Walt Disney is – arguably – one of the most influential figures of the 20th Century. He certainly ranks high on the list of pop culture icons.
He deserves the title of Hall of Famer many times over, no doubt, but not just for his incredible body of work. Mr. Disney is in life’s Hall of Fame solely because he acts as an inspiration for anyone who’s ever been told “no” or that their dreams are impossible to reach.
At several crucial points in his life, Walt Disney encountered barriers and obstacles that would have defeated a lesser person.
Here are just a few:
- He was told as a teenager that animation was not a worthwhile profession, that his ambitions were silly, and that he would never amount to anything by producing cartoons.
- After ignoring those doubters and starting a successful animation studio in Kansas City, Walt built it up, then struggled as the economy faltered, the business moved to the coasts and he lost clients.
- With just a few dollars in his pocket after closing up his KC shop, Disney took a train to Hollywood, hoping to become an animator at a major studio. Doors were slammed in his face over and over again.
- Walt opened his own Hollywood studio and built it into a profitable firm, but had his most successful character stolen from him and – once again- faced bankruptcy. Undaunted, he simply created another character, Mickey Mouse.
- Mickey saved the Disney Studio, making them millions. Walt could have coasted on that, but he dreamed of making a feature length cartoon. Everyone said he was crazy. Conventional wisdom said that audiences would never pay to see a 90 minute animated movie. Walt followed his instinct. The result, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” changed history.
- After becoming the premiere name in animation and establishing one of the most powerful studios in Hollywood by 1951, Walt had a grand vision. He wanted to build an amusement park unlike any other. His park was going to have a central theme, with many lands to visit. Every bank in town turned him down for a construction loan, his friends backed away, even his wife and brother advised him against moving forward with the project. Nevertheless, Mr. Disney did the opposite, putting himself in deep personal debt to build Disneyland. After it opened in 1955, the world, and his company, would never be the same again.
Not bad for a guy who was told that his ambitions were silly.
If you’d like to lead a Hall of Fame life like good old “Uncle Walt”, then do what he did. Ignore the doubters, let your passion drive you, find your way around obstacles and be an inspiration to others.
You might wind up changing the world, as Mr. Disney did, even if its yor own little corner of it.