Henry Ford lived from 1863 to 1947, and helped establish Ford Motor Company in 1903. He is credited with popularizing the assembly line technique of mass production, and when he introduced the mass-produced, inexpensive Model T in October of 1908, the world would never be the same.

But while Ford is recognized as one of the great businessmen in U.S. history, he was also known for possessing a wealth of general wisdom and many of his quotes have gone down in history as timeless observations human nature. The other day I found myself enjoying pondering a bunch of them.

Doug Davison

Doug Davison

•“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at 20 or 80. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.”

Here’s my quote in response to that: I’m glad that I would find it disappointing (and boring) if I lived a day without learning something new and interesting and worthwhile. The worthwhile part is crucial – there is much information these days that gets you nowhere.

•“I believe God is managing affairs and that He doesn’t need any advice from me. With God in charge, I believe everything will work out for the best in the end. So what is there to worry about?”

There’s not much evidence in today’s world that God is in charge – not in government, societal trends or most peoples’ words or actions. The good news is, that’s exactly how the Lord planned it.

•“Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, you’re right.”

What was it “The Little Train that Could” kept repeating? I think I can, I think I can…

•“Well done is better than well said.”

Actions have always spoken better than words, and lip service is cheaper now than ever. I think that’s especially true among American politicians in major positions. Maybe I’m exaggerating a bit, but it sure seems like they do a lot more talking than doing.

•“When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.”

Translation: Always taking the easy route is a sure way to not get anywhere. Going against the flow can lead to taking flight.

•“The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.”

Of course, there’s that old saying: The definition of insanity is making the same mistake over and over and expecting different results. Too bad history so often repeats itself in negative ways. Insanity is apparently often preferred over the alternative.

•“Most people spend more time and energy going around problems than in trying to solve them.”

Today’s reworked version: Man, it’s too much trouble for me to solve my problems. Besides, I’m entitled to have you do that for me.

•“When people are ‘stung’ in false investment schemes there are three causes: Greed of something for nothing, sheer inability to know their mind, or infantile trustfulness.”

All it takes to avoid being “stung” is to remember if something sounds too good to be true, it almost always is. Unfortunately, Ford’s reasons here all too often trump good old common sense.

•“It has been my observation that most people get ahead during the time that others waste.”

I personally don’t believe a man has to be a workaholic to understand or employ that notion.

•“The short successes that can be gained in a brief time and without difficulty, are not worth much.”

So perhaps instant gratification isn’t as valuable as it’s perceived to be nowadays.

•“The whole secret of a successful life is to find out what is one’s destiny to do, and then do it.”

It’s not possible to find that out by expecting someone else to do it. Nobody is entitled to a successful destiny.

•“Any man who thinks he can be happy and prosperous by letting the government take care of him better take a closer look at the American Indian.”

Here’s to hoping that by letting the government become more and more powerful as is the case year by year, we’re not walking our own figurative Trail of Tears in the process.

•“There is no man living who isn’t capable of doing more than he thinks he can do.”

But I’m pretty sure there are a lot of men (and women) living who don’t think about doing anything.

Doug Davison is a writer, photographer and newsroom assistant for the Houston Herald.  Email: ddavison@houstonherald.com.

Henry Ford in 1919.

Henry Ford in 1919.