The Secret Sauce of Success

“Improvise, Adapt, and Overcome.” unofficial motto of the United States Marine Corps

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In just twenty-five years Henry Ford went from Nowheresville to being the wealthiest man in America. How did he do it? He responded creatively to his environment and he didn’t take “No” for an answer. One story goes that Mr. Ford came up with the idea for the assembly line in his Ford Motor Plant after visiting a meat packing business, where he witnessed the opposite in action – the disassembly line method of packing meat.

Another story says that Mr. Ford’s engineers repeatedly told him the V8 engine was an impossibility. Ford didn’t listen and kept his engineers working on it until they figured it out. Though must of us will never become a captain of industry, we can still benefit from the lessons gleaned from those few among us who do.

Henry Ford had tapped into one of the keys of mental toughness — a responsive mind. Someone with a responsive mind continually monitors his or her thinking patterns, feelings, and psychological and physiological needs. In doing so, he, or she as the case may be, can detect and head off small problems before they become big ones. In fact such a person may regularly carry a bag of nuts or something else to eat, because he knows he becomes irritable and loses concentration when hungry.

Moreover, a person with a responsive mind is inherently proactive, continually seeking for creative solutions to everyday challenges. Henry Ford and his competitors all faced a similar challenge, and opportunity — how to produce more cars, more quickly and more efficiently? Ford looked outside what he knew for a creative solution and found one. By reversing the method used by meat packers, Mr. Ford created an enormous advantage for himself and revolutionized the auto industry.

Jim Rohn said, “the same wind blows on us all. It is not the wind that determines our future, but the set of our sail. It is the set of our sail that determines where we end up two, three, five years from now.” People with responsive minds are continually adjusting the set of their sail.

The greatest benefit of developing a responsive mind, is better control of your life. You determine where you go, by properly setting your sail, even when the wind is unfavorable. Henry Ford didn’t make his own wind, he merely harvested the wind by setting a better sail.

To set a better sail we must be aware of our surroundings and how we fit into them. We must also know our bearing, or have an idea of where we want to go. We must be like Henry Ford. We must not limit our awareness to our own neighborhood and we must have a clear vision of what we want. These are the hallmarks of a responsive mind.

Ford devised the assembly line from the disassembly line and created the V8 engine because he did both. He responded to to his environment and to his own needs with creativity and determination.

To develop a more responsive mind we must learn to:

  1. become more aware;
  2. set our bearing (or set goals); and
  3. set a better sail (or be more proactive).

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