Success can sometimes be accidental, but immense success, such as the one achieved by personalities like Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk – never occurs by chance. Their names and success stories have become a matter of common knowledge even to people who don’t have any direct relation to the fields these living legends have conquered.
While they’ve taken different routes to success, they actually have a lot in common. They’re all self-made billionaires and rank among the world’s richest, most influential individuals.
William Henry Gates III, widely known as Bill Gates is the co-founder of Microsoft, the pioneer of microcomputers, a world class software developer and a renowned investor.
Jeffrey Preston Bezos, popularly known as Jeff Bezos is the founder, CEO and president of Amazon.com, an entrepreneur in the fields of internet and aerospace and a global investor.
Elon Reeve Musk, better known as Elon Musk is an engineer, the founder and CEO of SpaceX, a tech entrepreneur and investor.
Is there a secret behind their success that the world doesn’t know? If you were to ask Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos or Elon Musk, they’ll tell you there isn’t – they were simply fueled by ambition, worked harder than most people, and took bold, but calculated risks to get to where they’re at today.
But, while there’s no guarded secret to being highly successful, there is a definite pattern with big time achievers – personality traits all these individuals share. Let’s take a look at all of them.
1.A Strong, Inherent Desire for Learning
Bill Gates wrote his first software program at the age of 13. As a child, he would spend hours in his room just thinking. At Harvard, most of Gates’ time was devoted to using the computers in the school’s labs.
Jeff Bezos started to display a keen interest in science and technology at a very young age. At one instance, Bezos rigged an electric alarm so he could keep his siblings from entering his room. He went on to become a high school valedictorian and a National Merit Scholar and graduated in computer science and electrical engineering.
As a child, Elon Musk was an avid reader. He became interested in computing at the early age of 10 and self-learned computer programming. At the age of 12, he had created and sold the code of a BASIC video game that he called Blastar.
Lesson to Learn: If there is a will there is a way. The desire for learning is the most important thing that can lead you to success. And, if you have it, you can conquer anything that you come across.
Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard to start his own company with no real business experience. His idea was – he could always go back to school if his company wasn’t successful. That displays a tremendous amount of self-belief, a trait shared by Jeff Bezos who famously borrowed $300,000 from his parents to start Amazon despite investors’ warnings that his idea had a seventy percent chance of failure.
Elon Musk invested in Tesla when it was a fairly small electric car company and few investors wanted nothing to do with it. He always believed in thinking big and dreaming even bigger. He later stated that his plan was to build a sports car, use the money made from that venture into creating an affordable car and, in turn, use that money to create a car that was even more affordable. It’s a clear indicator of the amount of faith he held in his vision and abilities.
Lesson to Learn: Believe you can and you are half way there. To do something in your life, you have to take risks. The only condition is your risks should be calculated.
3.An Eye for Opportunity
Another trait shared by Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk is that they all have a keen eye for opportunity– they’ve been great at identifying chances and turning them into successful ventures.
Bill Gates was still a Harvard student when MITS Altair 8800 was released. He and his friend Paul Allen immediately realized that personal computers would soon become a household article. Since every computer needed software to operate, they decided to start a software company of their own.
Three years after founding Amazon as an online bookstore, Jeff Bezos took his company public. It was a resounding success – Amazon successfully overtook large scale retailers such as Barnes & Noble and Borders. For most people, that success would have defined the scope of Amazon.
For Bezos, that was merely the start. He saw the opportunity of having a world-renowned platform to create a global marketplace for almost everything, expanding first into video and music, then later into a wide range of consumer goods.
Tesla was a new and little-known electric car company when co-founder Martin Eberhard sought investment from Elon Musk. At a time when there was little public interest in the concept of electric cars and little belief in their practical applications, Elon Musk saw the opportunity and decided to invest, helping generate approximately $7.5 million. He also became the company’s CEO and product architect – positions he holds to date.
Lesson to Learn: Small opportunities are often the beginning of great achievements. You always have to keep looking for them to create something wonderful.
Gates, Bezos and Musk all tasted success with their early ventures and could have spent the rest of their lives doing the same thing or living off their bank accounts. None of them did that.
Starting out, Bill Gates’ ambition was to create a future where every home and office desk had a computer on it. A wild goal set at a time when computers were big, bulky luxuries few could afford.
In his graduation speech, Jeff Bezos declared that his goal was for people of the earth to colonize space. Note that he made the statement back in 1986 – wild ambition at a time when space travel was largely the stuff of science fiction. Even with the global success of Amazon, Bezos never forgot his ambition. In September 2000, he founded Blue Origin, a company dedicated to human spaceflight and development of living facilities outside of earth.
Elon Musk’s ambition didn’t dim with the success of his initial plan of creating highly affordable electric cars. His ambition only grew further. In 2016, Musk revealed he wanted to expand the range of electric vehicles to all segments, including pickup trucks and small SUVS and develop a trustworthy system for self-driving.
Lesson to Learn: You should always have a tendency of setting high goals, achieving them and then setting newer. The trio always believed in setting the goals higher for themselves.
5.A Desire to Give Back
Gates, Bezos and Musk are names that are as closely associated with money and fame as they are with philanthropy. All three of them dreamt of helping the human civilization from a very early age and when they reached the position that they could give back to the society, they’ve utilized that position pretty effectively.
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is the world’s wealthiest charitable organization that focuses on global issues that aren’t getting the required attention from world governments and NGOs.
The organization’s efforts are focused on developing genetically modified rice to tackle vitamin A deficiency that’s rampant in poor countries, providing family planning information and supplies to the women and girls in the world’s poorest corners. Bill Gates is also known for frequently making personal donations to help educational institutions around the globe.
Jeff Bezos was the world’s leading philanthropist in 2018, contributing approximately $2 billion to support the poor and homeless and provide pre schooling services in communities with low income. While Bezos doesn’t frequently top the list of world’s leading donators, he’s definitely committed to giving back to the world in his own way.
Elon Musk’s Musk Foundation has been providing solar power systems to disaster affected areas for years. His contributions have helped tsunami hit cities in Japan and solve the water crisis in the city of Flint (Michigan). His other philanthropic efforts include contributing to tree planting initiatives, helping hurricane watch programs and funding research for developing artificial intelligence to help the humanity.
Lesson to Learn: No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted. There is nothing wrong is giving back something to the world which has given everything to you.
It’s said that successful people think along the same lines. A look at the journeys of Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk reaffirm that statement. The biggest success stories of our generation all exhibit the same personality traits and we too can achieve more success in our individual endeavors by integrating these traits in our lives.
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