Poor old misunderstood Henry Ford. You’ve heard the story; they’ve blown it out of proportion, about how he wanted to have the solid block V-8 engine invented.

The episodes surrounding it earned Ford the reputation of being obstinate and bull headed. Undoubtedly he could make and maintain his position, independently of situations, advice, outside influences, environment, as long as he wanted to; as long as he was getting the results he wanted. Wouldn’t you expect this from a top-flight CEO?

So, the story goes, he told his engineers he wanted eight cylinders cast into a single metal block. And they said, “It can’t be done.” Ford had a different vision, and he knew what could and could not be done.

He came back at the end of the year and asked the engineers what they had to report, and they reported again that it was an impossible request. They even presented a brief supporting their conclusions. He didn’t even look at it, looked them straight into the eyeballs, and said, “I want it, and I’ll have it. It can be done, figure it out.”

That’s as simple as it is. Wouldn’t seem like any defining act. But it was.

Opinions are cheap… And there’s human feelings involved… But that’s not being obstinate, that’s being a man knowing that it can be done. That he had to cajole and even command employees who didn’t have the same vision he did to follow his instructions would seem normal for an executive of rank.

The high-performance 8-cylinder solid-block engine gave Ford a competitive advantage for many years, and his Mustang Cobra is still one of the toughest American muscle cars ever made.

Do you call sticking to what you know can be accomplished obstinate?


A Man Knowing That It Can Be Done  by Ted Ciuba,

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