He was a go-getter who did not know where he was getting to, only that he would get somewhere.
Walt Disney did not know how to give up. It wasn’t that he refused to, it was that he honestly did not have the capacity to quit. The concept eluded him. No matter what obstacles he faced or what troubles plagued him, Walt Disney moved forward. As Neal Gabler says in his book, Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination, Disney was the ultimate “go-getter”. He might not have known where he was headed when he first began, but he knew he was going somewhere…he just had to keep moving forward.
Walt Disney seldom dabbled. Everyone who knew him remarked on his intensity; when something intrigued him, he focused himself entirely as if it were the only thing that mattered.
Walt Disney poured his heart and soul into everything he did and in doing so presents a timeless lesson: if you do not love what you’ve chosen to do with your life, your heart won’t be in it, and you will be guilty of simply dabbling. This dabbling will hinder your capacity for success and lead you to an unfulfilled life. So, take a page from the Disney workbook and devote yourself to your craft. You might just create the next Disney Company.
Throughout the failures…throughout the days without meals and nights with restless sleep, throughout the constant begging for funds…throughout it all Walt Disney seemed never to lose faith…He seemed confident beyond any logical reason for him to be so. It appeared that nothing could discourage him.
As Neal Gabler paints this inspiring word picture of Walt Disney, I believe that Disney is best depicted in his own legendary words: “Around here, however, we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we’re curious…and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” Through his years, Disney is credited with having said many moving things, but, to me, this ideology is the essence of Walt Disney. He internalized this philosophy and made it the forefront of all of his pursuits. No matter what was placed in front of him, he knew that somehow, he would get through it. He knew that he could beat the odds and go the distance, if he could just keep moving forward.
There is no way to replace Walt Disney. He was an extraordinary man. Perhaps there will never be another like him.
The life of Walt Disney is summed up perfectly in these words, spoken by his brother Roy, at Walt’s funeral. Walt Disney gave the American people hope, proved that perseverance can take you anywhere, and that with just a little bit of magic, you can change the world. Walt Disney made the world a better place in more ways than could ever really be put into words, but this enhancement of the world around him is further solidified in the lasting legacy he left behind. As Disney neared the end of his life, as he would succumb to the cancer ravaging his lungs, there was not a single person ready to accept that this man would cease to exist on this earth…not even Walt Disney himself. All Walt could think about in his last days was his legacy. He was such a visionary and so dedicated to his life’s passion and work that he feared what would happen once he was gone. He thought everything that he had done would fall to pieces. He wasn’t ready to die because he wasn’t half-finished with what he had begun.
It was devastating to read how torn up he was about this while lying in his hospital bed. He would never see what became of his company; never know the true impact he had on so many people; he would never see his dreams fulfilled in the form of Walt Disney World. But, that simply can’t be true. He must know how wonderful a world he made in Disneyland and beyond; allowing all who need it, an escape from reality.
Walt Disney impacted the world from the moment he doodled that black and white mouse for the first time on a sheet of paper. Though he might not have been ready to go, he unknowingly ensured that his work, his company, and his impact would live on for years to come. He so inspired his own world that those closest to him wanted the Disney Company to succeed, perhaps just as much as Walt did. His legacy is still strong today, and presents itself in so many forms within that wonderful world of all that is Disney.
I only hope that we never lose sight of one thing…that it all started with a mouse.
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