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John Maxwell Team

John Maxwell Team Certified Member

Priscilla Archangel is a John Maxwell Team Certified Coach, Teacher and Speaker.

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    The Catalyst of Conviction

    Convictions are firm beliefs in a position or theory of how things should or do operate. They’re developed as a result of our learning experiences, values, dreams and hopes, and our knowledge of facts. Each of us holds a unique set of convictions, but only some of us hold convictions that are game changing. If acted upon, these convictions may change our environment, and the way we live and operate. Such breakthroughs have shaped our world over centuries, like Thomas Edison’s light bulb; Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity; and George Washington Carver’s inventions from peanuts, soybeans and sweet potatoes; to name just a few.

    Today, convictions and their resulting innovations and inventions occur at a much greater speed, fueled by technology and the wealth and capability of those who hold them. Together they form a catalyst for those convictions to change our environment. Meet two men who demonstrate just that.


    Elon Musk

    Elon Musk has had a great year.  He was named Fortune Magazine’s 2013 Business Person of the Year based on the success of Tesla Motors’ new electric vehicle. Revenue at the company skyrocketed during the first three quarters of 2013, and as of late December the stock has increased by five times it’s January 2013 start price. In spite of several recent battery fires in the Model S vehicle, NTHSA has reaffirmed their five star safety rating for 2014. Musk used his proceeds from selling PayPal to Ebay in 2002, to fund this business along with his two other companies, Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX), and SolarCity.   

    SpaceX’s mission is to design, manufacture and launch advanced rockets and space craft, thereby revolutionizing space travel in a way that enables interplanetary life. They are developing reusable rockets that can make multiple trips between the earth and outer space, drastically reducing the cost of travel. This makes space travel similar to commercial airlines, where one airplane is capable of tens of thousands of trips. Solar City provides clean energy to customers at a lower cost than coal, oil and natural gas.

    Musk has the capability to reconceptualize the way things work.  He doesn’t just push on the boundaries of the possibilities, he reconstructs them. With SpaceX, he didn’t simply pick up where the U.S. space program left off; he reframed the concept of space travel. Chris Anderson, curator of TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) describes Musk in a recent Fortune article as possessing the ability to make decisions that are “technically possible…economically intelligent, and…experientially satisfying.”  This is supported by a deeply held conviction of how the world should be, and the ability to convince others of his perspective. He is heavily involved in detailed decisions at his companies, while at the same time looking broadly at the overall system of how things work.

    Patrick Soon-Shiong

    Patrick Soon-Shiong is a Chinese physician who immigrated to the U.S. 30 years ago from South Africa. His U.S. medical career started when he was recruited to UCLA, where he was a well published researcher, a groundbreaking transplant surgeon, and most importantly, inventor of Abraxane, a cancer fighting drug.  Forbes reported his net worth at around $9 billion, making him #45 on their September 2013 400 Richest Americans list.

    According to the story by David Whitford in Fortune’s December 9, 2013 issue, Soon-Shiong’s business endeavors began in 1998 when he pieced together enough money to purchase a generic drugmaker. He turned the company around and used the profits to fund the development of Abraxane.  A decade later he sold the company and used his profits to purchase a share of the Los Angeles Lakers, and with his wife joined Bill Gates’ and Warren Buffet’s giving pledge as major philanthropists in the medical arena.

    Most importantly though, Soon-Shiong is using his wealth to support his conviction in the power of transformative medicine. He’s used $700 million of his own money (and partnered with others), to buy small companies with the intent of leveraging the latest technologies to help physicians and researchers develop new therapies to diagnose and treat life threatening diseases like cancer.

    This conviction is a life passion and a mission for him. He sees the world in a systems integrated approach, and his vision is reportedly sometimes greater than his capability to express it. This is his plan to change the practice of medicine and thereby change the world.


    Musk and Soon-Shiong each have a rather unique philosophy about how to apply technology to world problems, and to essentially change the way we live. Their capability as demonstrated by past business successes, has built a level of confidence (and cash) that enabled them to further develop and pursue these beliefs, and resulted in a strongly held conviction about what the future should be like. Both have the ability to view a large system along with its component pieces, and use that view to drive change.  They’re persuasive, possess a drive to persevere, and believe in what some might call audacious change, a trait held by other serial disrupters like Steve Jobs. Instead of adjusting to the world’s way of thinking, they’re trying to make the world adjust to their way of thinking.

    So what is your strongly held conviction about your environment; your surroundings; the people, tools and systems you interact with? What do you strongly believe that will benefit others and change the way we work and operate? Scale it to your area of influence and capability, and identify the catalyst to move you forward in this area. It could be a theory on life, a process, a service, or a product…something that excites you. Review all your experiences, because they have served a purpose to bring you to the point you’re at now. As you begin a new year, resolve to take action on your convictions.  Let them be the catalyst to your success. 


    Read the Fortune Magazine story on Elon Musk here.

    Read the Fortune Magazine story on Patrick Soon-Shiong here.

    Photo from iStockphoto

    2013 Copyright Priscilla Archangel 

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