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“Success is 99 percent failure.”- Soichiro Honda
The life of Soichiro Honda is often quoted as an inspiring story of a man who overcame unbelievable obstacles and went on to achieve great success.
The story of Soichiro Honda is an inspirational tale of motivation and persistence in the face of adversity. His story serves as an important lesson for all of us and teaches us not to give up when we suffer a setback. Despite suffering failure, ridicule and endless financial difficulties, Honda believed strongly enough in himself to make his success a reality.
Soichiro Honda was born in 1906 and grew up helping his father repair bicycles in the small town of Komyo, Japan. While Soichiro Honda was in school, he started a workshop with the intention of developing a piston ring, planning to sell on to Toyota. He spent days and nights working away in his workshop believing that he could produce the perfect design. He struggled financially during this period, even selling his wife’s jewelry for capital and occasionally slept in his workshop.
When he finally completed his finished piston ring, Honda took his design to Toyota who told him that his work was not up to their standards. After suffering this terrible setback, Honda was forced to go back to school and was taunted by those around him for failing.
Other engineers laughed at his design but Honda refused to give up despite being ridiculed by them. Honda paid little attention to school work that did not relate to his business and, when verbally attacked by his teacher, Honda responded that ‘A ticket will get you a seat in a movie theater, but a diploma won’t get you a job!’
Honda strongly believed in his idea and refused to give up on his dream. He struggled on for two more years before finally gaining a contract with Toyota. By this time, Japan was gearing up for war and Honda found it hard to find the building materials he needed to create a factory to produce his work. Despite this potentially disastrous setback, he persisted and found a new way of making concrete which allowed him to finish building the factory he needed.
Sadly, this was not the end of Honda’s troubles as the factory he had struggled so hard to build was bombed twice during the war and steel became unavailable. While most people would have given up at this point, Honda persisted and found a way to get past these obstacles. He started collecting gasoline cans which had been discarded by the US fighters to help regenerate his factory, objects he described as ‘gifts from President Truman’.
When Honda started rebuilding his factory, an earthquake destroyed it again. This setback would have spelled the end for most people but Honda still carried on with his dream.
After the war, Honda found a way of attaching a small engine onto his bicycle and quickly found that other people were interested in his strange new idea.
Sadly, the materials Honda needed were not available to supply the demand for his new creation. Rather than giving up, Honda dug deep and sought out a way to get the finance he needed to continue with his project. He wrote an inspiring letter to 18,000 bicycle shop owners which asked them to help him revitalize Japan through innovation.
A huge number of the shop owners he wrote to responded by giving him what little money they could to help him. Honda battled away with several redesigns before finally producing the ‘Super Cub’ which became an overnight success. By 1963, Honda was the top selling brand of motorcycles in the United States.
Honda Corporation now employs more than 100,000 people in the USA and Japan and is now second only to Toyota in Japan. Honda succeeded because of the passion and determination of always being committed to his ideas. Despite suffering more failures and setbacks than most of us would see in a lifetime, Honda always remained persistent and never once allowed himself to give up on his dreams.