Henry Ford.

Ford ideals : being a selection from Mr. Ford's page in The Dearborn Independent online

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motive power is the necessity of three meals a day.
If everyone stopped eating, very little business would
be done. We must feed ourselves, and the work of
doing that breeds a lot of related work, and so it
goes on. broadening into what we know as modern

When business slows up. is it a sign that the people
have slowed up on tood? \o. I'suallv it is a sign
that those who handle the nionev are afraid to set
things going. \\itli no pressure on their gainful
nature Irom without, thev refuse to start a motive
power within.

The basis of business is always with us. in the
primary needs of life. The medium of business is


always with us in the form of money. It is only a
question of starting the thing going.

We don't have to wait for China or Germany to
give us the sign to get busy; we can get busy right
here among ourselves, on our own concerns. .

This brings it straight down to the individual who
has capital, and who hangs on to it because he can-
not see more of it rolling in. He ought to start some-
thing. Every man of money has in his money the
surplus push which will start the wheels turning again.

The time to push is when the momentum from
without has ceased.

Now is the time for the man of the future to in-
vest in the future. If he has any building to do, let
him do it now. If he has a stock to create, let him
make it now.

Nobody is taking any chances when he gets busy
meeting the future beforehand.

This little breathing spell is a good thing to take
advantage of. Now is the time to spend money and
prepare for tomorrow's business, because it is going
to come rolling in fast.

And then there is the human side of it. Let us
take a lesson from the Government in this. The Gov-
ernment has a great army to provide for. The busi-
ness of that army is to fight. But suppose there comes
a lull of months, when there is no fighting to do. Dur-
ing this war it has happened, as it sometimes does in
industry, that there is nothing for an army to do in
the taslv it was organized for.

We have seen whole winters pass with nothing
special for the armies to do.

Did the Government lay the men off and stop
their pay, saying, ''Come back when the fighting opens
up again and we'll put you on the payroll" ?

No. The Government felt itself under obligation
to keep that army intact and in good trim.

Where is the difference between our fighting
armies and the armies of peace our great industrial
army ?

There are about twenty millions of men engaged in
the industrial maintenance of the United States. They
are our great standing army of production. They are
necessary to our existence as a self-supporting people.



No calamity could overtake the country that would
equal the removal of this great force from agri-
culture, manufacturing and transportation.

Yet what is done with these men in slack times?
They are turned out at their own charges, and ex-
pected to he on hand when they are needed again.

It isn't good management. It isn't the kind of
treatment to which loyalty responds. It breaks us up
into separate interests, when really we are but one
interest and ought to be united for the general wel-

This is one point where we are wrong.

It is easy enough to place the blame, but it is hard
to prove the blame. If any one man could remedy
it, that man could be blamed for not doing so. But
it is too big for any man or group of men to cure by
their own efforts, and therefore it is too big for them
to bear the blame for it.

It is something we must all try to do together,
and do on a system. We must so adjust matters that
the slack in employment will be automatically taken
up. Dullness in one line must be offset by brisk ef-
fort in another.

If we set about it intelligently we could find profit-
able productive work for twice the number of our
present industrial army. America teems with work
waiting to be done. America will never be oversup-
plied with labor if we develop our resources as we
ought. It is the dutv of men of vision, men of re-
source to lay out the new channels for the industry
of new millions of men. There is enough to be done
in America to engage our largest man-power to the
farthest generation.

Individually, it is our dutv to endeavor as far as
we possibly can to regard our own men as our own
regiments in the struggle for industrial civilization,
and to feel a responsibility for them in slack times.
\Ye do not allow our shop machinery to rust in times
of dull business; why should we allow our men to
deteriorate? The cost of tiding over enforced stop-
pages ought to be figured in as a cost of the business

If we undertook to do this, we would he surprised
at the speed we would make in looking for large public


undertakings to be started in order to fill up times of
slack employment. In fact, we would soon have mat-
ters arranged so that slack times would be impossible.
When one line slowed up, we would simply switch
on another, and so keep things going.

It is our duty to do each of us our bit in solving
this problem, and we may be sure that when Amer-
ican business men try to straighten out the industrial
situation and make it square all round, they are going
to succeed. Nothing but selfishness can hinder, for
selfishness is blind.

This talk of the returned soldier being a problem
hardly squares with the facts. He is only two mil-
lions of our twenty millions. He ought to fit back
into business life as readily as he fitted into the army:

To hear some men talk you would think that the
returning soldier would double our dependent popula-
tion. He is bringing up the reserve force that will
put the country over the top.

They talk of putting him to work building roads,
booming worn-out real estate schemes, and so forth.
It is a wonder they would not ask him about it first !

No doubt, after the outdoor life of the army,
thousands of young men will have no desire to enter
the office and store again. They would prefer the
farm. But why plan to settle them 3.000 miles from
the chief markets? There are hundreds of thousands
of unused acres of farm land at the very back doors
of our large eastern markets.

Leave the big unsettled tracts of the \Yest for
wholesale reclamation and power projects. It would
be splendid if we could enlist an army of men to
make the desert bloom and make every mile of our
streams and every foot of our land productive. That
would be an Army of the United States indeed ! And
it would appeal to heroism and constructive general-
ship. And it would bring a service record of which
any man might be proud.

There are big days coming to us. \Ye must get
ready for them. \Ye must act as if we had the or-
ders in our hands now. \Ve must begin to organize
our forces and processes so as to achieve the most
and the best we can.

Prevention Is Better Than

PAINTING the blotch on the skin, and leaving the
blood unpurified, is poor medical practice and poor
business. Unless we go to the root of our wrongs
and grub them out, it is of no use to try to doctor
the branches. Pruning the thorn will not change it
into a potato plant.

You can fight a symptom until the patient dies on
your hands, but unless you get at the cause of his
distemper you are only wasting your time and giving
the disease a stronger hold.

Take the life of our people, for example. We
know that something is wrong with it. It would be
extreme folly for us to deny that.

The man who does deny it is usually the man who
is profiting by the things that are wrong. Because
his nest is soft, he coddles himself into believing that
every nest is soft. He does not want to be disturbed
by any other view of it.

This is one of the strong marks by which you may
distinguish sympathy from selfishness.

Granting that something is wrong in our method
of life*, the wise course to take is not to go about
tinkering and doctoring the effects, but to dig straight
in toward the causes.

You will find, for one part, that something is
wrong with the people themselves. There is a great
deal ot shiftlessness in the world, a great deal of
waste, a great deal of drifting.

^i ou will find men who want to be carried through
on the shoulders of others. You will find men who
believe that the world (')XX'KS them a living, by which
they seem to mean that their employer owes them a
living. They don't seem to see that we must all lift
together and pull together, or nobody will have any
livinir whatever.


It is one of the most harmful thoughts a man can
harbor that he is at the mercy of any other man.
We are all units of power. We are all parts of the
social order. Wherever one of us holds back or falls
down, there is a gap, and the whole line suffers by
that much.

All this is true enough, but to stop here is to miss
half the truth. Many people stop here. They lay
the whole blame for poverty and failure and suf-
fering and waste upon individuals.

But our scheme of society is at fault, too. We do
many things badly. We permit too many practices
that take advantage of the weak. We open too wide
a field to the grabber. After we have charged up
all we can to individual fault, there is a big social
fault that must be accounted for.

And one of our most glaring mistakes is to try to
cover up the results of social faults by charity, in-
stead of striking at the causes which make charity
seem necessary.

Charity at its best is only a makeshift. It is an
endless patching of a garment that ought to be thrown
away and a new one made. Charity lowers the self-
respect of the person who receives it and it deadens
the conscience of the person who gives it. It offers
far too easy an escape from a harder job.

We say we are sorry for the hungry man. How
sorry are we? We are sorry enough to give him a
little food. But are we sorry enough to go out and
tackle the conditions that make hunger possible?

We say we are sorry for the unemployed. But
bow sorry are we? Are we sorry enough to shoulder
the job of abolishing unemployment from the land
by a new and daring system of industrial advance?

It is easy enough to be sorry, and to ease our own
sorrow by a trifling gift. For that is really what we
do in most of our makeshift charity we simply ease
our own pain at the sight of suffering. Whether we
really ease the suffering of the other man, or improve
his condition, is quite another matter.

We were sorrv for the man wounded in battle, and
so we supported the Red Cross and other humane
agencies. But how many of us were sorrv enough to



undertake to abolish war altogether? To aid the
wounded was easier than to tackle the big blunder
that has been wounding men for centuries.

We can go on to the end of time patching up the
wounded who ought never to have been wounded,
feeding the hungry who ought never to have been
hungry, helping the poor who ought never to have
been poor and at the end of all our efforts we shall
still have war and poverty as much as before.

Regarded from the standpoint of efficiency our
charity system fails ; no matter how hard we try we
are never able to cover the ground. We are always
missing someone. From whatever angle you study
it, charity is a poor substitute for reform.

We must go deeper if we are ever to accomplish
anything worth while.

And we must quit being satisfied with our charity
if we are ever to see the real job that awaits us. And
it is no easy job, either; it is not for bunglers, nor
for hasty people, nor for any one who believes in any-
thing but sound construction.

The doctors are ahead of us on this line. Their
great word now is. Prevention. When typhoid breaks
out, they do not content themselves with giving their
best service to the afflicted individuals ; they know
that typhoid is a disease that no man ever ought to
have, and so they search out its source. They abolish
it there.

The progress of medicine does not consist merely
in discovering cures for disease, but in abolishing it
so utterly that it will cease to be a problem.

We need that word in our efforts toward a better
kind ot social and industrial life Prevention.

Instead of organizing great machinery and making
great appeals for money to camouflage the effects of
our social system, we ought to be at work preventing
the effects. "

The very best charity we know anything about is
to help a man to the place where he will never need it

Nothing seems more useless than the trouble we
take to ease the effects, when half the trouble would
serve to destroy the cause.

\\ e get up tancy dances, we give theatricals, we


make budgets and take up collections, we sell tickets
for this and that from one year's end to the other
we undertake great expense to grant a little temporary
benefit, and when we get through we haven't touched
the real problem.

Surely the futility of it ought to get through our
minds very soon !

It is not the charitable mind that one objects to.
Heaven forbid that we should ever grow cold toward
a fellow-creature in need. Human sympathy is a
great motive power, and no cool, calculating attitude
will take the place of it. One can name very few of
the great advances which were not due to human sym-
pathy. It is in order to do something for people that
every notable service is undertaken.

The trouble is that we have been using this great
motive force for too small ends. If human sympathy
prompts us to feed the hungry, why should it not give
a much greater prompting toward making hunger im-
possible ?

If we have sympathy enough for people to help
them IN their trouble, surely we ought to have feeling
enough to help them OUT OF their trouble.

The difficulty is that the latter is a different sort
of task. This kind of help costs more than common

We must look beyond the individual to the causes
of his misery, not hesitating to relieve him in the
meantime, of course, but not stopping with that.

It is a pity that we have to confess that more
people can be moved to help a poor family than can
be moved to give their minds toward the removal of
poverty altogether.

We have a human conscience all right ; cannot
we develop it into a social conscience?

But people say, "What can I do?" And men in
positions of leadership say, "What can we do?" Well,
this is certain whatever is done will have to be done
by all of us together, so that it is time for all of us
to get busy.

And this is certain we cannot improve condi-
tions by kicking over the methods which make our
conditions as good as they are.


Grant that something is wrong; still we cannot
say that everything is wrong. If it were, there would
be much more suffering in the world than we now see.

Comparing the present with the past, there is far
less poverty than ever before ; our material life is on
a much higher level than it has ever been.

So far, so good. But comparing the present with
what ought to be, and what could be, we cannot fail
to see that much is yet to be done.

What can we do to create what ought to be?

Our first duty is our own duty. We must do our
best where we are. W 7 e must be fair where we are.
We must do honest work where we are.

No one who throws down his tools is helping to
abolish poverty.

Whatever we may agree to do in the future, we
may be sure of this : we shall never be able to make
any program go without work.

If work is to be necessary in the better order of
things, work is a good quality to develop now.

Every man who works is helping to drive poverty
out of the world first his own. and then that of his

The man who does better and more productive
work lodav than he did yesterday is a social reformer
of the highest type. lie is doing something genuine.
lie is squaring his own account with the world, and
helping others to square theirs.

Kvery time a man stops work, he throws that
much extra burden on others; he creates that much
mo'-e povertv for the world.

It is not the men who are doing the talking who
are solving our problems, but the men who are at
work. When they talk, they kno\v what it is about.

And after work, the next duty is to think. Xo-
hodv can think straight who does not work. Idleness
warps the mind. It is a wonder we do not lu-ar more
about that tact- -that the practiced hand gives bal-
ance to the brain.

Thinking which does not connect with constructive
a'tion becomes a disease; the man who has it sees
crooked; his views are lopsided.

Xo one man can think out our great problems for



us. We believe in democracy because we believe that
the collective mind is better than any single mind.

It is the people thinking together, and planning to-
gether, and acting together, that make the great ad-
vances possible.

In the long run the people are cool-headed.

That is one of the reasons why changes seem to
come so slowly: the people do not risk the big mis-
takes which end in the big tragedies. Every age
teems with theories which only require to stand awhile,
and then their falsity is revealed.

We don't have to test every theory that is offered.
Let it stand. If it is right, it will endure. If it is
wrong, the public mind simply outgrows it.

No one can imagine how much worse off we
should be if we followed every theory and every
leader that promised us the Golden Age.

So, if our progress seems slow, it is only the
people's carefulness not to make a mis-step.

But there is progress being made all the time, now
in this direction, now in that, and then all along the
line. And such progress is a social creation. It is
the people moving up.

And that is the only kind of progress there is.

If we have not always gone forward rapidly, there
is a very great fact to set against that fact : the race
has not had to retrace many steps because of false


Success Plays No Favorites

SOMEONE has said that "imitation is the sincerest
flattery," but that is only a hint to those who wish
to flatter. Imitation is a confession that the thing
which is imitated is better than one can do himself ;
it is also a confession that one is content to be an

The truth about imitation is found in another
saying "Imitation is suicide."

Certainly it is the end of initiative and independ-
ence ; it is the farewell of originality ; it is the delib-
erate abandonment of individuality, and the enemy of

This has a direct bearing on a subject in which
everybody is interested Success.

Too often we hear Success spoken of as if it can
be imitated. Successful men are held up as examples
to young people who are advised, "Do as this man
did it." Methods of success are held up for imita-
tion with the counsel, "Follow this course and it will
lead to success."

But success does not come by imitation. An im-
itation may be quite successful in its own way, but
imitation can never be Success.

Success is a first-hand creation. Take a thousand
successful men, and each man's story will be different.
It will be original. His grasp of opportunity, his
methods, his plan of meeting and overcoming ob-
stacles, all of these things will be different.

The most dangerous notion a young man can
acquire is that there is no more room for originality.
There is no large room for anything else.

Let us put to one side the usual arguments against
imitation in the search for Success. Everybody knows
what they are, so that we need not recount them here.

Hut it is not always so clear why much of our
Success advice is dangerous.



It is very unwise to look too long at the successful
person. It is most unwise to copy after him.

Because the things which you will first see, the
qualities which will stand out as marking him, arc
probably not the ones to which he owes his success.
And yet, because they are most prominent, it will
appear that they hold the secret of his power. Very
often they are blemishes, and had they not been over-
balanced by other qualities which are not so easily per-
ceived they might have caused his failure.

You see a man who is very successful and who
is at the same time very unfeeling. His heart is hard.
Me regards other men as so many bricks to build with.
Mis conscience seems to be asleep. Me rides over
every human instinct and crushes every human con-
sideration that would oppose him. Looking at such a
man, it is easy to say, "To succeed, you must be like
that ; you must harden your heart and go rough-shod
over everything."

Or you may see another successful man who ap-
pears to be very daring. Me seems to do everything
thoughtlessly, on the spur of the moment, in a bril-
liant dare-devil spirit. He does not appear to trust to
anything but luck. But matters turn out fortunately
for him. and therefore it is easv to draw the con-
clusion, "The way to be successful is to fling ahead
regardless, gamble with chance, and trust affairs to
come out all right."

These appearances may be very misleading. Dis-
honest men do sometimes achieve great financial suc-
cess American financial history shows that. Un-
feeling, cruel-hearted men sometimes win great for-
tunes in industry \ve don't have to look far to see it.

But the question is: Is their success due to dis-
honesty and hardness, or to qualities that are not so
prominent ?

\\ e must declare that dishonesty is not sufficient to
win success. A man must have something beside a
hard heart to win success.

He may have these undesirable qualities he may
have them in large measure but has he other quali-
ties beside?


If you look closely at these men you will see that
they do have other qualities. They have strength,
foresight, knowledge, skill, experience, endurance, ap-
plication, determination, gifts of management, judg-

But these are not surface qualities. They do not
stand out. They are seen only on close examination
of the man and his business.

Take a group of successful men, sort out the ones
who have undesirable traits of character men who
have broken the laws of the land and the laws of
humanity, men who have wrung their money out of
other men's labor and out of the public's necessity
and you can easily make out an argument that Sue
cess is the sign of a bad character.

But the law of Success is impartial. So long as
you have the qualities necessary for success, it is to
be won, even if you have other qualities which alone
would spell failure.

You may have a character which is perfect in every
other respect, and yet if you lack the qualities neces-
sary to success, you will never win it.

Success, then, is a matter of certain qualities com-
ing into play.

Now you cannot imitate a quality. You must cre-
ate it. develop it. If you are fooled into thinking that
hardness and dishonesty are qualities of Success, and
you develop these, you will find that they will not
make you a successful man at all. Hardness will make
you a bully and dishonesty will make you a crook.
You must develop other characteristics if you would
be successful.

We are not considering genius here at all. Genius
is a gift. It comes to very few. We are discussing
the normal man who enters life endowed with phys-
ical health, his five senses, and the average degree ol

The genius walks into his success. The rest of us
must work for ours.

Now, what is Success?

Some sav that Success is not monev. Well, it is
doubtless true that monev is not the whole of Suc-



cess, and yet in these days you never see any kind of
Success that does not have money somewhere around
it. Certainly money is not the end of life, but it is a
sign. Since everyone needs money to live as he ought,
to develop himself, to give scope to his powers, money
has become not only a necessary part of living, but
the ambition to command enough of it to do these
things has become a commendable ambition.

Success is each man finding the work he can do
best, doing it to his highest satisfaction, and getting
the proof of his service in a suitable reward.

If he is the kind of man who has still greater vi-
sions of service which need still more money to realize,
Success is his getting enough money to fulfill his serv-
ice. There is no harm in large sums of money if
they are kept at work opening up lines of opportunity
and service. The only harmful money is the money
which lies idle, or is used to block progress.

Money for money's sake is a perfectly stupid motto.

Online LibraryHenry FordFord ideals : being a selection from Mr. Ford's page in The Dearborn Independent → online text (page 5 of 35)