I’m reading My Life and Work by Henry Ford. It’s important to read the autobiographies of GREAT MEN: primary sources being superior to secondary ones, generally speaking.

In a revealing part of the story, he discusses the first time he ever witnessed a machine other than a horse-drawn carriage. He was sitting on a wagon with his father when he saw a primitive road engine passing by. Ford—only 12 at the time—was mesmorized. Without any coaxing, he approached the engineer and began asking questions in order to learn more:

The engine had stopped to let us pass with our horses and I was off the wagon and talking to the engineer before my father, who was driving, knew what I was up to.

Nobody pushed him to learn more…he did it himself. No social programs were created to help him “find his passion”: the passion was already inside of him. In short, nature is stronger than nurture. You have a destiny with greatness or you don’t.

Note that many children would be apathetic in the same scenario. They’d be dreaming of a toy, staring at a cloud, or thinking of a fantasy. Others would be interested, but would remain seated. But not Henry Ford. He was pro-active, jumping at the opportunity to challenge his intellect.

The greatness of Henry Ford was written in his DNA.

See Related Article: You Either Have Ambition or You Don’t

6 thoughts on “The Greatness of Henry Ford Was in His DNA

  1. DNA is really really intriguing, and it’s sad that it’s kind of unfair (life’s not fair though… but still, to me it’s sad).

    My family has really strange DNA… part Polish Jewish (long story about my great great grandparents being orphans in a German household and servants there, who got out before Hitler because they were sent TWICE visas for America). They had no idea who was sending those secret visas to get them out before Hitler… it’s still a mystery in the family unsolved.

    Then on my maternal grandfather’s side, his relatives go all the way back to Queen Elizabeth and her aunts (the Boyelyn sisters).

    Even the wife I just wrote about in that “Support Your Husband in His Mission” post, we’re actually related to her from that side.

    But again… those are all things I never could control, so I feel guilt over them to some degree.

    1. “But again… those are all things I never could control, so I feel guilt over them to some degree.”

      Thank you for the response, Stephanie. Out of curiosity, what do you feel guilt about?

      1. Lots of things! Guilty that I had great parents… guilty that they were wise… guilty that I came from a good lineage… guilty that difficult coursework in the hard sciences came easily to me and I made A’s when a ton of classmates were failing or seemed not able to understand the same concepts… just lots and lots of stuff that I think I probably didn’t have as much to do with (a lot of your intelligence is inherited which is just sad for the people who don’t have that).

  2. I taught myself computer programming on a Commodore computer out of a spiral-bound instruction book; no teacher, class or encouragement. We didn’t have a disk drive for it (actually a cassette tape reader!) so I lost everything every time it was turned off. That didn’t stop me from writing hundred-line programs and crude games.

    I remained a gifted programmer until college when Windows 95 came out. Suddenly, programming had to be done exclusively in a Windows environment and I’d only used DOS. I couldn’t make the transition despite many attempts and finally gave up. Today, I can barely write an Excel macro.

    Where would Henry Ford have ended up had cars suddenly exploded in complexity? I envy him how accessible technology was. His was a time when men knew their tools.

    1. Good point. I guess that being in the right place at the right time helps.

      In the book, he mentions that as a boy, he assembled/re-assembled his watches countless times. In short, smaller technologies give way to larger ones. He even postulated that it was his understanding and interest in the basic watch that fueled his interest in larger mechanical items.

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