Reality Distortion Field

How Elon Musk and Steve Jobs find success

May 4, 2020

I've been doing a lot of reading lately and something that has interested me recently has been reading the biographies of people who inspire me. The first person on this list was Elon Musk and now I'm about half way through the life of Steve Jobs.

One interesting similarity is that both people are arguably bat shit crazy. Reading about both of these men back to back is a good way for me to find some underlying patterns in both of their personalities as a way to dissect it to possibly find their secret sauce for success. 

What I've gathered is that both men are so determined with their vision of what they want that they're willing to stop at nothing to get it. Each person, cold in their demeanor have been known to fire and mistreat employees, often referring to their highly advanced work as "shit" both as an attempt to push them to do better, but also not allowing anything but perfection from them.

One thing that I'm really struck by from both stories is their unbreakable vision. In Steve's book, they refer to this influence he has on his team called the "Reality Distortion Field" - to which is explained as this ability to accomplish things that are deemed impossible. 

In the book, often his engineers will claim that a job isn't possible either because of tight time frames or the mere fact that it's never been done before. Then due to their unwillingness to accept NO as an answer, suddenly magical things happen and the impossible becomes the possible.

I've noticed this similarity in both books, and even more note-ably, anytime an engineer has said a job is impossible, Musk has been known to fire that employee and take on the project himself - usually proving that it was in fact possible in the first place.

For Steve Jobs, he would sometimes tell his engineers to duplicate software advancements that competing companies had achieved, only to later find out that Steve lied and those companies weren't able to achieve those things, but by thinking they had, these engineers found a way to do it.

I find these similarities in personality incredibly fascinating, but it's not the first time I've seen them applied.

In the events of world records, often times there will be standards that are deemed impossible. Contendents will work tirelessly to beat these standards only coming close to doing so. Then all of a sudden someone will make the impossible happen and reach an impossible standard. As a result, suddenly all of these other competitors will be able to achieve the same task, usually shortly after.

The power lies with knowing something CAN be done versus assuming it's impossible.

In both stories, Steve Jobs and Elon Musk have this crazy ability to see a vision that doesn't currently exist. For Steve Jobs it was a vision for a computer that could sit on your lap and be as small as a notebook and for Musk it's a vision to be a multi-planetary species.

Both men take this vision so seriously that it becomes real to them. Saying something is impossible when they've already envisioned it will only frustrate and infuriate them. They believe so deeply in their core that it's possible that they won't stop until they've achieved their goal.

So how can you retrain your mind to assume that nothing is impossible?

I'm not sure exactly, but I think a good start is just to try it.

Start pushing the boundaries of things you think are impossible, even on a small scale. It could be as small as animating a video, or running a mile. The more confidence you build around the idea that nothing is impossible, the more likely we will be toward achieving great feats such as flying to Mars - or in my case achieving financial freedom. 

(wal•do) — Person
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