We need to redefine our idea of a role model.
Growing up, I idolized Luke Skywalker. And Han Solo. And Aragorn. And Indiana Jones. As I grew older, I noticed my peers transferring their adoration to athletes, which I was told is normal. But I always thought it was weird because no matter how well Peyton Manning plays Football, he’s not a Jedi. He’s just a guy who’s good at playing Football. “That’s fine,” I thought, “they can love Manning. I’m going to stick with the guys who beat the Sith Empire.” So maybe my idea of a great person is skewed by the fact that my idols were fictional.
But is that such a bad standard? Probably, yes. It’s not fair to hold actual human beings to the standards of archetypal paragons of virtue. They will never measure up, because Skywalker holds the advantage of not actually having to be a real person.
However, this doesn’t mean that your role model shouldn’t be a good person.
Peyton Manning seems to be a pretty good person, but I already said I don’t really identify with athletes. Like anything, you have to focus on what’s important to you. For me, a role model is someone who uses their intellect and resources to try to make the world a better place. Elon Musk is quickly proving to be one such person.
Musk is the CEO and Chief Product Architect of Tesla Motors, the automotive company that recently released the Tesla Model S, a fully-electric luxury sedan. There’s an excellent and amusing review done by The Oatmeal, so clearly I can’t help but love it. It’s like a law or something.
Elon Musk was also the co-founder of Paypal, and got a cool $165 million when it was sold in 2002. He then took that money and sunk into a new company, SpaceX, whose goals are as follows: 1. Reduce the cost of space transportation. 2. Colonize Freaking Mars. Talk about a lofty goal, pun intended. Also there is no “3. Profit,” no cash cow to this operation, and they’re succeeding anyway. NASA gave them a contract in 2006 to resupply the International Space Station, and in 2014 they succeeded.
What I am getting at is that, between Tesla Motors and SpaceX, the companies Elon Musk gets invests in are not only successful, but prove there is a better way to work. They blatantly disprove people’s objections concerning expense and practicality. They push us forward as a species.
Want more proof? Tesla Motors just released all their patents for their electric automobiles, according to Elon Musk (again, CEO) because, “If we can do things that don’t hurt us and help the U.S. industry, we should do that.”
Honestly, I don’t know if Elon Musk is a good person. I don’t know that much about him (though I do know he has and still is donating his own money to save Nicola Tesla’s laboratory and turn it into a Nicola Tesla museum, which is really awesome.)
What I do know is that Musk is taking on all comers, because he can do it better. He’s proven it. And he’s going to drag you kicking and screaming into a better tomorrow.