Book Jeff

Disagreeable Disney Part 3

Following the success of Steamboat Willie in late 1928, Walt set the standard for animators, animation studios, and short cartoons. It was one story after another—all filled with farm animals, gags, and belly laughs. Soon enough, Walt hated it. What had once intrigued him now infuriated him. Walt Disney disagreed with his own success.

I’m not sure when the tipping point came, but I suspect it was soon after the phenomenal success of The Three Little Pigs in 1933. Theatres and audiences alike clamored for more. Walt reluctantly relented, but the sequels weren’t nearly as acclaimed or successful. Regretting his decision, Walt famously quipped, “Well, you can’t top pigs with pigs.”

Walt moved on to riskier endeavors. Refusing to rest on his laurels, he instead gave the world Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Next was Fantasia, which evolved from a “concert short” into The Sorcerer’s Apprentice and, eventually, its own full-length feature film. Why not stick to shorts? Why not keep the gags? Why not just do what he had been doing, successfully, for the past decade?

Because Walt knew you can’t stay still. There’s no such thing as stagnant. You are either growing or you are dying. “If we quit growing mentally and artistically we will begin to die…they [his animators] need to grow. They need to outdo themselves. They need to keep ‘plussing.’”

Plussing? I thought “plussing” was something Walt designed into Disneyland in the 1950s. Nope! Because he refused to settle, Walt was talking about growing, changing, evolving, and plussing twenty yearsbefore Disneyland ever opened its gates.

Being disagreeable does not have to mean being difficult. It’s about the power of seeing things differently. It’s about the power of having a contrarian view and a contrarian attitude in a constructive and practical way. It means having the courage and confidence to make change a positive reality.

What risk-taking project are you taking on? Do you have the courage today to disagree with where you are? Regardless of your success, are you willing to keep pushing. To keep “plussing”?

After all, you can’t plus pigs with pigs!

Let me know what’s next for you.  Tell me about the fantasia you have in your mind.  How are you changing your world by disagreeing with your current reality?



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