Friday, June 3, 2011

ReTHINK : Food for thought, The Honda Story

In 1938, while he was still in school, Mr. Honda took everything he owned and invested it in a
little workshop where he began to develop his concept of a piston ring. He wanted to sell his work to
Toyota Corporation, so he labored day and night, up to his elbows in grease, sleeping in the machine shop, always believing he could produce the result. He even pawned his wife's jewelry to stay in business. But when he finally completed the piston rings and presented them to Toyota, he was told they didn't meet Toyota's standards. He was sent back to school for two years, where he heard the derisive laughter of his instructors and fellow students as they talked about how absurd his designs were. But rather than focusing on the pain of the experience, he decided to continue to focus on his goal. Finally, after two more years, Toyota gave Mr. Honda the contract he'd dreamed of. His passion and belief paid off because he had known what he wanted, taken action, noticed what was working, and kept changing his approach until he got what he wanted. Then a new problem arose.

The Japanese government was gearing up for war, and they refused to give him the concrete
that was necessary to build his factory. Did he quit there? No. Did he focus on how unfair this was? Did
it mean to him that his dream had died? Absolutely not. Again, he decided to utilize the experience,
and developed another strategy. He and his team invented a process for creating their own concrete
and then built their factory. During the war, it was bombed twice, destroying major portions of the
manufacturing facility. Honda's response? He immediately rallied his team, and they picked up the
extra gasoline cans that the U.S. fighters had discarded. He called them "gifts from President Truman"
because they provided him with the raw materials he needed for his manufacturing process—materials
that were unavailable at the time in Japan. Finally, after surviving all of this, an earthquake leveled his
factory. Honda decided to sell his piston operation to Toyota.

Here is a man who clearly made strong decisions to succeed. He had a passion for and belief in
what he was doing. He had a great strategy. He took massive action. He kept changing his approach,
but still he'd not produced the results that he was committed to. Yet he decided to persevere.
After the war, a tremendous gasoline shortage hit Japan, and Mr. Honda couldn't even drive his
car to get food for his family. Finally, in desperation, he attached a small motor to his bicycle. The next
thing he knew, his neighbors were asking if he could make one of his "motorized bikes" for them. One
after another, they jumped on the bandwagon until he ran out of motors. He decided to build a plant
that would manufacture motors for his new invention, but unfortunately he didn't have the capital.

As before, he made the decision to find a way no matter what! His solution was to appeal to the
18,000 bicycle shop owners in Japan by writing them each a personal letter. He told them how they
could play a role in revitalizing Japan through the mobility that his invention could provide, and
convinced 5,000 of them to advance the capital he needed. Still, his motorbike sold to only the most
hard-core bicycle fans because it was too big and bulky. So he made one final adjustment, and created
a much lighter, scaled-down version of his motorbike. He christened it "The Super Cub," and it became
an "overnight" success, earning him the Emperor's award. Later, he began to export his motorbikes to
the baby boomers of Europe and the United States, following up in the seventies with the cars that
have become so popular.

Today, the Honda Corporation employs over 100,000 people in both the United States and Japan
and is considered one of the biggest car-making empires in Japan, outselling all but Toyota in the
United States. It succeeds because one man understood the power of a truly committed decision that
is acted upon, no matter what the conditions, on a continuous basis.

Honda certainly knew that sometimes when you make a decision and take action, in the short term it
may look like it's not working.
challenges that we have in our personal lives—like indulging constantly in overeating, drinking, or
smoking, to feeling overwhelmed and giving up on our dreams—come from a short-term focus.

Success and failure are not overnight experiences. It's all the small decisions along the way that cause
people to fail. It's failure to follow up. It's failure to take action. It's failure to persist. It's failure to
manage our mental and emotional states. It's failure to control what we focus on. Conversely, success
is the result of making small decisions: deciding to hold yourself to a higher standard, deciding to
contribute, deciding to feed your mind rather than allowing the environment to control you—these
small decisions create the life experience we call success.
In order to succeed, you must have a long-term focus. Most of the