Henry Ford, the ignorant idealist
Today I want to share a story about Henry Ford as cited in the book Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. Here’s an example of a successful person that doesn’t think about failing but instead, about knowing. We can clearly see the different approaches between people who succeed in business and people who aspire to find a good job.
The final conclusion of these lines represents a different paradigm to which most people are accustomed. A paradigm that every entrepreneur should install in their mind.
Many people make the mistake of assuming that, because Henry Ford didn’t go to a school of any sort, he was not an “educated” man. The word “educa” derives from the Latin word educate, which means extracting and acquire within, that is why there is a misconception about education, because in reality an educated man is not necessarily someone who has a lot of general or specialized knowledge in a certain topic, an educated man is one who has cultivated the power on his mind to obtain whatever he wants or needs, without ever hurting the rights of others.
During World War II, a Chicago newspaper published a few editorials in which amongst many other things mentioned, they called Henry Ford an “ignorant pacifist”. Mr. Ford objected to these claims and filed a suit against the said newspaper, when the trial started, the newspaper’s lawyers demanded to clarify some things and Mr. Ford himself was called to the witness stand, this as a way of these lawyers to demonstrate the jury that Mr Ford was indeed ignorant.
The lawyers asked Ford many questions, all aimed to show that clearly, although Mr Ford possessed a considerable amount of expertise in what was called the automobile manufacturing industry, he was basically ignorant.
Henry Ford was asked questions like who Benedict Arnold was and how many British soldiers were sent to the American colonies to suppress the rebellion of 1776.
Mr. Ford in response to this last question replied that he did not know the exact number of soldiers the British sent, but he had heard that the number of soldiers sent was considerably greater than the number of those who returned alive.
In the end, Mr. Ford was finally getting tired of such questions and seeing the situation as very offensive and patience leaking he decided to lean forward, point at the lawyer who asked him this question and say:
“If I really wanted to answer to the stupid questions you just asked me or to any of the other questions you have asked, allow me to first remind you that inside my desk there is a long line of buttons I can press anytime and by pressing the right one I can call for the help of men who would be able to answer any of the questions related to the business to which I’ve dedicated almost my entire efforts and energy to, now tell me, why do I need to fill my head with general knowledge like the one you are asking me here for in order to answer these questions if I have men around me that can give me any kind of knowledge I ask from them.”
Undoubtedly, this was a very logical response and left the lawyer very confused, plus, all the people inside the court room realized that an answer of that kind, was not the answer of an ignorant person, it was the answer of an educated person, not “book educated”, but educated as for being able to acquire the needed knowledge in the precise needed moment and being able to organize this knowledge in very definite action plans
Through the assistance of his work teams, Henry Ford could obtain all the knowledge he needed to turn into one of the wealthiest men in the United States and the world, he didn’t need to have as much data in his head as people thought he did in order to be a very educated man.
You can obtain all the knowledge you need from different sources, not necessarily a university or school of some sort, to accumulate big fortunes, the person interested in accumulating them, needs to have access to specialized knowledge, intelligently directed and organized but not necessarily possessed by the person accumulating said fortune, the knowledge can come from the people he or she decides to surround himself with.
So now think, are you making a big effort to acquire very heavy pieces of knowledge in order to achieve your goals? Do you think you can do the job on your own because the rest of the people don’t know as much as you? Think twice before jumping to these conclusions, maybe you don’t need to work so hard on filling your brain but work harder on filling your surroundings correctly.