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7 Action-Inducing Life Lessons from Henry Ford

7 Action-Inducing Life Lessons from Henry Ford

We all know Henry Ford best for founding the world-renowned Ford Motor Company and transforming the way that products are built in the United States. While it’s certainly easy to idolize someone who had so much business success, Henry Ford actually experienced many of the highs and lows that business owners still face today. However, his experience and his triumphs make for some incredible life lessons.

From enduring the Great Depression to dealing with a high turnover rate at his factory, Henry Ford had to experience several failures that all added up to his incredible, historic successes. The best part is that if you need help overcoming an obstacle today, many of his life lessons are still applicable to the 21st century.

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Life Lessons from Henry Ford

1. Seek Advice from Others

One of the biggest mistakes that Henry Ford made was not listening to some of his most trusted advisers. Many people, his son included, warned him about the rising popularity of other cars, yet Henry Ford did not adapt well to these changes. By the end of his life, although he was a wealthy man, Ford Motor Company was third and not first in the automobile industry. His company certainly did not lose any of the prestige it had in its earlier days, but had Mr. Ford kept up with innovations, he could have been more of a leader in the industry.

2. Invest in What Works

What makes Henry Ford so successful is that he took his business idea and made it bigger. Had he stayed with his original small factory, he wouldn’t be the business icon that we know today. Every time he wanted to improve his company, he invested in a much larger factory to produce more products. He even diversified and started offering more services than just automobiles. Even though all of these changes were cost intensive, Henry Ford was willing to take the risk and invest in what worked.

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3. Create For Everyone

Many successful business people have made their fortune catering to the rich, but Henry Ford created products that appealed to everyone. He even raised the salary of his factory workers to the point where they could actually afford the cars they were making. This led to reducing the turnover rate that plagued the Ford Motor Company in the early years.

4. “Don’t find fault; find a remedy.”

The above is one of my favorite Henry Ford quotes, and it’s one of his best life lessons. It’s so easy to place blame on other people or to point the finger at someone else for your mistakes. However, one of the most integral skills you can learn in life is taking responsibility for your actions. Even better, take it one step further and find a solution to the problem. This will guarantee you much success in life.

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5. Always Produce High Quality Work

Henry Ford once said, “Quality means doing it right when no one is looking,” and that is absolutely true. We should all be at our best at all times, not only when our boss is watching or our parents are watching. Creating good habits and developing into good people is much more important than getting ahead through unethical methods.

6. Have Passion For What You Do

If you don’t have enthusiasm for your work, then it’s time to find a new job! While you won’t have a perfect work day every day, having a passion for what you do will make everything more worthwhile. It might take some time to find this passion, but Henry Ford’s life lessons show us that they are worth fighting for.

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7. Anything is possible.

Last but not least, Henry Ford showed the world that anything is possible. He built an iconic company from the ground up, running it himself, buying out investors, and making it bigger and better every year. He did his research, learned from great business owners who were using assembly lines, and adapted it to fit his product. He was an innovator and someone who championed personal growth. He treated his employees well and raised their wages. He encouraged others to do the same. Like any person, he was not perfect, but his story offers some great life lessons that can still be used to this day.

In my opinion, Henry Ford is definitely worthy of his status as one of America’s great businessmen. His life lessons can certainly help all of us to stretch ourselves, dream big, remain accountable, and strive for excellence.

Which of these life lessons is most relevant to your life right now?

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Catherine Alford

Catherine is the go to personal finance expert for educated, aspirational moms who want to recapture their life passions.

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Last Updated on August 20, 2019

Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

Most of the skills I use to make a living are skills I’ve learned on my own: Web design, desktop publishing, marketing, personal productivity skills, even teaching! And most of what I know about science, politics, computers, art, guitar-playing, world history, writing, and a dozen other topics, I’ve picked up outside of any formal education.

This is not to toot my own horn at all; if you stop to think about it, much of what you know how to do you’ve picked up on your own. But we rarely think about the process of becoming self-taught. This is too bad, because often, we shy away from things we don’t know how to do without stopping to think about how we might learn it — in many cases, fairly easily.

The way you approach the world around you dictates to a great degree whether you will find learning something new easy or hard. Learning comes easily to people who have developed:

Curiosity

Being curious means you look forward to learning new things and are troubled by gaps in your understanding of the world. New words and ideas are received as challenges and the work of understanding them is embraced.

People who lack curiosity see learning new things as a chore — or worse, as beyond their capacities.

Patience

Depending on the complexity of a topic, learning something new can take a long time. And it’s bound to be frustrating as you grapple with new terminologies, new models, and apparently irrelevant information.

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When you are learning something by yourself, there is nobody to control the flow of information, to make sure you move from basic knowledge to intermediate and finally advanced concepts.

Patience with your topic, and more importantly with yourself is crucial — there’s no field of knowledge that someone in the world hasn’t managed to learn, starting from exactly where you are.

A Feeling for Connectedness

This is the hardest talent to cultivate, and is where most people flounder when approaching a new topic.

A new body of knowledge is always easiest to learn if you can figure out the way it connects to what you already know. For years, I struggled with calculus in college until one day, my chemistry professor demonstrated how to do half-life calculations using integrals. From then on, calculus came much easier, because I had made a connection between a concept I understood well (the chemistry of half-lifes) and a field I had always struggled in (higher maths).

The more you look for and pay attention to the connections between different fields, the more readily your mind will be able to latch onto new concepts.

With a learning attitude in place, working your way into a new topic is simply a matter of research, practice, networking, and scheduling:

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1. Research

Of course, the most important step in learning something new is actually finding out stuff about it. I tend to go through three distinct phases when I’m teaching myself a new topic:

Learning the Basics

Start as all things start today: Google it! Somehow people managed to learn before Google ( I learned HTML when Altavista was the best we got!) but nowadays a well-formed search on Google will get you a wealth of information on any topic in seconds.

Surfing Wikipedia articles is a great way to get a basic grounding in a new field, too — and usually the Wikipedia entry for your search term will be on the first page of your Google search.

What I look for is basic information and then the work of experts — blogs by researchers in a field, forums about a topic, organizational websites, magazines. I subscribe to a bunch of RSS feeds to keep up with new material as it’s posted, I print out articles to read in-depth later, and I look for the names of top authors or top books in the field.

Hitting the Books

Once I have a good outline of a field of knowledge, I hit the library. I look up the key names and titles I came across online, and then scan the shelves around those titles for other books that look interesting.

Then, I go to the children’s section of the library and look up the same call numbers — a good overview for teens is probably going to be clearer, more concise, and more geared towards learning than many adult books.

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Long-Term Reference

While I’m reading my stack of books from the library, I start keeping my eyes out for books I will want to give a permanent place on my shelves. I check online and brick-and-mortar bookstores, but also search thrift stores, used bookstores, library book sales, garage sales, wherever I happen to find myself in the presence of books.

My goal is a collection of reference manuals and top books that I will come back to either to answer thorny questions or to refresh my knowledge as I put new skills into practice. And to do this cheaply and quickly.

2. Practice

Putting new knowledges into practice helps us develop better understandings now and remember more later. Although a lot of books offer exercises and self-tests, I prefer to jump right in and build something: a website, an essay, a desk, whatever.

A great way to put any new body of knowledge into action is to start a blog on it — put it out there for the world to see and comment on.

Just don’t lock your learning up in your head where nobody ever sees how much you know about something, and you never see how much you still don’t know.

3. Network

One of the most powerful sources of knowledge and understanding in my life have been the social networks I have become embedded in over the years — the websites I write on, the LISTSERV I belong to, the people I talk with and present alongside at conferences, my colleagues in the department where I studied and the department where I now teach, and so on.

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These networks are crucial to extending my knowledge in areas I am already involved, and for referring me to contacts in areas where I have no prior experience. Joining an email list, emailing someone working in the field, asking colleagues for recommendations, all are useful ways of getting a foothold in a new field.

Networking also allows you to test your newly-acquired knowledge against others’ understandings, giving you a chance to grow and further develop.

4. Schedule

For anything more complex than a simple overview, it pays to schedule time to commit to learning. Having the books on the shelf, the top websites bookmarked, and a string of contacts does no good if you don’t give yourself time to focus on reading, digesting, and implementing your knowledge.

Give yourself a deadline, even if there is no externally imposed time limit, and work out a schedule to reach that deadline.

Final Thoughts

In a sense, even formal education is a form of self-guided learning — in the end, a teacher can only suggest and encourage a path to learning, at best cutting out some of the work of finding reliable sources to learn from.

If you’re already working, or have a range of interests beside the purely academic, formal instruction may be too inconvenient or too expensive to undertake. That doesn’t mean you have to set aside the possibility of learning, though; history is full of self-taught successes.

At its best, even a formal education is meant to prepare you for a life of self-guided learning; with the power of the Internet and the mass media at our disposal, there’s really no reason not to follow your muse wherever it may lead.

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Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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