery-powered car in space.
No one is infallible. We’re all, all 400 billion people, in this together for the next few decades. There’s no one else but us and after us, we won’t care what we accomplished nor how much we cried. All that will matter is what those next have and think because of us.
I think the man who helped build PayPal, Tesla, and who is changing the way we get to space, deserves to have some cracks in public. In fact, I applaud that he is cracking, it’s a good reminder that even those we put on pedestals are no better than the rest of us trying to make a difference. Let’s not be too hard on ourselves… no, better: let’s prop each other up rather than tearing down our humanity.[Photo credit: Photographer, Michelle Andonian for OnInnovation. This photograph is made available pursuant to a Creative Commons noncommercial, attribution, no derivatives license.]