Two days ago at the Elon Musk's talk in Hong Kong, I tweeted this out when I realized two things about how he thinks:
1.He doesn't think in the future - he thinks from the end goal first
From the Wait but why article on him:
In college, he thought about what he wanted to do with his life, using as his starting point the question, “What will most affect the future of humanity?” The answer he came up with was a list of five things: “the internet; sustainable energy; space exploration, in particular the permanent extension of life beyond Earth; artificial intelligence; and reprogramming the human genetic code.”
He thinks from first principles. He asks the right questions, proceeds logically through its conclusions, and therefore arrives at the right answers. His questions started from the future, and therefore his answers appear to magically address the future, when in fact the answers were the only logical answers to the questions he posed.
2. His clarity of being and doing starts with discipline
His demeanor, his intellectually honest answers, his attention to detail - these are all symptoms of his unusual clarity. But really what's happening is that he's singularly focused on addressing the key question and end goal, and disciplines and optimizes his whole self and being towards that.
There's a more lengthy article from Wait but Why about him - but that's for another time.