Revealing Henry Ford's Logic On Fear, Failure and Opportunity

Revealing Henry Ford’s Logic On Fear, Failure and Opportunity

In 1922, Henry Ford released My Life And Work. In the introduction of the book, he discusses four principles of service that his institution provides. Ford explains how these principles were created, developed and applied in the next 19 chapters of the book.

The Principles of Henry Ford’s Service Performing Institution

  1. “An absence of fear of the future and of veneration for the past.”
  2. “A disregard of competition.”
  3. “The putting of service before profit.”
  4. “Manufacturing is not buying low and selling high.”

The one principle that gets the most attention is the first. Ford goes on to talk about fear of the future, and failure will limit your activities. Then the next sentence has been quoted nearly infinitely. So many times that there are variations of this quote. Here it is with its original structure from 1922 out of My Life And Work.

“Failure is only the opportunity more intelligently to begin again.” – Henry Ford

Immediately following, Henry says that there is not shame in noble failure. There is the humiliation of disappointment. That what is behind us is useful and is a way and means for making progress. In summary, he says to eliminate the fear of the future and respect the past.

I started to wonder what Henry meant by fear because he stated, “…who fears failure, limits his activities.” He also used the word in three of the fives sentences used to explain this principle. Throughout the book, he used ‘fear’ 17 times. This did not include other words such as fears, fearing, etc. Fear is a pretty strong word and when repeated multiple times I believe it had more of an impact than at first glance.

You Do Not Need To Fail More

Fear is a pretty strong word and when repeated multiple times I believe it had more of an impact than at first glance. After all I have heard so many people say that you should fail more often in order to succeed, but I think this quote is taken out of context. Henry Ford was not saying to fail more to succeed, he was saying something else.

Public Opinion Creates Fear

The first encounter Henry says that there is a “great fear of being thought a fool.” Public opinion hinders us from nonsense and makes us better morally or as society wishes. He did say that you can be a fool for righteousness sake. You either live to see your vision proven or the work last long enough to show it is value.

Money Is The Source Of Fear

Henry believed money is a source of our fear, and that can bring failure. It prevents us from doing the things we know. This alters our decisions because of competition. The loss of income from not doing business is greater than the loss of revenue from a direct loss. Fear consumes idleness and initiative will suck the energy and life out of the project.

Fear Of Losing Profits Prevents The Financial Industry From An Opportunity To Grow

A fear of credit reduction was slipping away due to some tricky financiers. Ford believes people are conservative and sound with their money. He also thought money was essential and the transportation system to exchange goods from one person to another.

Henry ask the question, “Why should finance fear?’ This is a direct question towards financiers who are protecting their value with the current system and blocking the efforts for the perfect system to protect personal profits. Even if the system would be improved upon and something did not go well, business would still go on. Business should control money not money control business. Banking should be a service, not a risk. Ford even suggested that profits from increased banking profits should go to the communities the bank serves.

Remove The Fear And You Remove The Shackles On Opportunity

The economy is another fear among people. The economy is the conditions and parameters in which an economy functions. The restraint on what Ford calls thrift or extravagance is a lesser evil. Poverty cannot be ended with personal efforts but only with better production. We fail to use the resources we have, and leadership thinks more of money than it does od the services it can provide.

Again with more production we could remove the need for charity, but the lack of knowledge keeps fear hanging around. If we kick out fear, we can have self-reliance. Fear is the part of the human being that keeps him performing earthly tasks. Fear dominates the soul because people lack vision. We are allowing ourselves to be beaten by natural difficulties when trying to get from A to Z. A we fail, B we stumble and C we declare we are beaten.

Let Fools Rush In For A Better Understanding

In another place, Henry discusses how his institution was told they could not cast gray iron by a particular method, and there was already a history of failures. He had also tried methods at other plants which were well documented and discouraged many. The best results were when they would let fools rush in where others would not.

Only Production Will Eliminate Poverty

He did not fear overproduction in his business, only the postponement of overproduction. He would rather everyone have all that he or she needed. The increase in demand for cars and multiple cars per household was increasing, and they were no indications that demand was slowing down as the industry began to expand.

People Fear What They Do Not Understand

Hatred is where Ford discussed fear once again in response to creating fear for personal motives. Henry stated that hatred against other people, not American or Christian was due to false ideas and drains the morality of the nation. The more exposure these ideas got, the more people begin to identify with the source and influence around them. Time was the cure, and we are better friends to the Jews’ than those who praise them and then criticize them behind their backs.

To eliminate fear, you must bring in security and supply. We are superior on earth. No matter what happens to us, we are still who we are. Changes bring about new opportunities. Our wealth lies within us, and it is the only security we have.

“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” – Matthew 6:24 (ESV)

 

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  • Kristi

    Fear is a four letter word that we should not allow into our heart. It can be caused by many things but I had not thought of it from the angle of money. I see and agree with those points. I like how Ford wanted people to have what they needed.

  • Very interesting… I love learning from history and I’m so glad you shared this with #TheCozyReadingSpot

  • Mardene Carr

    So, so grateful that fear rarely holds me back from taking on any great project.

  • At times fear has held me back from doing things I should have done, but at the same time, there can be wisdom in being prudent.

  • Megan Darda

    I love the fourth quote that you posted. “Manufacturing is not buying low and selling high.”

  • Removing the fear makes all the difference. I am so thankful that God did NOT give us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and sound mind

  • I love Henry’s line about there being no shame in noble failure. An interesting take on letting fools rush in too. I’m not sure that I’m fully understanding this, but it sounds like to a degree, Ford is advocating for quick action, and for quickly learning from mistakes, verses over-planning and dragging things out. Yes?