“If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again” Although I am not comfortable with the word try, this little rhyme has stayed with me all my life. I have a feeling I heard it first when starting to tie my shoelaces, but I digress. It can be challenging to pick yourself up and try again when something you really want or have worked for, doesn’t go your way. When in this situation I know one thing. Whatever we were doing was not the way we should have been doing it. The universe is giving us a sign. However it’s not giving us a sign to give up, just to change tactics.
It’s a times like this when we need inspiration to go on. And who better to inspire us than successful people that have been in the same situation. This article is part of a series about people who inspire me, and I hope will inspire you during the times when you most need it.
Today’s inspiring person is Walt Disney. I recently watched the film Walt before Disney. I can highly recommend it. Before watching it I honestly had no idea how Disney struggled to create the magical empire the Disney family owns today. Here is the Disney story as I understand it. One of serious dedication and hard work to create a dream and it all eventually paid off….
Walt was actually fired from his first illustration work for “not being creative enough”. Despite this Walt went on and first set up his own animation company in 1921 Laugh-O-Grams the company lasted for 3 years and then went bankrupt at one point Walt couldn’t pay rent and ate dog food to survive. Even with this failure he pooled all the money he had with his brother and they moved to Florida starting the Disney Brother Company. Walt created a character called Oswald the Rabbit and for a short period experienced success until Charles Minz stole not only the rights to Oswald but also Walt’s animators.
Not deterred Walt immediately produced 3 short films. These were the first of the Mickey Mouse animations. But when approaching MGM he was told the idea wouldn’t work as giant mouse on screen would scare women! Somewhere around this point in his life Walt actually suffered a major breakdown. However he persevered and Steamboat Willie the first of the Mickey’s with a voice (actually Walt’s voice) became huge success.
People often think this was the start of Walt’s success however Disney’s road to success was never a smooth as that. His well known 3 Little Pigs was rejected by distributors because it only had 4 characters. Walt lost a million dollars on Pinocchio. Pollyanna failed at the box office. After WW2 Disney was in debt by $4 million.
Walt still had a dream and that was Disneyland. In order to finance it Walt took Disney to television. Even when Disneyland opened he faced challenges, forged tickets were bringing thousands of people into the park without his knowledge. The newly poured asphalt melted the heels of women, and a plumber’s strike kept drinking fountains from being installed in time. Walt insisted on creating a high level of customer service despite the costs and eventually he succeeded creating theme parks all over America. And still holds the record for the most oscars won by one person.
So beyond all that disappointment and learning came fantastic success. Walt would say, “Get a good idea, and stay with it. Dog it, and work at it until it’s done, and done right.” In picking himself up and in learning from his mistakes and moved on. He said: “To some people, I am kind of a Merlin who takes lots of crazy chances, but rarely makes mistakes. I’ve made some bad ones, but, fortunately, the successes have come along fast enough to cover up the mistakes. When you go to bat as many times as I do. you’re bound to get a good average.”
So what can we learn from Walt Disney?
- Do you allow failure to stop you?
- Do you learn from your mistakes?
- When you get knocked down do you get up again?
Walt Disney was just a normal man who had a dream and preserved against all of the odds to make that dream a reality. And so can we if we keep moving forwards, learning and trying and trying until we succeed. After all as Walt himself said “If you can dream it you can do it.”