a man, an engine, and a dash of imagination

Visionaries change the world…

They have an uncanny ability to see what others can’t.

They can see what can be and simply set out to make it so.

Steve Jobs was one such visionary.

First he revolutionized the music industry with the iPod, the MP3 player that was both hip and easy to use.

Then a few years later he transformed the communication industry with the advent of the smartphone; the iPhone.

It has completed changed how we do business, keep in touch with others and even shop.

But he wasn’t finished and finally managed to do what so many other companies had tried to do, make the tablet both practical and cool. He succeeded with the iPad which singlehandedly created the market.

Before him we had such visionaries such as

  • Bill Gates and his vision of getting a computer into everyone’s home.
  • Sam Walton succeeded in taking 20 stores and turning them into the Walmart empire
  • The Beatles turned the music world upside down and 50 years later are still as popular as ever
  • Thomas Edison created the light bulb and with it a new energy source

Today I’d like to share with you my favorite story when it comes to being a visionary.

Henry Ford pioneered the assembly line which allowed him to successfully mass produce cars.

What really set him apart was Ford’s ability to not accept the status quo.

All one has to do is Google his name and you’ll come across some incredible quotes that display what incredible insight he had to achievement.

But the story that best illustrates this is the story of the V8 engine.

Ford himself did not have much formal education. In fact, he did not go to school beyond the age of 14.

But what he lacked in education, he more than made up for in imagination. His ignorance turned out to be a gift because though he didn’t know how to build a V8 engine he wasn’t willing to accept what everyone else told him couldn’t be done.

He asked all his highly qualified, educated people to build one.

They proceeded to tell him what could and couldn’t be done. And according to them, a V8 engine was an impossibility.

But Henry Ford insisted on having his V8, and told them to go back and make it a reality.

A few months later he asked his people if they had the V8 and they replied, “We know what can be done and we also know what cannot be done and V8 is an impossibility.”

6 months later, again. They came back and said, “You don’t understand. It can’t be done.”

Ford (and I’m paraphrasing) said, “No gentlemen, you don’t understand. I want a V8 engine. And I shall have it. Either you make it a reality or I will find someone that will.”

Shortly thereafter the V8 engine was created, by precisely the same people who said it couldn’t be done.

At first they had accepted what was known, Henry Ford challenged them to go beyond what they had learnt and challenge them to think “outside the box,” the result, as they say, is history.

Henry Ford never gave up believing or asking for what he wanted.

Too many times we give in to the negative voices all around us. Parents, friends, acquaintances, teachers…there is always someone out there telling you “No, it can’t be done.”

Personally, I see “can’ts” as a challenge.

And as I’ve found, there are very few “can’ts” that can’t be overcome with hard work, perseverance and a dash of imagination.

If it’s good enough for Henry Ford, it’s good enough for me.

Adrian Shepherd

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