On my best days I think of Walt and on my worst days I think of Walt. On the days things are not going well, it becomes easy to start berating myself and telling myself of all the things I have not done well. Things I should have done better. Things I should not have missed that might have been obvious. The fact that I am so hard working in the face of those failures and the fact that I always come back to what I feel I failed at, to make it better or make it work, somehow seems to evade me in those moments of self pity and self destruction. We've all been here and all felt this way at one time or another. I think that the magic of what Walt did with his life and his creativity is a lesson for us all.
I sometimes wonder about the value of those failure moments and have come to the conclusion many times, that they not only have value, but are a healthy part of becoming the best version of yourself and the best version of your creativity. When I find myself there at that low rung, doing all that berating, is when Walt comes to mind. While I am not the creative genius he was and would never profess to come close, I do have a lot in common with him and how he did and accomplished so many great things. While my greatness is still waiting to be realized, knowing that I have some of those same tracks of thought, gives me great hope of accomplishing great things and I cannot help but think that there are many others who can benefit from this re-framing of what failure and success really are.
So here are some lessons I learned from Walt's experience that keep me going and turns it around for me...
Feeling that the bottom is the end point
It is easy to be overwhelmed by failure. Sometimes it gets so thick while you are working, that you cannot see the goal anymore and don't know which direction you are going. That moment you reach where the longer you work at something, the harder you hit bottom because you get lost and then panicked because you feel that loss of direction and creativity. There are only 2 ways to go when you hit bottom. One is to crawl along and stay there and the other is to find that way out and back up again. To use that bottoming out. To know that sometimes the answer is at the bottom and you have to get there first to find that answer and come back up again. From what I know of Walt's history, he hit bottom many more times than 1. He had people stealing things from him, striking against him, critiquing his work in cruel ways at the beginning, taking his office from him. He went through it all. I did too. He suffered many times but the amazing thing about Walt and one of the things I think of often is that he would pick himself up and find a way to get through it to something else that would work.
People say that having a tough parent is a terrible thing and in many cases it is. It hurts when your parent is hard on you and not always there for you, but in some ways, those of us who are driven and resilient get that way because we were not given everything and had to come up with our own ideas to move forward. Sometimes the best ideas come from those who are steeled and tough and creativity was the way they got things done. Walt had a tough dad. One that required work and accomplishment. It might not have been comfortable, but I'm fairly certain that in the times when he was down or being pursued by those who were out to try and take from him or hurt him, he relied upon the resolve he learned naturally to keep moving forward despite how someone treated him or if it made him feel bad. That training as a young kid might seem like a bad thing or non-compassionate and it does have it's down side, but the success that comes from it in holding oneself up to high standards is clear when you see his work. We may not all have had a dad like Disney's dad as all people and parents are different, but if you are someone like me who had a dad who pushed excellence and wanted the work and the toughness to be developed, and you look back on that with any anger or resentment or sadness, you should do as I have and turn it around. That training has made you strong. That training has taught you to look for other ways if something doesn't work. That training gave you the tools to deal with people who try to do anything like it to you now. When you see how much Walt did and how far he fell before getting it done, it is truly inspiring to know that and to understand that when you hit bottom, that you can and will come back from it.
Think of it this way, it takes an awful lot of time of grinding and grinding to create the perfect diamond. People are no different. Not getting too deep in self-pity and embracing the trip down and the lessons learned makes you come back stronger and better and more finely tuned. Like I said, on my best days I think of Walt and on my worst days I think of Walt.
Having someone steal your idea and run with it and do well Have you ever had someone steal a creative idea from you? I have. In fact I worked so hard and for so many years on something and copyrighted it but it still got stolen by a terrible person who went on to make millions off of it. He used my exact words. Could I have sued? You bet. He was in bed with a huge NY publishing company that threatened to take everything from me if I pursued it so I turned tail and ran. Maybe a bad idea, maybe a good one. Not sure, but I know one thing and that is each and every time I hear about or read about what happened to Walt with his Oswald character, I feel it personally. When my family watched the Walt Disney biography, and they talked about that, I cried through that whole part.
What I tried to take with me as the most important takeaway from that horrid episode in his life and mine, is that he may have lost Oswald and went through a bad experience, but from that loss, Mickey was born and he learned something about protecting himself better.
I lost my book and my program that was stolen. It caused me complete financial ruin and took everything I had worked for from me and from my family. It was horrible and hard, but looking back, if it were not for our fall from grace like that, I would not be sitting here living near Orlando and at Walt's place almost every day. That fall from grace not only brought our lives here, but also gave me the idea for this wonderful website I work on daily and a new way to package the help and pixie dust I can give to other families. A much better way. So in essence, my story is the same as Walt's and I think about it all the time. The thing that got stolen from me might have benefited someone else, but if it would not have been stolen, I would not have all the bounty I have now.
Loss is hard, but it almost always brings new gain in some way.
Being childish and acting too young for your age In the biography we saw about Walt, they talked about his child like qualities in what he was trying to do. Always coming up with creative things in multiples and not really paying attention to the adult world of concerns around it. Creativity is not the outcome of the adult world. You cannot force yourself to be creative in a structured way or on demand. It comes from inside and it is unharnessed and wild and an instant flash. Sometimes I think if people are too wrapped up in the adult world, they make creativity go away. Walt Disney knew this intuitively. He was good at being inside himself in that child like place and being able to reach in and pull out the way he saw things in front of him. If you notice, the Disney stories are not originals. Many of them come from Grimm's Fairy Tales. He did not try to recreate the wheel. He just dug down inside and put a new face and frame on some stories that were somewhat dark and he took the childlike quality he had and sprinkled it into these stories to make them something that millions would be endeared to and love forever. Stories with morals and messages that touch us all. That change our lives.
Out of the mouths of babes is one of my favorite quotes and it fits here. Children have the ability to see through things in an unfiltered way. They do not have the noise of the adult world spinning around their heads and can get to things fairly quickly because of that. Walt Disney had that quality. No I am not calling him childish or his work childish. I just feel that the more we can pull from our own magical child like roots and stop the adult world noise, the more creative we can be as well. There is a quote in one of my favorite movies "13 Going on 30" and it is as follows, "I think all of us want to feel something that we've forgotten or turned our backs on because maybe we didn't realize how much we were leaving behind. We need to remember what used to be good. If we don't, we won't recognize it even if it hits us between the eyes." I think Walt never lost sight of that and lived his life and all his dreams through that perspective and gave us all that ability to go to his parks and his world and re-live what was and is good.
People often ask me how I can go to Disney so much and not get sick of it. As someone who lives inside of being that child all the time and never lets the adult noise drown it out and as someone who is able to communicate with children for so many years as a Child Psychologist, knowing that remaining connected with that child inside yourself is imperative and will allow happiness to stay and creativity to flow, I find myself thinking of Walt and feeling very thankful and happy to be that forever child along with him, who will not grow up and will keep pulling from what used to be good and for me, still is.
Working at an idea around the clock to get it right and perfect, but trying not to hurt yourself in the process Creativity for some of us comes in bursts and you cannot walk away from it or it fades. You cannot schedule it. You cannot reignite it. You have to take the gift and run with it when it hits you. Many times it comes with not paying attention to the basic things that keep you healthy. If there is one thing that makes me sad, it is that all those stresses that kept coming at Walt as he kept trying to bounce back and became successful in spite of them, also destroyed his health at too young of an age. I think about how every video showed him smoking and I am certain his smoking was a stress reaction and kept him calmed down enough to keep working on all the creativity that was bursting out of him. Sadly, that same habit took him before he got to see anything that got developed in his Florida project. I know how it feels to have a lot of creativity, a lot of drive and to be hampered by things around you that stop it from moving forward. With his level of drive and ambition, to be stopped, was to be as frustrated as you could be. When I am stopped and looking for things to keep moving forward, I try to temper my drive and make sure I am taking care of myself in the process. I wish he would have been able to see his ultimate project come to fruition, although it might have made our experience of Disney World quite different. It is sad to think that his stress consumed him too early. I think of that often while I work hard, knowing that my taking care of myself through the stress will help my ideas to keep coming for a long time to come.
Have you seen Meet the Robinsons? This ending gives me chills every time. I won't do any spoilers here, but if you love all things Disney, you need to see it and watch til the end. You have felt hypersensitive to those who are your critics, are jealous of you, or who want to steal from you, or you are your own worst critic. When you are going to a creative place that is on the edge and thinking maybe it is stupid or not main stream and you are unconfident, this section is important to you.
This is the old adage, "dare to be different". Not so easy for some of us. There are 2 certainties in life. One is that there will always be others who are critical. Not everyone will like your work or your ideas. Two, that if someone is jealous of you or unhappy with themselves, they will try to knock you down. The was no shortage of this in Disney's life as he tried to make his creative dreams a reality.
As a person who responds too quickly and too intensely to criticism of my work and always have, the lesson I take from Walt is not to let anyone stop your work, your creativity and your spark. If someone tries to shame you or make you feel that your work is less than good, keep moving forward. I started a writer first and foremost. It is what I think I was best at before finding my expression in my photographic artwork. I can remember long ago when the internet was newer, a time when someone leveled me by making a horrid comment about an article I wrote for our local paper. I cried for a long time. I think of Walt and how his first stories submitted to a newspaper were rejected because they were not creative enough and I just shake my head. I then think about how later on, my writing not only got me a piece done on me in a large paper but also got me my advice column that I wrote for 10 years and had a following across state lines well before the internet was even up and running completely. I became quasi famous in my small corner of the world and my family did well on my writing for a long while. You cannot take the word of a person who might be jealous and might not be able to reach that good place inside of themselves to allow others to have their success. I will do as Walt did...field the hits, shake em off and keep moving forward.
In closing, if you have not had the chance to see the biography of Walt Disney, and you love learning about him and his work, you should see it. You will gain a lot of insight into the man and how his work came to be and get that inspiration for yourself as I did. It will also help you to put in perspective some of the more recent bad information being spread around regarding the Disney legacy. I"m not sure if it still is playing as this blog is a bit older but if you get the chance make sure to visit One Man's Dream at Hollywood Studios which is a museum of sorts of his story and history. Sometimes there is a film with it and sometimes they replace it with coming attractions. It is always awe inspiring!
Until then, always remember to learn the lessons of failure instead of letting it bog you down and make sure to keep moving forward.
This is my new blog so will fill up over time. Enjoy!
Hoping to Sprinkle some Pixie Dust and Inspire you with My Disney and Fla Momspiration Thoughts
Many things at the parks and just hanging around Central Florida inspire me and often move me to write. I have been told that many of my writings have helped people to get good perspective over the years. I often think of things that I am told are inspiring and sometimes a different way of seeing things. I love talking about all things Disney and Fla and hope these writing pieces touch you, inspire you and bring you to comment and converse with me. I always love meeting others who love Disney and Fla as much as I do. Dr. Sherri