Advice for Young People, from Elon3 min read

“Try to be useful. Do things that are useful to your fellow human beings.” In this podcast episode with Lex Fridman, Elon Musk responds to Lex’s question about what advice he’d give to young people in high school and college.

A generation feeling lost

People in high school and college are struggling now more than ever to determine career paths, whether they should attend college, and what their place in the world is. I’ve personally seen myself and friends lack clear direction in the past. Without that clear direction or mission, it’s nearly impossible to know what we are working towards daily and be excited and motivated to keep going.

More from Elon

Elon goes on to say we should all strive to have a positive net contribution to society.

Well, being useful can be defined by every person very differently.

“I encourage people to try to ingest as much information as you can. Develop a good general knowledge so you have a rough lay of the land… Try to learn a little about a lot of things.”

This short clip puts the question in my head, “What does a useful life look like?” Elon says, “If you live a useful life, that is a life worth having lived.” This broad quote could be applied in so many areas of interest. Discovering an area of interest that we are also good at is the first step in determining how every individual can define what makes a useful life.

The Sweet Spot

The sweet spot: a combination of things you are inherently good at and you like doing.

By following Elon’s suggestions in this video, we can begin to discover what we are really interested in. Our curiosity about the world will help guide us toward the area with the most opportunity for us to be useful.

When we have something worth living for, we have a direction that gets us excited about waking up each and every day.

Be useful everyday

In my case, living a useful life in the last week looked like:

  1. Cooking a steak dinner with my brothers to celebrate my dad’s birthday.
  2. Proof-reading a fellow Customer Success Manager’s resume to aid in her challenging job search.
  3. Guiding a fellow musician on how to book more shows.

None of these actions are ground-breaking. Success takes consistent action over time. Adopting a constant mindset of being useful can lead to a massive impact over the span of your entire life.

Next Steps

I have already been trying different things in life that I find interesting. Those include: Animal-based diet, surfing, live music performance, customer success, cooking, self-defense shooting, the list goes on.

I will let my curiosity guide me. Any video, article, or book I find interesting, I will continue to consume to understand what it is I find most interesting.

Note to self: Don’t over-consume content. Try to have the majority of your day 80% be in creation mode and the remaining 20% be in consumption mode.

Then, I’ll try things. I’ll try a lot of things. When discovering problems people have, I’ll seek to be useful to them.

I’ll work to be a little more useful every day as I continue to discover what I’m good at and what I also enjoy doing.

Once I find something I enjoy doing that I’m good at, I’ll put blinders on and hyper-focus on becoming successful.

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