“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”
– Henry Ford
Henry Ford was a visionary in his time and remains a legend today. His innovation of the mass-produced automobile, made available in an affordable price range, changed the world as people in the early 1900s knew it; creating a landslide of ingenuity throughout the world. Cars, trucks, and other vehicles are produced by the same fashion to this day; even more efficiently now with the evolution of modern technology. Could all this have come about without Ford’s help? It’s very possible. However, it was Ford who began the process, changing the way the automobile was produced, thus changing the lives of millions around the globe.
Ford was a genius in his field, that is true. But the famous quote listed above goes much deeper than it appears on the surface. You see, Ford was a visionary in the automobile industry, but he was also a visionary of a different token. He was famous for his belief that a person is capable of anything if they set their mind to it, and he proved this in his own life. His quote at the top of this page speaks volumes about the mindset of society in general, at the time of Ford’s own great success as well as in the present. Ultimately, it boils down to the idea that if something is unknown to us, we will rarely see it as a possibility.
The human mind is wired in a way where we are programmed to recognize the familiar, while shying away from things we don’t understand, to some degree. We like things that we know, that we feel we can trust, that we are comfortable with. If we are confronted with something new that we cannot immediately understand, it seems strange to us and we dismiss it. It comes from a place of fear; of the unknown, of leaving our comfort zones, of starting new things. This, I believe, is what Henry Ford meant when he said the above quote. I also believe that he was in a similar state of mind when he said his other very famous quote (which just so happens to be my favorite):
“If you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.”
Henry Ford’s innovation opened up a whole new world to the automobile industry, and a whole new way of thinking to the world. Just like others before and after him that brought about new inventions, this new way of thinking changed the way people thought about something they had previously considered to be true.
Too often in our lives, we are marred with a way of thinking that limits us. We want to feel secure, safe, and as in control of our surroundings as possible. But people like Henry Ford break this cycle with the simple thought, “what if?” If more people thought this way, and dared to break free of their comfortable, secure lives, everything would be different. There would be less succumbing to fear, less staying small, less conforming to the norms of society that we have all come to recognize as how we should be, do, think or feel.
If more visionaries were encouraged to think for themselves, given the freedom to explore their ideas that don’t necessarily fit in with what we consider normal, and act on their intuitive inspiration, our world would be a completely different place all together. It would be a freer, more enjoyable place, instead of one where we all feel the need to keep our big ideas to ourselves. It would be the kind of place where the prolifically talented artist child would be encouraged to doodle on his homework, rather than be admonished for making a mess of it. It would be the kind of place where the young vocalist would be praised for her beautiful humming, versus being sent to the office for disrupting class. It would be the kind of place where we would all feel free to be who we really are. That’s the kind of world I want to live in. How about you?