Book Jeff

Disagreeable Disney

I’m wrong.

I’ve been wrong for years.

This year marks the ten-year anniversary of me teaching, speaking, and writing on Disney. I’ve been reading and researching for more than thirty. All this time, I’ve had this image of Walt as an affable, loveable, easy-going, everybody’s uncle kind-of-guy. Most of this picture comes from his appearances on television, especially on Sunday nights and The Wonderful World of Disney. Growing up, I watched it religiously. Many of you no doubt did as well.

In reality, Walt Disney was disagreeable. He saw things differently and had the courage to speak out when he disagreed. He took it upon himself to engage with the things he wanted to change. In doing so, he changed his world.

And ours.

In Beyond the Wisdom of Walt, I write about how Walt Disney loved giving tours of Disneyland. One of my favorite stories is when he gave a tour to Evangelist Billy Graham. While walking through the park, Graham gave Walt what he thought was a compliment: “This is a nice fantasy you have created.” Instead of soaking in the praise, Walt disagreed. Stunned and incensed, he turned to Graham and told him, pointedly, “You know the fantasy isn’t here. This is very real…. The Park is reality. The people are natural here; they’re having a good time; they’re communicating. This is what people really are. The fantasy is—out there, outside the gates of Disneyland, where people have hatreds and people have prejudices. It’s not really real!”

It’s not just Walt. The people who truly make a difference in this world are the ones who see things in a different light from everyone else. They are the ones to disagree with the status quo. They create their own realities. That’s who Walt Disney was. He saw things completely differently. Throughout his career, everyone tried to tell him why he was wrong. He simply disagreed.

 I want to write and speak more on “Disagreeable Disney.” Why? Because too many of us have incredible ideas, dreams, and goals, but then we talk ourselves out of even trying because we allow the critics and naysayers to shoot us down. Not Walt. No one believed in Mickey Mouse. No one believed in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. No one believed in Disneyland. Walt Disney disagreed and did it all, anyway.

Looking at Walt’s life and success through the prism of “Disagreeable Disney” gives us the perfect blueprint anyone can follow—not to create cartoons, full-length feature films, or amusement parks. But to be resilient in the face of roadblocks and resistance. No matter the challenge you face, you can learn from the lessons of Walt’s life and the power of being disagreeable.

The answer to success is not always being agreeable with everyone you meet. Quite the opposite. The people who make an impact are the people who disagree and do what everyone else says cannot be done.

Do you agree or disagree? Email me back and let me know your thoughts!



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