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                  “I think it is possible for ordinary people to choose to be extraordinary"

                                 -Elon Musk

Don’t be Content the Ordinary

What is it that separates you from entrepreneurial billionaire Elon Musk? The answer isn’t actually as complicated as you might think. The truth is that Musk started out much like you, me and the other 7 billion people on this earth. He grew up in South Africa and enjoyed many of the western games, television shows and movies that countless Americans also grew up on. However, one key differentiator between Musk and the other 7 billion people on earth is that he never stopped questioning what is possible.

At a certain age, most children go through the dreaded “why phase,” which is usually brought on shortly after kids develop the ability to say a few words or rudimentary sentences. During this stage of developmental growth, children are just starting to understand the world around them and are enthralled by all that surrounds them. At some point in our lives however, the majority of people are pressured out of this phase by the cultural norms set by society.

Dreamers are reigned in and restraining boundaries are set in place to mold individuals into productive members of society. But through this process, a spark is lost. Many of those thirsty for knowledge are forced into obedience; as result many of those destine for the extraordinary and relegated to a life of conformity.

How is it that some are able to break free? Risk in life and in your career can be daunting. No one wants to fail in something they work really hard on, especially if they have a family to support and people to take care of. So to mitigate risk, you can get a safe 9-5 job working to make someone else’s dreams possible.

The allure of a security however is short lived; we have one life to be extraordinary so why reduce this opportunity to impact the world positively to a fleeting thought for fear of failure. I am not suggesting putting your families entire fortune on red at the roulette table, but somewhere between that and hiding your savings under your mattress for the fear that banks will run out of money, there is a happy medium.

The tough thing about risk is that it’s subjective and difficult to quantify. Whether you are taking more risk than someone in a comparable situation as yourself comes down to a more qualitative scale. This being said, there are a few baby steps you can take to boost yourself towards obtaining success and becoming extraordinary. 

First, never stop asking why! The word ‘why’ embodies curiosity.  Some are reluctant to ask ‘why’ or ‘how’ for fear of humiliation or embarrassment, but in reality, the more questions you ask, the more knowledgeable you will become and remember, knowledge is power.  Without curiosity, cultivating innovation becomes incredibly difficult because without aspiring for more, progress sits idle.

Next, pursue risk and be open to opportunities. Risk can feel daunting, but it is the barrier to entry to where you want to be. If everything was easily obtainable, everyone else would have already done it. Risk is not only felt by people in their everyday lives, but also by Entrepreneurs and many Small or Midsize Businesses (SMB). For these groups and SMB’s especially, risk is apparent in the everyday survival of trying to stay ahead of the competition. One way SMB’s have managed to compensate for their size in the market, is through the adoption of innovative technologies that improve flexibility, scalability and streamline business. Staying at the cutting edge of innovation is one thing Musk does best. In fact, he is often the catalyst of innovation and continues to take risk in every aspect of business to beat out the already well established firms in the industry. Though the risk is great, the reward could be greater.  

Lastly, never stop questioning what’s possible. Musk never started out any of his ideas with “what will make me the most amount of money,” instead, he posed the question to himself of “what are the problems that are likely to affect humanity in the future?” With this question posed, he was able to combat fossil fuels with the beginnings of his electric car company, impact the renewable energy industry by developing a new way for consumers to buy solar power, and develop reusable space craft to privatize the space industry by promoting competition and efficiency over government funding.

The shift in the American culture as well as business world is supporting SMB’s to innovate, reimagine and redefine what businesses should look like. Startup websites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo have capitialized on this sensation by bringing many crowd funding projects and startups to life. Exponential growth in technology is beneficial to the fast moving agile businesses of today and gives them the competitive edge over the more sluggish large corporation. Cloud technology is one area that has provided SMB’s as well as larger corporations, the flexibility necessary to adapt and remain competitive.   

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