The following is an extract from "Notes from a Friend" by Anthony Robbins.
His name is Soichiro Honda: founder of the Honda Corporation, the maker of Honda cars and motorcycles. Mr. Honda never allowed tragedy, problems, challenges, or the twists and turns of circumstances to get in his way. In fact, he often decided to see some of the biggest obstacles in his way as mere hurdles in the race to reach his goals.
In 1938, Mr. Honda was a poor student who had a dream of designing a piston ring that he would sell to any manufacture for Toyota Corporation. Every day he would go to school, and all night long 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.
After years of effort he finally designed the piston ring he was sure Toyota would buy. 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? You bet. Was he broke? Yes. 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:
1. He decided what he wanted.
2. He took action.
3. He noticed whether it was working or not, and when things weren’t working out, 4. He kept changing 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 Japanese Government was gearing up for World War II, so none was available.
Once again, it looked as if 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 build his factory and was finally able to produce his piston rings.
“But wait, there’s more…”
The story doesn’t end here. During the war, the United States bombed his factory, destroying most of it. Instead of feeling defeated, he rallied all his employees. He said, “Quickly! Run outside and watch those planes. What they’ll do is drop their fuel cans out of the sky. We need to find out where they drop them and 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. Mr. Honda found away to use whatever life gave him. Finally, an earthquake leveled 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 new opportunities life presents us…
When the war ended, Japan was in total turmoil. Resources were scarce in all part of the country – gasoline was rationed and, in some cases, nearly impossible to find – and Mr. Honda couldn’t even get enough gas to drive his car to the market to buy food for his family. But instead of feeling defeated or helpless, he made a new decision. He decided he would not settle for this quality of life. He asked himself a very powerful question: “How else can I feed my family? How can I use things I already have to find a way to get there?” He noticed a little motor he had, one that was the size and type to drive a traditional lawn mower, and he got the idea of hooking it up to his bicycle. In that moment, the first motorized bike was created. He drove it to and from the market, and pretty soon his friends were asking him to make some for them, too.
Shortly there after, he’d made so many “motorbikes” that he ran out of motors, so decided to build a new factory to manufacture his own. But he had no money, and Japan was torn apart. How would he do it?
“It is in your moments of decision that your destiny is shaped.” - Anthony Robbins
Instead of giving up and saying, “There’s no way,” he came up with a brilliant idea. He decided to write a letter to every single bicycle – shop owner in Japan, telling them that he thought he had the solution for getting Japan moving again, that his motorbike would be cheap and would help people get what they needed to go. Then he asked them to invest.
Of the 18,000 bicycle – shop owners who received a letter, 3,000 gave Mr. Honda money, and he manufactured his first shipment. And then he was a success, right? Wrong! The motorbike was too big and bulky, and very few Japanese bought it. So once again, he noticed what wasn’t working, and instead of giving up, he changed his approach again. He decided to strip his motorbike down and make it much lighter and smaller. He called it The Cub, and it became an “overnight success,” winning Honda the Emperor’s Award. Everyone looked at him and thought how “lucky” he was to have come up with this idea.
Was he lucky? Maybe, if L.U.C.K. means Labor Under Correct Knowledge. Today, Mr. Honda’s company is one of the most successful in the world. Honda Corporation now employs over 100,000 people and outsells all but Toyota cars in the U.S. – all because Mr. Honda never gave up. He never let problems or circumstances get in his way. He decided that there is always a way to succeed if you’re really committed.