Book Jeff

Disagreeable Disney Part Two

“Barnes! I swear you could ruin a birthday party!”

It’s been twenty-two years since my first boss in higher education yelled that to me across a room during a “leadership meeting” in Hawaii. Twenty-two years and I’ve never forgotten it.

I was being disagreeable. Again.

Everyone else in the room was satisfied with the status quo. Mired in mediocrity, everyone was obsessed with managing. No one wanted to lead.

Frustrated, I expressed my doubts about our current path. I knew we couldn’t keep having the same meeting. Discussing the same topics. Doing the same things yet expecting different results.

I wasn’t ruining the party. There was no party. We were meeting in Hawaii, one of the world’s most beautiful places, but we spent eight to ten hours each day…for a full week…in the same kind of classroom where you fell asleep back in middle school.


 Because that’s what we did. It’s what we had always done. And it didn’t matter if the leaders were meeting in Oklahoma, Texas, or Hawaii. That’s how we were going to do it. Same kind of room. Same kind of agenda. Same kind of conversations. Same kind of results.

 Sound familiar?

This is why you need to join me in being disagreeable. Some of you already have. Last week’s WEDnesdays With Walt post received more reaction than any other email, newsletter, or blog post I have ever written. And your voices are unanimous. Everyone agrees there is power in being disagreeable. Here is a small sample of what I heard from many of you:

“I completely agree with your statement on disagreement….We often times need to stand up and disagree with the popular opinion.”

“I agree with you—it’s sad when people let others shut them down or overthink and shut themselves down.”

“Excellent points. Change only comes when we challenge things and move towards a goal.”

“LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS….What a glorious reminder that sometimes, in order to truly create magic, we have to stand in our own truth—and disagree with others!!”

“You have really hit on something important here…. You need to say more on this topic!”

More on this topic? I’m in!

Thanks to your encouragement, I’ve spent the past week thinking about this topic and reflecting on how much more there is to say about the power of being disagreeable. Both in my own life and Walt’s.

I’ve spent my life seeing the world differently and disagreeing with others. Like that meeting in Hawaii, it hasn’t always been pretty. Or fun. But it has gotten me where I am. It would have been easy to stay in ministry, but I disagreed with church politics and policies. It would have been easy to keep teaching what I always taught in higher education, but I knew there was a better way to challenge students using something they already knew and loved: Disneyland. It would be easy to keep writing like I did in The Wisdom of Walt and Beyond the Wisdom of Walt. Why do anything differently?

Because I need the challenge. And so do you.

If your February has felt like twenty-eight (or nine) days of Groundhog Day, then join me in being disagreeable. Next week, I’m going to share a story of how Walt disagreed with his own success. His animators had acclimated to their accomplishments and achievements and were more than happy to keep doing what worked.

But Walt ruined the party. He ruined it with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. He ruined it with The Sorcerer’s Apprentice and Fantasia. And he ruined it with Disneyland.

Stay tuned!




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