Honda Motor Corporation is one of the most successful automakers from Japan. What made Honda a huge success? It was its founder, Soichiro Honda, who took the hardest hits, and still got up and moved forward.
In 1938, when Soichiro was in school, he started a workshop to develop the piston ring that he hoped he could sell to Toyota. He worked seven days a week, even to the extent of sleeping in his workshop at times. Finally, he was able to complete his piston ring and sell it to Toyota. However, he was told that the rings did not meet their standards. Soichiro went back to school for two more years to improve the range of his invention.
He refused to quit. After two more years of struggle and improvement, he successfully won the contract with Toyota. He wanted to build a factory to supply materials to Toyota. Then, the Japanese government was gearing up for war, and the entire supply of concrete material was put into war efforts. This led to scarcity of raw materials to build his factory. Instead of giving up, he invented a new concrete-making process that enabled him to carry on with the work of building the factory. When the factory was completed and started functioning, it was bombed twice by American warplanes. Instead of giving up, he started collecting surplus gasoline cans discarded by U.S. fighters — “Gifts from President Truman”, he called them, which became the new raw materials for his manufacturing process. Again, an earthquake hit and destroyed his factory.
After the war, an extreme gasoline shortage forced people to walk or use bicycles. Soichiro saw this opportunity and built a tiny engine and attached to his bicycle. His neighbours asked him for such bicycles but lack of raw materials and money resisted him from starting another factory to make these ‘motor bikes’.
He still didn’t quit. He wrote letters to 18,000 bicycle shop owners and asked them to pay him in advance so he could re-build his factory to sell them his newly-invented motorbikes. Unfortunately, the first models were too bulky to work well, so he continued to develop and adapt till ‘The Super Cub’ became a success and took Japan by storm. Honda began exporting these bicycle engines to Europe and America.
This was how the Honda Motor Corporation was formed. Was that the end of his problems? Nope! The company continued running into financial problems. It also went near to bankruptcy five times, only to be turned around just in time. Every time he took a hit, Soichiro would just get up, learn from his mistakes and keep moving forward.
Today, the Honda Corporation employs over 100,000 people in the U.S. and Japan, and is one of the world’s largest automobile companies. Honda’s excellent engineering and clever marketing even resulted in its motorcycles outselling Triumph and Harley-Davidson in their respective home markets.
So the greater the success you want in life, the bigger the hits you need to face. There is a price to be paid for everything. And so is the case with success. The price may also be massive rejection, frustration and hard work. People don’t succeed either because they think that success comes easy or they are not willing to pay the price.
Denny Joseph is an International Corporate Trainer, Career Coach and a certified Neuro‐Linguistic Programme (NLP) practitioner. He is the author of Design Your Destiny and Speak With Confidence. He is the founder of Genius Minds Academy (GMA) in Bangalore and co-founder of Nexus Training International in Singapore.