For Tesla devotees and Elon Musk fans, reading the news has been a tough blow lately. This summer seems to have been a long line of defeats, controversies, and blunders for one of the most talked about CEOs on the planet.
However, his recent outbursts on Twitter and in the press have made an excellent case study for what not to do when you are really stressed and pushed to capacity.
Musk has stuck his foot in his mouth on several occasions recently.
If you’ve been living in a cave for the past three months, here’s what you’ve missed from the outspoken CEO of Tesla Motors.
Starting back in May, Musk began calling out his perception of hypocrisy within major media outlets. He also wanted to penalize journalists for what he believed were poor reports of his companies.
This didn’t go over very well with the Twittersphere and also his customers. Unfortunately, he didn’t take the hint.
Here is what you can learn from Musk’s latest mistakes.
You don’t have to respond to everything — choose your battles
During the Thailand cave rescue operation, Musk reportedly provided a piece of technology that could help the rescue team complete their mission faster.
However, when one of the rescuers called Musk’s actions out as being nothing more than a publicity stunt, Musk shot back.
Musk called the man a pedophile and brashly defended his company’s good intentions in helping the rescue mission.
As someone who intended to bring a positive outcome to a disastrous situation, you can almost empathize with Musk’s outrage, but you can’t justify his making harsh allegations against a minor threat.
Many people are watching your reactions. Respond carefully.
Wait 24 hours before sending emotional emails or tweets
However, the saga continued when Musk announced that he would take the company private, after getting investor money, only to admit later that he had misread a situation and was misinformed about the actual monetary backing.
The Twittersphere responded by accusing Musk of trying to get back at short sellers, and even the SEC got involved.
No ruling has come yet for Musk. The SEC may have a difficult time fashioning its rules to the likes of a deceptive tweet. But in any event, the slap on the wrist was enough to cause Tesla some unwanted negative press.
So what else can we learn from the latest series of missteps from the 47-year-old billionaire?
If you’re a CEO or even a startup founder, don’t fight every battle yourself
There’s a reason Tesla Motors hasn’t been able to find a second-in-command for several years–Musk is glued to the reins.
As a CEO, you have to separate your business from your emotions, and if you can’t you need to take a sincere step back.
Get sleep, stay sane, and don’t sweat the small stuff
His approach has robbed him of sleep, health, and a much-needed vacation. However, his relentless efforts have also made him very successful and profitable, and a leading innovator.
The fact that Musk isn’t capable of releasing his grip on control has deteriorated his sound thinking, a state of mind not all that uncommon among company leaders.
When your brain is taxed with making so many major decisions, it’s understandable that stress will steal some of your logical thinking.
It’s important for executives to recognize when they can delegate something to someone else. Musk could outsource his Twitter activity and approve the tweets with a sound mind. He could also delete his accounts and focus on his companies instead.
He might also do well to take a much-needed break.
But most important, he could let his results do the talking, instead of trying to explain his thoughts and feelings to people with deaf ears.
In my career, I’ve found that most people don’t like explanations anyway. They are usually too busy thinking what they want, and explaining a situation ends up coming across as defensive.
Someone as powerful as Musk should be playing offense, not quibbling with journalists on Twitter.