Book Jeff

One Chance

Disney Leadership Speaker | Jeff Barnes | The Wisdom of Walt


I have a co-worker, Michael, who lives by the axiom, “you only ever get one chance to notice a new haircut.”  The irony, of course, is that Michael is the second baldest man in our office. You can guess who is the baldest.

I work in an office filled with middle-aged, balding men.  But haircuts still happen. And they still count. When one of us walks in sporting a shorter and sharper look than the day before then you better take notice.  Compliments can’t come a day–or even an hour–late.

“Hey, Steve.  Did you get a haircut?”  

“I did!”

“Looks great!”

“Thanks.  You know what Michael always says, you only ever get one chance to notice a new haircut.  Great job!”

Whew!  The day is only five minutes old but I have already passed the first test.  If I can see the hairline changes in Steve’s receding hairline, then chances are I won’t be so oblivious to the major challenges that I will inevitably face as the day grows longer.

I have been “mostly” bald for nearly three decades now.  My hair started falling out in 1989, sometime near November when my daughter, Bethany, was born.  I’m not blaming her per se. I’m just saying it didn’t last long after she arrived. She has only ever known me without hair.


She has seen the before pictures and they aren’t pretty.  I had a bowl cut when I was a kid. I had Farrah Fawcett feathered hair when I was a teen.  On the day I graduated high school, I had a full-fledged Afro. Bethany once told me, “You know dad, I don’t think you went bald.  God revoked your hair privileges.”

She isn’t wrong.

Last week, the baldest man in our office made a haircut appointment with the Harmony Barber Shop at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom.  When you go to Disney as much as Niki and I do, it can be a challenge to still find something that you have never done. Getting my haircut on Main Street USA is something that I had never done, and I have always wanted to do.

Disneyland Leadership Speaker | Jeff Barnes | The Wisdom of Walt


It was quite an experience.  Having waited more than five decades to finally do this, I had no idea that a kid getting his “first” haircut at Walt Disney World was a “thing.”  Disney sells this package to parents—complete with pictures, certificates, the works. I wasn’t just the baldest man in the barbershop that day, I was also the oldest.

And it wasn’t even close.

I can’t remember the last time I paid for a haircut.  For years, Niki has been cutting my hair for free. Because I am follically challenged, there is only so much you can do with what I don’t have.  My Harmony haircut was $19.

$24 including the tip.  It was worth every penny.

There is something special about getting something as basic as a routine haircut at The Most Magical Place on Earth.  While my barber, “Dulce Maria” lopped off my locks (the entire experience was quicker than a 3-minute ride on the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train), I had a great view of guests entering the park via the tunnels under the Victorian-era train station.  The Main Street Marching Band passed by, reminding me of my days as a saxophone player and our end-of-the-year band trips to Walt Disney World. In an instant I was transported back to the days of my long-haired youth and that era of unlimited tomorrows.

Main Street USA reminds us of yesterday, but today I want to remind you that Tomorrowland is not your friend.  None of us has an unlimited number of tomorrows. Like my Harmony haircut, your dream needs an appointment. I cut it close by waiting more than five decades…I don’t want you to wait more than five seconds.  Take a moment to think about what your first step, your next step, needs to be. Then count down from five and Do It!  

Why now?  Because life is a lot like my haircuts.  Way too short.

And you only ever get one chance.

Disneyland Leadership Speaker | Jeff Barnes | The Wisdom of Walt


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