6 minute readFAILURE STORIES

FAILURE STORIES. EP. 01 MR. HONDA

FAILURE STORIES. EP. 01 MR. HONDA

Many people dream of success. I believe that success can be achieved only through repeated failure and self-analysis. Success is only one percent of your work, and the rest – bold overcoming of obstacles. If you are not afraid of them, success will come to you itself - Soichiro Honda

Mr. Soichiro Honda is a founder of the Honda Motor Co. Honda Corporation, like many other, no matter how large, was built on top of passion, persistence and desire to produce a remarkable result, but this is not a story of success. This is a story of repeated failure.

 

Piston Rings

Mr. Honda took everything he owned and began to develop his concept of a piston ring. Literally living in his workshop, working day and night, sleeping in the machine shop. He was convinced that he can produce the desired result. Honda even pawned his wife's jewels to stay in business. At that time, he was racing in Japanese high-speed rallies and almost died in his last race. Honda crashed into a different car at the finish line. Leaving his left arm fractured, his shoulder dislocated and his face damaged. He spent three months at a hospital. The road to the sport was closed forever for him. While still being in hospital he received an answer from the Toyota Corporation about his newly finished piston rings. Unfortunately, out of 30,000 rings he delivered to Toyota only 3 passed the quality test and he didn’t receive any contract.

 

Going back to school

He was so determined that after this, he was even able to changed his attitude toward education and went back to school for two more years. He didn’t change his goal, he only changed his approach. After going back to school, he heard the mocking laughter of his instructors and other students. Everybody saw his as a total failure. But that’s not how he saw himself.

 

The contract

He didn’t focus on the pain of that failure and decided to continue to focus on his vision. Finally, after two more years, Toyota granted him the contract he had dreamed of. Thanks to his passion and persistence he took the necessary actions and was able adjust his approach very quickly.  His belief and stubbornness was paid off but the closer he was getting the harder it was getting. Now there was even a bigger problem.

 

The war

Due to national preparation for the war the Japanese government refused to give him the concrete that was needed to build his factory. This seem like something that would make everybody quit, but not Mr. Honda. He didn’t quit there. He didn’t give up. He didn’t cry about it. For most of us this would mean that our dreams are crushed but absolutely not for him.

 

Bombs and earthquakes

Taking everything he could out of such situation Mr. Honda and his team build the factory thanks to their own inventions and resourcefulness. Unfortunately, the factory was bombarded twice during the war and after that destroyed even more by an earthquake. Honda assumed that the country is entering into a period of poverty and decided to sell his piston operation to Toyota. How many of us would have quit right there? But Mr. Honda was different. He was determined to succeed. He made all the necessary decisions, had the right strategy, took massive actions, had passion and belief in his vision, kept changing his approach but still couldn’t get the outcome he was after. But he didn’t give up.

 

Bicycle

After the war, due gasoline shortage in Japan Mr. Honda couldn't even drive his car to get food for his family. Again, he did what he was best at. He used the resources he had around him. Attaching a small motor to his bicycle and using a fir oil that was very popular in the countryside of Japan in those times. This newly developed bike became very trendy along his neighbors and quickly he ran out of motors. He wanted to build a factory but he didn't have the necessary capital.

 

“Overnight success”

Do you think this could stop him? Of course, not. He was determined to follow through with his vision. By sending a personal letter to the 18,000 bicycle shop owners in Japan he had raised the capital he needed. This makes his kind of a present-day pioneer of crowd founding. It took him another few years and quite a few major changes but his motorbike called "The Super Cub" became an "overnight" success in the eyes of the public. This even earning him the Emperor's award. By 1958, when “Super Cub” model came to the U.S., Honda was already the largest Japanese manufacturer of motorcycles.

 

Trials and errors

Honda succeeded because he understood the power of a truly committed decision and acted upon the conditions he was presented to. His secret lies in the fact that he was guided by his trials and errors, and was always ready to fail. In Mr. Honda’s eyes one of the essential quality of a great businessman, is the ability to take risks. He did not admit defeat and was willing to risk everything for his beliefs and ideas, in order to achieve a goal. All his life Mr. Honda was fighting with adversities, disadvantages, traditional thinking and principals. Later in life he said: “Looking back on my work, I feel that I was doing nothing more than mistakes, blunders and serious omissions. But I am proud of the achievements. Although I did one mistake after another, my mistakes and failures never occurred to the same reasons”.

 

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FAILURE STORIES. EP. 01 MR. HONDA