Henry Ford and King Belshazzar of Babylonia lived thousands of years apart, but they both had one thing in common that led to disaster. They couldn’t read the writing on the wall.

During a drunken palace feast, Belshazzar used sacred cups and vessels to propose toasts and sing praises to his pagan Gods.Immediately, a supernatural, floating hand wrote several words on the palace wall. The king’s astronomers and magicians couldn’t decode the strange script, so the king sent for Daniel, an exiled Jew, who recognized the Hebrew script and interpreted the words to mean that God had weighed the king’s transgressions and decreed his dynasty and his days on earth were coming to an end.

That night, Belshazzar was murdered and his kingdom divided.

Henry Ford’s failure to “read the writing on the wall” was figurative rather than literal, but it led to the near-death of the company he founded in 1903, Ford Motor Company.

Ford dominated car sales by churning out million cars a year at a price a working man could afford. Ford’s philosophy was to give public the best value by offering a black box with a few frills – the Model T. By 1918, one of every 2 cars on the road was a Ford. The proud, headstrong Henry Ford thought he and his company were invincible.

But, as the country prospered, consumers started demanding more than a black box. Buyers wanted more colors, more variety, more comfort and more features. Even if they had to pay extra to get them.

Another company called General Motors read the writing on the wall. By late 1920s, GM offered five brands – Cadillac, Pontiac, Buick, Oldsmobile and Chevrolet – in an array of colors and new designs every few years. GM’s sales soared as Ford’s sales slipped.

Henry Ford ignored the writing on the wall, saying that the Model T, basically unchanged in two decades, was fine. He attributed the slip in market share to an incompetent sales force. Frustrated workers tried to persuade Ford to modernize the Model T by surprising him with a sleek, customized version of the “tin Lizzie” upon his return from a vacation. Ford thanked them by kicking in the front windshield and jumping up and down on the roof and hood.  Model T stayed the same.

Ford finally relented when sales of Model T plummeted in 1927, shutting down the main manufacturing plant and sent the workers home. The company that sold 15 million Model Ts was on the brink of bankruptcy.

The expression the writing on the wall refers to ominous signs or megatrends that inevitably lead to misfortune or doom. These signs are so obvious that anyone with average intelligence and a trace of common sense can see them.

Yet, even very smart people like Henry Ford in the 1920s and Ivy League-educated Wall Street bankers in the months and years leading up to the 2008 crash, missed these obvious portents of misfortune.

So why do so many people fail to “read the writing on the wall” ?

One of two Reasons — IGNORANCE or DENIAL

IGNORANCE:  In this day and age, with information available 24/7 at the touch of a mouse, claiming ignorance as an excuse just dosen’t fly anymore. For example, people have always known the dangers of smoking and smokers have always chosen to pretend that inhaling cigarette smoke won’t affect their heart or lungs…until it inevitably does.

DENIAL : Second biggest reason people fail to read the writing on the wall. Denial means “the unwillingness to see or admit a truth that ought to be apparent and is in fact apparent to many others”.  From Start-ups to Mature, powerful corporations have been a victim of Denial.

A lot of business owners, network marketers, highly successful entrepreneurs – may choose to ignore or deny to embrace the internet and change their ways of doing business, especially when it comes to the raw material of generating new customers and leads from internet marketing.

Up until 2 years ago it was not that important. But now at least I can see the writing on the wall, many others have started to see this writing on the wall. I hope you can too!

If you have ever experienced success or failure
by reading the writing on the wall, ever before in your life,
can you please share your story in the comment box below,
and help inspire others?

Best regards,

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