Would it have been unethical and uninspiring for Kearns to take Ford’s $30 million settlement offer, for the sake of his family’s emotional and mental health? (Heck, even financial wellness—he had six kids and both spouses were teachers!) Absolutely not. I think his family and community would have empathized. Was his wife and children too selfish to understand? Not at all. As you watch the film, you’ll notice he seemed to have more of a desire for individual greatness, than even familial legacy. There was room for both, but his Success Scale was uneven. (Hit the 100 limit again!)
Speaking of balance, would communicating to his family that his work-life distribution would be dramatically skewed have made a difference? Most definitely. It would have opened the floor to proactive dialogue, versus reactionary complaints of him being just an engineer and not a husband nor father. Interestingly enough, he involved his entirely family in the invention process, from prototype to patent. Those scenes were warm with love. His passion for engineering brought his family together, but it also drove them away (at least for 12 years). I think it was because his passion morphed into something a bit more self-centered than family-oriented. I believe when you become a spouse and parent, the priorities change (says the bachelor who is trying to sum up complex issues in 100 words). Nothing is wrong with the relentless grind. But when that grind starts to negatively impact the ones you love (not the naysayers or those insecure relatives who jealously doubt you, but those you are actually in your corner and would die with you for your cause)—once your grind alienates you from your core support, it’s time to reevaluate what’s actually going on. Isolation from everyone as a husband, wife, father, mother is not impossible—but you better be very sure that this is what should be happening. And such isolation for the relentless grind is probably just adapted to your new lifestyle as a mate and guardian. But then again, what about those enlisted in the marines, army, navy, air force, etc.? Hm..