How Edison Encouraged Ford to “Keep at it!”

Starting anything from scratch is tough – thinking through the plan, gathering supplies, resources, and help. Then assembly and experimentation, only to be met with failure and new, unforeseen obstacles. That’s why it’s important to have some VEP’s in your life. A VEP is a very encouraging person.

EdisonFord27hand In 1891 Henry Ford had a dream burning inside – building a simple, reliable, and reproducible “horseless wagon.” There were many naysayers. Playing around with machines in a rural, farming age was a waste of time to many, a distraction from real, hard work. Henry’s father, William, a successful farmer, pressed his son to follow in his footsteps and take over the family operation. Ford later wrote, “I never had any particular love for the farm – it was the mother on the farm I loved.”

Fortunate for Henry, in 1888, he married Clara Bryant and she became a life long believer. In 1893, Henry began spending every spare moment building his first engine behind their Detroit house, in a little shed. All the way through Clara was indefatigable in her support.

Finally, three years later, on June 4, 1896, Ford test drove his first self-propelled vehicle. It was a success, but the test drive revealed many problems and needed improvements. Though he didn’t talk about it much, there were times he wondered if he was making a mistake, going in the wrong direction, wasting time and effort.

It was during such a time he met the famous inventor – Thomas Edison. Edison asked many questions and Ford answered, drawing pictures to convey his dream. To everyone’s surprise Edison pounded the table so hard it shook the tableware, and exclaimed, “Young man, that’s the thing. You have it! Keep at it!”

Years later Ford would look back on that moment saying, “That bang on the table meant the world to me.” Encouragement from the great inventor gave him an extra push, and it was the start of a life long friendship (See pic).

The word discourage comes from two words – “dis” and “courage.” When we speak words of discouragement we literally take away the courage from another. It is better to encourage. To encourage is to put courage back in.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 says, “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up.”

Ephesians 4:29 says, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”

Make up your mind today. Be a VEP – a very encouraging person.

(Resources – “I Invented the Modern Age” by Richard Snow, and