I began writing this just days before the passing of William Clay Ford, grandson of Henry Ford. While I was researching details of Henry Ford’s life, news of the death of his last remaining grandson filled the internet. It really makes me think of what an impact Henry Ford had on the world.
Only a month into this Overcoming Adversity blog project and I’ve already had my first failure. I gave myself a deadline to have a new post each week, and I missed it. Even a little setback like this can make the doubt creep up. I think to myself that maybe this project is more than I can handle long term. I’m always busy and these posts take me a long, long time to write, maybe I should just give up. Luckily, I did not forget the 10 Magic Words, and in fact, this little failure is what inspired this week’s post.
Henry Ford is a name that is synonymous with the automotive industry, and many people mistakenly believe that Ford Motor Company was the first car manufacturer, but it wasn’t even close. In fact, it wasn’t even Henry Ford’s first car company. Ford Motor Company began in 1903, but in 1899 Henry Ford opened the Detroit Automotive Company, which failed about a year and a half after it opened, then the Henry Ford Company, which he walked away from after only three months.
Ford’s determination and his ability to not give up in the face of failure is what made him so successful. One of his greatest quotes, ” Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” is important to remember in the face of your own failures. Sometimes the experience and knowledge you gain in failing at something can become a great asset for the future, or give you newfound inspiration for your current project. It’s only when you give up that your past efforts become worthless.
One of the other great lessons we can learn from Ford is that he always tried to surround himself with smart people. This is something I’ve been preaching for a long time. I know that there are certain things that I do well, but there are other important and necessary skills that I simply don’t have. That’s okay, I focus on my strengths and find others who are strong in the places I am not. I like to say that I’ll always be successful if I am the least intelligent person in the room, because I know I have surrounded myself with smart people. Ford worked closely with Thomas Edison, Wilbur and Orville Wright, Charles Lindberg, James Couzens, and many other experts in engineering and business, and he gives many of them, especially Edison, credit for encouraging and inspiring him.
My plan is to always close with the 10 magic words to overcoming adversity, but this week, I’d like to also add Ford’s version. “If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.” This is something we should all believe and remember to never give up, never give up, never ever give up!