“Defiantly narrow-minded, barely educated, and functionally illiterate,” were the words used by Bill Bryson, author of One Summer to describe Henry Ford, founder of Ford Motors.
He was nicknamed “ignoramus” by the Chicago Tribune. Yet, he built Ford Motors, which is one of the world’s largest automobile manufacturers. What’s the recipe of his success if he wasn’t “educated”?
He figured out that the key was to ask the right question and not depending on his own knowledge.
I remember my first attempt at starting a YouTube channel. It started with energy and enthusiasm that went… nowhere. I remember sitting at the table, brainstorming ideas for videos. I got all excited then left confused when it was time to actually film it. When I finally got the footage, my brain hurt from trying to learn editing software. I didn’t even last one month on my quest to become the next PewDiePie because there were so many things to do and so little time.
Why wasn’t my learning producing results?
I was asking the wrong question.
I was asking how I can be a YouTuber who can generate ideas, shoot from hundreds of different angles, edit my way to Oscar worthy cinematography.
Contrast this with my second time starting a YouTube channel. This time, I had a partner. A 6 hour slog turned into 30 minutes. We smiled and laughed in the video production process, something that previously had only caused me frustration and furrowed brows. We got off to a good start. But only a good start because we stopped after a few weeks since nobody watched it. In my defense, her editing skills weren’t as advertised.
From that experiment, I realized I should have asked a better question: “Who has the right skillset to compliment mine?”
Learning is too time consuming if you want to make progress in your projects. Learning encourages a Do-It-Yourself mentality. We ignore the fact that there are people who already spent countless hours learning what we just started. Trying to learn everything by yourself will make learning burdensome and will lead to procrastination.
Actually, we already have the default mindset of asking who not how. When your water pipe is broken, you immediately call the plumber to fix it. In that simple example, you don’t think of learning to fix the pipe but you will immediately call an expert to do it. Why is it that when we try to fix something important, we want to rely on ourselves?
Apply that same thinking every time you’re about to tackle something outside your domain. Asking the right questions will lead you to the right answers. Steer away from asking “How can I do this?” to “Who can do this?”. When you get the who, the how takes care of itself. Your solution is just one “who” away.
Solving the problem or achieving the goal is better than learning. Don’t try to learn if it messes with progress. The most valuable skill is the ability to recognize whether it’s better to learn it ourselves or to outsource the solution. Outsourcing is the cheat code of life. Forget what you were taught at school that working with others is cheating.
Collaboration is a necessity because it’s a leverage that’s using other people’s time, money, effort, and experience to make your life easy. Once you get this, you’ll get why Henry Ford was able to build an automobile empire despite his “ignorance”.
Henry Ford was successful because he hired the right people to do it. He was famous for attracting top talent by increasing wages and reducing working hours. He was right in asking who not how. He wasn’t concerned about storing up facts or being knowledgeable, and that priority made him successful.
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