Ignorance Is Not Knowing Everything: Henry Ford Model

Knowledge is potential power. Knowing everything is not the key. Henry Ford showed this to everyone back in the time.

Atahan Aslan
5 min readDec 9, 2020
Photo by Lysander Yuen on Unsplash

Napoleon Hill, the author of “Think and Grow Rich” says in his book; “An educated man is not, necessarily, one who has an abundance of general or specialized knowledge. An educated man is one who has so developed the faculties of his mind that he may acquire anything he wants, or its equivalent, without violating the rights of others.” I believe this quote to be very accurate. If you look around, you will see that majority of rich and successful people didn’t attended college, or didn’t finish it, or didn’t even go to a high school. This recalls Henry Ford where the author mentions him in the book.

“You are the master of your destiny. You can influence, direct and control your own environment. You can make your life what you want it to be.”

— Napoleon Hill

It is also important to know that school is not somewhere to be hated. School is where you learn to harness the knowledge and make use of it. Most of the people our times thinks that school brings knowledge, thus success. Not at all. Specialized knowledge, as Napoleon Hill mentioned, is the type of knowledge that you can make use of to earn money or to fulfill your dreams. Another (general) type of knowledge is not a necessity, since you can learn that through any means now because of the age we are living in now.


During the world war, a Chicago newspaper called Henry Ford “an ignorant pacifist.” And Henry Ford objected to this and brought the paper to the court by suing them for labeling him like that because how could you call someone who built one of the biggest car brands in history, ignorant? Does ignorance base upon knowing some information that can be found on the internet? That’s what Henry Ford talked about when he was called to the stand in the court to prove his ignorance by the newspaper’s lawyers.

The way of success is the way of continuous pursuit of knowledge

When he was called to the stands, lawyers asked him a variety of questions to prove that even though he has specialized knowledge about the manufacturing of automobiles, he was, all in all, ignorant. Mr. Ford was asked “Who is Benedict Arnold?”, “How many soldiers did British send to America to put down the rebellion of 1776?” and many more. Mr. Ford couldn’t answer most of the questions. With this, lawyers wanted to prove their point but at some point, Mr. Ford got bored of these questions and said, “If I really want the answer the foolish questions you have asked or any of the other questions you have been asking me, let me remind you that I have a row of electric push-buttons on my desk, and by pushing the right button, I can summon to my aid men who can answer any question I desire to ask concerning the business to which I am devoting most of my efforts. Now, will you kindly tell me why I should clutter up my mind with general knowledge, for the purpose of being able to answer questions, when I have men around me who can supply any knowledge I require?”

Photo by Alex Blăjan on Unsplash

That was not an answer of an ignorant man but rather a man of education. It floored the lawyer and astonished everyone in the court. With Napoleon Hill’s words, “any man is educated who knows where to get knowledge when he needs it, and how to organize that knowledge into definite plans of action.” Mr. Ford had a “Master Mind” group that he got the knowledge from. That is what’s important, knowing how to get the necessary knowledge in times of need, and that’s what made Mr. Ford the richest man in America back then.


We all mistaken general knowledge for specialized knowledge. Why do we need to know a lot of details that we don’t need in any part of our lives? We need to know the information and the knowledge necessary to go on with our business, our dreams, and so on. We can reach to general knowledge any time of the day especially considering the age we are living in right now, it is pretty abnormal to think that one has to know every little detail of our world. That’s what Henry Ford wanted to show to the people as well as Albert Einstein back in the day.

“We refuse to believe that which we don’t understand.”

— Napoleon Hill

Specialized knowledge is about the type of knowledge that you are interested in or do business with which is the necessary thing when it comes to your success. “Ignorant” is a relative word since it can differ from topic to topic or what you mean, to begin with.

Photo by Siora Photography on Unsplash

All in all, ignorance is something that does not happen because of a lack of general knowledge but rather, not being able to use your knowledge in the best of interest for you. Henry Ford was not a school-educated man, he didn’t even go to high school, but his legacy still stands as one of the biggest car manufacturers. However, that newspaper who called him “ignorant” or those lawyers who tried to make him seem like the ignorant is not known by anybody.



Atahan Aslan

A writer who is passionate about startups and business that focuses on informing people about these subjects. Also publishes on decentfinancelife.com