Lesson #1: Stick With It

“When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it,” said Ford.

It comes along with the territory of being a creative entrepreneur – some people are going to think you are plain crazy. Ford was no stranger to criticism, dismissed by his family and colleagues alike for his vision of a gas-powered automobile for the masses. It took strength and conviction for Ford to continue on his mission, but he remained determined to make his vision come true.

When Ford first announced to his colleagues and stockholders his desire to mass-produce an affordable, quality car, he was not taken seriously. Ford recalled the general comment at the time as being, “If Ford does that he will be out of business in six months,” and the question that started to be asked was, “How soon will Ford blow up?” But, Ford didn’t give up. Trial by trial, Ford continued working towards realizing his vision, eventually producing the Model T, whose sales of 15 millions would be a record for 45 years.

“Failure is only the opportunity more intelligently to being again,” said Ford. “One who fears the future, who fears failure, limits his activities.” Even before Ford founded his own motor company, his numerous experiments often led him down the path of failure. Working in a small wooden shack next to his farmhouse, Ford spent years attempting to perfect his automobile design. In one such case, Ford built a steam car that did successfully propel itself, but its kerosene-heated boiler proved too dangerous for it to be driven. “But, I did not give up the idea of a horseless carriage,” he said, which at first was considered “merely a freak notion and many wise people explained with particularity why it could never be more than a toy.”

When he moved onto gas-engine experiments, he recalled that they were “no more popular with the president of the company than my first mechanical leanings were with my father…I can still hear him say, “Electricity, yes, that’s the coming thing. But gas – no.” Again, Ford didn’t give up. Instead, he decided to focus on racecars, in order to promote his cars and drum up support for his vision wherever he could.

“Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal,” said Ford. “The best we can do is size up the chances, calculate the risks involved, estimate our ability to deal with them, and then make our plans with confidence.” Ford experienced resistance along every step of the way but refused to give in to his critics. Instead, he chose to remain determined and focused on his goals.

Ford believed that every problem, no matter how large, had a solution that could be found if only a little persistence, optimism and enthusiasm could be applied. “Enthusiasm is the yeast that makes your hopes shine to the stars. Enthusiasm is the sparkle in your eyes, the swing in your gait. The grip of your hand, the irresistible surge of will and energy to execute your ideas,” said Ford. “You can do anything if you have enthusiasm.”

The most important factor that Ford attributed to his success was his ability to stay positive and remain confident in his abilities even in the face of his critics. “There is no man living that can not do more than he thinks he can,” he said. “Whether you think that you can, or that you can't, you are usually right.”

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