Words vs Deeds

August 6, 2019
James Whittaker

Check out this episode on the Win the Day Podcast

“You can't build a reputation on what you are going to do.”

Henry Ford

Most people have the best of intentions—why is it, then, that extraordinary success is seemingly reserved for so few people?

We all know that action is an essential ingredient to success, but there are many different types of action. Your choice determines the difference between those who keep running around in circles versus those who are able to continuously level-up.

You might have heard that the best way to predict the future is to create it. It’s a brilliant quote.

Who has put this idea into practice?

  • Steve Jobs created the future of music with the iPod, then telecommunications with the iPhone.
  • Sara Blakely created the future of women’s fashion with Spanx.
  • Mark Zuckerberg created the future of marketing with Facebook, even though it was initially launched as a way for college pals to keep in touch.
  • Nick Woodman created the action camera market with GoPro.
  • Elon Musk is creating the future it with every company he owns.

You get the idea. There are endless examples, and I’m sure you can think of a few yourself!

Let’s think again about the episode quote: “You can't build a reputation on what you are going to do.” What I love about that quote is how directly it talks about the importance of purposeful action. Your reputation is built on what you’ve already done. It is not built on how well you talk about what you’re going to do.

This quote is even more powerful when considered in context. In Henry Ford’s time, and we’re talking around the year 1900, horses were the primary mode of transportation. They filled the streets of every city and were used for mail, transport, and entertainment.

But they weren’t perfect.

Horse shit was left all over the streets (a problem so offensive that it became an expression in itself), and when horses died they would leave behind a heavy, smelly carcass that would need at least one more horse to drag it away. They were vulnerable in bad weather. Not to mention the dozens of other complexities with having an actual animal as the engine—the primary mode of transportation.

There had to be a better way. Alas, horses had been commonplace for so long that most people simply assumed they would be around forever—just like they did with Kodak, Blockbuster, and Nokia. After all, horses changed the face of warfare, revolutionized numerous other industries, and today we still use the expression ‘send in the cavalry.'

Seeing the future, Ford had a dream to build a horseless carriage. His aim was to provide a product that boasted all the benefits of this dependable mode of transportation, while eliminating the problems that had caused frustration for owners, passengers, and government officials.

When hearing about Ford’s idea, everyone scoffed and said that would be impossible. If it wasn’t the pipe-dream that turned them off, it was probably the fact that Ford didn’t have a degree from a fancy university. In fact, not only did not Ford not attend university, he never even went to high school.

This is an interesting juncture in our story because I am assuming that everyone reading this has either owned a Ford or gone for a ride in a Ford vehicle?

So we know how the story ends.

Above: A triumphant Henry Ford observing his defeated foe.

But how was a poor, uneducated man able to completely revolutionize transportation, and in the process become one of the wealthiest and most famous people on the planet?

Ford was crystal clear about his dream, but then he realized there was one problem—he could only do so much alone. Many people abandon their dream at that point, when the odds seem insurmountable and they start listening to the ill-informed opinions of others, and many others would have forfeited before even getting to that point.

But Ford realized that he didn’t need to have all the answers himself. He used purposeful action. He surrounded himself with people who aligned with his values and got them excited in his mission. As his extraordinary journey continued, and more and more people joined the ride—all working in harmony toward a single aim—Ford realized that his pie-in-the-sky dream would soon become a reality.

In the 109 years since it was founded, the Ford Motor Company has built more than 350 million automobiles, averaging a new car every 10 seconds. So enamored was Napoleon Hill with Ford’s methods that he references it profusely in Think and Grow Rich, the bestselling book of all time.

Henry Ford passed away in 1947 with a net worth of more than US $200 billion (adjusted for inflation). Not bad for a poor, illiterate kid who was even labelled “an ignorant anarchist” by The Chicago Tribune.

Let’s quickly think about a few important questions:

  • What idea are you sitting on right now?
  • What is that intuition deep inside that excites you about creating a better world?
  • What’s a problem many people face right now that is crying out for a solution?
  • Who are the people you’re surrounding with—are they helping elevate your dreams or pulling you down?

To change the world, you need to:

  • Dream big
  • Believe in yourself
  • Develop a passion for understanding the problem as much as you can, and
  • Surround yourself with people who are obsessed with helping you craft a powerful solution.

To finish, I just want to leave you with something Barbara Corcoran told me during our interview:

“When I heard what [Henry] Ford did, it made me realize I didn’t need to know everything. I could build an empire on someone else’s knowledge.”

If you’re not tapping into the efforts of others, you’re going to get run-over by those who are.

Onwards and upwards always,
James Whittaker

In case you missed it:
How to Become a Financial Winner

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