Sunday, September 27, 2009

Industrial Strength Leadership

The industrial revolution was a transformational time in American history. Without question, the technologies of the twenty first century have dramatically improved upon the inventions that the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries gave us.

Can you imagine the look on the face of Alexander Graham Bell if he were to hold an i-phone today? Imagine the Wright brothers flying first class on a Boeing 777? I can only imagine what Samuel F.B. Morse would think of the internet, email, and instant messaging.

Henry Ford is an example of perseverance during the industrial age. Although he faced numerous setbacks in his career, he forged ahead with the vision of car that would revolutionize transportation. He raised $28,000 in capital from friends and family, and on June 16, 1903, the Ford Motor Company was born. Ford began producing the Model A, an eight-horsepower two-cylinder automobile. In the first year 1,708 cars were rolled out.

The early industrialists possessed a leadership quality that revolutionized America and the world. We owe much to their creative spirit and in our age of challenges and ever-advancing knowledge, we can still learn from them.

The industrial leaders teach us the marvel of inspiration. Henry Ford said, “One of the greatest discoveries man makes, one of his great surprises, is to find he can do what he was afraid he couldn’t do. Most of the bars we beat against are in ourselves- we put them there, and we can take them down.” Usually the most difficult barriers we overcome are the ones that we impose on ourselves. When unburdened by self-imposed barriers of creativity, dreams can come alive.

Industrial leaders teach us the power of imagination. The imagination of the early industrialists gave us the power of communication, transportation, and productivity. The power of imagination coupled with determination drastically improved the lives of countless millions over the years. George Bernard Shaw had it right when he said, “Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine and at last you create what you will.”

Industrial leaders teach us the payoff of tenacity. Before the first Model A rolled off the line, Ford knew what setbacks felt like. All of these men did. Thomas Edison said, “If I find 10,000 ways something doesn’t work, I haven’t failed. I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward.” Failure was no stranger to these men, but it would not break them. We are inspired today because of the tenacity of these men and our lives are richer for it.

Industrial leaders teach us the rewards of risks. Risk was a way of life for the industrial leaders. Their lives are testaments to the power of risk and reward. Setbacks and failure paved the road to their ultimate successes. Without risk though; how long before the automobile, the telephone, the airplane, the first steam engine? “The greater danger for most of us,” said Michelangelo, “is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we hit it.” Risk is the down payment today for success tomorrow.

Industrial leadership is a call to lead with innovation that is driven by the power of new dreams, visions, and the wonder of things previously thought impossible. German philosopher and philologist Friedrich Nietzsche wrote in 1881, “I fly in dreams, I know it is my privilege, I do not recall a single situation in dreams when I was unable to fly.”

Nietzsche had dreams of flying while living in Germany twenty-two years prior and a continent away before it became a reality in Kitty Hawk, N.C. in 1903. The dreams of today become the realities of tomorrow when one dares to embrace the challenge and live the dream.

Henry Ford said, “You can do anything if you have enthusiasm. Enthusiasm is the yeast that makes your hopes rise to the stars. With it, there is accomplishment. Without it there are only alibis.”

Unleash your inspiration and imagination to do the impossible. The time is now for a leadership revolution. The time is now to chase your dream.

© 2009 Doug Dickerson

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