Lessons Learned From The Life of Gerald R. Ford

While on a visit to Grand Rapids, Michigan, I dropped into the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum.

I’m old enough to have lived through the Ford Presidency.  Many of you are not.

Here’s some things I learned or were reminded about:

Ford was born to a family where he was quickly deserted by his father. His mother eventually remarried to a man who adopted him and gave him his name.

A deserted, fatherless child can become president.

Ford’s adopted father opened a business right before the Great Depression.

Like many of that time, they lost all they had and it was necessary to start over. Ford’s dad responded to the challenge by simply stating “we will just have to work harder to make up for what we lost”. Reminds us that failure isn’t fatal.

Ford became All-American football center at the University of Michigan.

Those were the days before professional football was a viable career. He rode his football prowess to Yale where he became a part-time coach. After two years there coaching, he persuaded the Dean of the Yale law school to try out as a probationary student, though his academic record did not predict he would succeed. He successfully completed those classes and finished in the top third of his class. Proves you can determine to overcome your record with hard work. Who you have been doesn’t necessarily determine who you might become.

Ford succeeded Richard Nixon after Nixon resigned in the wake of the famous Watergate scandal. He had become Vice President only after being selected to replace Spiro Agnew, who also resigned in disgrace after being convicted of fraud. Ford is credited with returning dignity and decorum to the office of the president. His efforts began the healing process for a nation sorely in need of healing. Proves that integrity is always welcome and always works.

As a Boy Scout, an All-American and an overachieving student, Ford learned to value the positive traits in others. He said when you focus on the “positives” you are rarely disappointed. Ford used as an operating philosophy this concept: “I will expect more from myself than I will from others.”

It reminds us that we control best our effort, our attitude and our response. If we hold ourselves to high standards, results will follow.