The Myth And Danger of Elon Musk?

“At Lloyds, where I’m CEO, we’ve seen how a change in attitudes has helped staff – and our business – to thrive.


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“At Lloyds, where I’m CEO, we’ve seen how a change in attitudes has helped staff – and our business – to thrive.

I have made mental health a big focus for my company as a result of my personal experience. It is clear to me that the most important change needed is one of mindset. We must move to a way of thinking that recognises that we all have mental health just as we all have physical health. As with our physical health, all of us can experience periods of mental ill health when immediate treatment is needed, or we run the risk of developing long-term conditions that will need continuing support.”

– Antonio Horta-Osorio, CEO of Lloyds Bank

I have to admit I find Elon Musk fascinating.

I admire his ‘think big’ approach to projects and really enjoy his thinking around distilling projects into a ‘First Principles’ approach.

But I’ve some to question him.

Initially because of a conversation after a meeting I had with someone who had first-hand experience of working directly with him, at a close level. What I heard wasn’t what you would describe as ‘authentic, healthy leadership.’

Without doubt there is a ‘Cult Of Elon’ because of his maverick style and in that he has built the brands of Tesla and Space X – being CEO to two disruptive start-ups at the same time is no mean feat!

Throw in his experiments with drilling tunnels under LA, creating and selling 20,000 units of a flame-thrower that isn’t and championing new ideas and innovation – and you have a guy who doesn’t seem to have much time to spare!

But cracks are emerging and perhaps all that glistens is not gold.

His recent comments about a diver who helped rescue the 12 boys in Thailand were seemingly groundless and inappropriate. His interview with The New York Times almost seemed like a cry for help, as he talked of sleep deprivation and incessant working hours.

And then last week his Head of HR and Finance both resigned. All this while Musk drank whiskey and smoke marijuana on the comedian Joe Rogan’s podcast!

All of this tells me that he’s potentially on the verge of burn-out and not thinking rationally.

What can we take from this?

No matter who you are, you can’t perform at your best if you’re not getting the basics right of looking after yourself.

I meet too many people who are continuously fatigued and expect to enjoy sustainable success. It’s too easy today in The Digital Age to stay connected, ‘on’ and ‘busy’ but at the expense of what?

In 2011, The CEO of Lloyds quoted above took a leave of absence because of ‘extreme fatigue’. The share price tumbled overnight, knocking over $1billion in value off the company.

But he re-emerged 9 months later to take the helm, better. And since then he has turned the fortunes of the company around while also bringing in training for key leaders around Mental and Emotional Fitness. A smart move with a guaranteed return.

It looks unlikely Musk will do the same and the risks to his companies are large.

But we potentially risk our companies, careers, relationships and more by not pro-actively taking care of ourselves – and often that means looking in the mirror.

So in that spirit, what 1 thing can you do this week to help the biggest ‘asset’ in your life? i.e. you.



ps – If you’re looking for ideas on Mental and Emotional Fitness, please check out talk about State Of Mind. Details here.

pps – If you’re interested in learning more insights to help your leadership, career and life, consider joining me at a public talk in Dublin, Ireland on the 3rd October. Details below. An Evening Of Inspiration And Clarity.


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