More power than will

Engineers said it couldn't be done, but that didn't stop Henry Ford. Photo by IFCAR, public doman via Wikimedia Commons

Engineers said it couldn’t be done, but that didn’t stop Henry Ford.
Photo by IFCAR, public doman via Wikimedia Commons

“We have more power than will; and it is often by way of excuse to ourselves that we fancy things are impossible.” – Francois VI, Duc De la Rochefoucauld

“I am looking for a lot of men who have an infinite capacity to not know what can’t be done.”Henry Ford

“Ford decided to produce his now famous V-8 motor. He chose to build an engine with the entire eight cylinders cast in one block, and instructed his engineers to produce a design for the engine. The design was placed on paper, but the engineers agreed, to a man, that it was simply impossible to cast an eight-cylinder engine-block in one piece.  Ford replied,”Produce it anyway.”Napoleon Hill

Years ago, one of many doctors who evaluated Matt chose a dynamic assessment tool intended to measure not only what he was able to do, but what his potential for learning might be if given mediated instruction.  When she met to discus the results with us, she gave us some wise advice.  “Remove the word ‘can’t’ from your vocabulary and replace it with the phrase ‘has not yet learned to,’ especially when you are speaking where Matt can hear you.”

I think that’s good advice for almost any of us.  While there are things that are truly impossible for us, we are seldom asked or expected to do them. Far more often, we limit our own accomplishments by underestimating our capabilities, or being unwilling to do what it takes to surpass what we are currently able to achieve.  More than one historian has portrayed Ford’s legendary determination as sometimes crossing the line into ruthlessness.  Nevertheless, he changed history because of his refusal to believe conventional wisdom regarding what was possible.

It’s often hard to know where to focus our efforts for optimal results, but I agree with Rochefoucauld that we tend to excuse ourselves from doing what is difficult by using the word “can’t” instead of “won’t.”  Is there anything you need and want to do that you are dodging by saying “I can’t?”  Are there things you’d like to do that you haven’t tried, for fear of failure?

One year ago today:

Estimating our limits

This post was first published seven years ago today. The original post, comments and photo are linked, along with two other related posts, below. These links to related posts, and their thumbnail photos, do not appear in the blog feed; they are only visible when viewing the individual posts by clicking on each one. I have no idea why, nor do I know how they choose the related posts. That’s just the way WordPress does things.

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