This is the story of Mr Honda. An incredible story of fortitude & persistence but above all, eternal belief.
A man whose name should be the byword for Never Ever Give Up.
Here we go…
Soichiro Honda was a poor student in 1938. But he had a dream of designing a piston ring he would manufacture & sell to Toyota.
Every day he’d go to school, and at night he would work on his design, up to his elbows in grease. He spent what little money he had on his project, and it still wasn’t finished.
Finally he hocked his wife’s jewelry to continue (not a popular move I’d imagine)
After years of effort he finally designed the piston ring he was sure Toyota would buy. But when he took it to them, they rejected it.
He was sent back to school to suffer the humiliation of his teachers and friends telling him what an idiot he was for designing such a ridiculous gadget.
Was he frustrated? Who wouldn’t be?
Was he broke? For sure!
Did he give up? No way.
Instead he spent the next two years continuing to find ways to make the piston ring better. He had the key formula to success:
- He knew what he wanted
- He took action
- He adapted until he found something that worked.
He noticed whether it was working or not, and when things weren’t working out he changed his approach. He was flexible in the way he went about things.
Finally after two more years, he refined his design and Toyota actually bought it!
In order to build his piston factory, Mr Honda needed concrete , but the Japanese Govt was gearing up for WW2, so none was available.
Once again, it looked like his dream would die. It seemed no-one would help him.
Again, did he quit? Absolutely not.
He had decided to build this factory. Since giving up was not an option, he got together a group of his friends and for weeks they worked around the clock trying different approaches until they found a new way to manufacture concrete.
He built his factory and was finally able to produce his piston rings.
But wait! It doesn’t end there. During the war the USA bombed his factory, destroying most of it. Instead of feeling defeated, he rallied all his employees.
‘Run quickly!’ he told them, run outside and watch those planes, what they’ll do is drop their fuel cans out of the sky.
We need to get those cans because they contain the raw materials we need for our manufacturing process!
These were materials they couldn’t get anywhere in Japan. But Mr Honda found a way to use whatever life gave him. Finally an earthquake levelled his factory, and he was forced to sell his piston operation to Toyota.
But God never closes a door without opening another one, so we need to stay alert to see whatever opportunities life presents…
When the war ended, Japan was in complete turmoil, resources were scarce in all parts of the country. Gasoline was rationed in and in some cases, nearly impossible to find – Mr Honda was struggling to get enough gas to get food for his family.
But instead of feeling deflated, or helpless, he made a decision.
He decided he would not settle for this quality of life. He asked himself:
How else can I feed my family?
How can I use things I already have to get there…
He noticed a little motor that he had, one that was the size & type to drive a lawnmower, and he got the idea to hook it up to his bicycle.
In that moment the first motorized bike was created. He rode it to and from the market and pretty soon his friends were asking him to make some for them too.
Shortly after, he made so many motorbikes that he decided to build a new factory to make his own.
But he had no money & Japan was on its knees. How would he do it?
Instead of giving up & saying ‘there’s no way’ he came up with a brilliant idea. He decided to write to every bicycle shop owner in Japan, telling them he had that he thought he had the solution for getting Japan moving again, that his motorbike would be cheap and would help people get to where they need to go.
Then he asked them to invest.
Of the 18,000 shop owners who got his letter, 3,000 gave enough money to manufacture his first shipment.
Then he was a success right?
The motorbike was too heavy, big and bulky. Very few Japanese bought it. So he changed his approach yet again. He stripped his bike down and made it much lighter and smaller.
He called it the Cub and it became an overnight success, earning Honda the Emperors Award. Everyone looked up at him and thought how lucky he was to have the idea.
Today as you know, Mr Honda’s company is one of the most successful in the world – all because Soichero Honda
Never gave up…
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