There is no need for me to even say it. However, I will say it anyway. We all know we hear it, which is the same reason I will say, “Disney World again?!” How many times do we hear it? Well, with each time we make those ADR’s we know at least one more!
So, why? I have heard it said in many different ways and each way I think I can appreciate and agree with.
“It makes me feel like a kid again”
“It is where my happiest memories are”
“It helps me get away from reality”
“For those who don’t understand no explanation will do, for those who do no explanation is needed”
Once of my earliest memories as a small child in 1973 was me in a stroller in Adventureland. “The World” would become a place where those and many more memories were created. Year after year, memory after memory it was always a place to return and create more memories. When I had my own kids it was the same thing. Disney World was a place where I wanted to create memories with my two boys and wife. I remember a lot of things as a small boy but many of the most powerful are those created with my family in Disney World. But the same question still lingers in the back of my head, why?
Aren’t there other places? Can’t memories be created somewhere else? Well the answer is yes and we do try to create those memories but why the gravitation to Disney? The answer of the past few years for me became clear.
I have several passions in my life. I don’t claim to be an expert on anything but I concentrate my efforts on my passions in life and I don’t wander from what those are. One of those passions is Disney, another one of those passions is running. Yet one other is Leadership and personal growth. I love to see myself and others grow. I love to study leadership and great leaders. What makes a leader great?
As I began to read and study about Walt the man and as I would look at Disney the company I became mesmerized. Walt started to become real for me. He turned from a legend and a brand to a name and a leader for me. For me personally there is a difference between a legend and a leader. A legend in my mind is something to be talked about and looked at with great respect. However, a legend for me is far and distant. A leader in my mind is something real.
A legend is something to admire but is there something there that I can learn from? I am not sure. A leader is human, real and makes mistakes. That is right, Walt Disney made mistakes. At first I would read that as, “How dare you say such a thing!” But the more I look at it, the more I admire Walt. He is just like me; he also had to learn lessons the hard way.
“It is good to have a failure while you are young because it teaches you so much. For one thing it makes you aware that such a thing can happen to anybody, and once you’ve lived through the worst, you’re never quite as vulnerable afterward.” Walt Disney
That is one of my favorite all time quotes.
Years ago failure for me was something to avoid like the plague. As I have looked at some of the greatest leaders ever known to man I noticed two things they had in common. First, they all failed. They usually failed really badly. Second, they all knew how to learn from it and overcome it. It was a real eye opener for me.
“So get back to the parks”, you say. I know and I hear you, what does this all mean? Here is what I can tell you. When I walk into the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios or the Animal Kingdom is it not just a vacation for me. It becomes a learning experience. I want to watch, observe, interact and learn while I am there. I can assure you as hard as it might be to believe today, Walt and his DNA are still all over the Walt Disney Company. You can’t just get rid of that even from all of those year ago.
When you figure this out you can begin to look at the most magical place on earth in a different light. Some of us fans judge Disney by everything they do. There is nothing wrong with this in my mind. However, I judge the results different from most. Do I have high expectations? The answer is yes. Do I expect those to always be met? The answer is no. Not only is the answer no but I am glad it is no. What!?
It is simple for me. That DNA of Walt is still there today. Walt was a great leader because he failed, and he learned to overcome it. Watching the leaders at Disney today is still the same. Making a ride like Soarin’! Well that is fantastic! I love the ride and I love everything about it. How about Expedition Everest? Well, I love the ride but what about the Yeti? What is next for the Yeti? It has been a tough lesson about doing something incredible and having it not work like they hoped. So what do they do next? I don’t look at Disney in regards to the Yeti with disgust and think what must Walt think? I think he may have done the same thing, failed. And there is nothing wrong with that. Let us all watch and learn at what Disney does next? In time Disney will respond and Disney will do as Walt, fail and overcome.
How do they learn from it? What do they do next? What do they do different? These are all questions that will be answered. I look forward to seeing how.
So, back to the beginning, Why? It is a place of memories for me. I hope it is a place of memories for my two boys and my wife. I also can’t think of a better leader to learn from than Walt Disney. Why would I not want my family exposed to Walt? His DNA, his philosophy and he way of doing things is still all over this company. When I think of someone I would want my two boys to learn from, Walt would be at the top of the list.
He failed and he overcame. I only hope to do the same.
That is my why!