Today’s post is part of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, a blog hop where insecure writers like myself can share our worries and offer advice and encouragement. Click here to find out more about IWSG and to see a list of participating blogs.
This is going to be another of those IWSG posts where I talk about space exploration, but really I’m talking about writing. Just bare with me. I think you’ll see why this is relevant, especially right now in the beginning of November.
If you’re a space enthusiast like me, you’ve had your heart broken many times over the years about Mars. NASA has made big promises about a Mars mission, but everything keeps getting postponed, and it sometimes seems unlikely NASA will ever follow through. A few years ago, a private group called Mars One made some really big promises, but it sounds like they really, really won’t be able to follow through.
And then there’s Elon Musk and his company, SpaceX. Musk has made a lot of promises about SpaceX, the Red Dragon spacecraft, and a Mars colony populated by hundreds of thousands of people. All of this is supposed to start happening in the next decade, maybe sooner. Or so Musk keeps telling us.
Musk does this with all of his grand endeavors, like Tesla, Open AI, and Solar City. Big promises are made. Ambitious deadlines are set. And then those deadlines are missed, and those promises are broken. It would seem that Musk is nothing more than a pipedreamer. A very wealthy pipedreamer, but still… just a pipedreamer.
Except while Musk’s publically stated goals rarely if ever seem to come to fruition, his companies still make tremendous progress; so much so that they continue to be attract investors even as they appear to be failing spectacularly at everything they set out to do.
Apparently Elon Musk believes that it’s better to set your goals a little too high and just barely miss than to set your goals low so you can achieve them easily. One way pushes you to try harder, and even if you don’t succeed at the goal you set for yourself you still make progress—more progress than you would have made otherwise, perhaps more progress than you honestly thought was possible. The other way—the low, easy goals way—gives you permission to become stagnant and allows you to call that success.
I’m not much of a businessman. I don’t know if this is a good way to run a company, though it does seem to be working for Musk. But as I chase my own ambitious writing goals this month, and as some of you pursue the ambitious goals set by NaNoWriMo, maybe it’s worth keeping the Elon Musk philosophy of goal setting in mind.