Walt Disney had a burning desire for excellence in everything he did. He was always thinking, ‘We can do it better.’ That’s a common trait of all successful people.
Royal Clark, former treasurer of WED Enterprises
Walt Disney’s life provides powerful lessons that can be applied in any leadership position. Author Pat Williams recognized this, and went behind the legend to discover a man every bit as fascinating as the world he created.
How to Be Like Walt is the result of thousands of hours of interviews of the people who knew Walt best. In addition to being a fascinating life story of one of our nation’s most creative minds, the author has distilled Walt’s life into 17 lessons – lessons that we all could learn from. I introduced the topic yesterday; here are a few more:
Plus Every Experience: Sometime during the 1940s, Walt coined the term “plussing.” Normally, the word “plus” is a conjunction, as in “two plus two equals four.” But Walt used the word as a verb – an action word. To “plus” something is to improve it. “Plussing” means giving your guests more than they paid for, more than they expect, more than you have to give them. No matter what “business” you are in, your success depends on your commitment to excellence and attention to detail. If you deliver more than people expect, you will turn people into fans. Pursue excellence in everything you do.
Be a Person of Stick-to-it-ivity: Today we look at Disneyland and say, “Of course! Just what the world needed. How could it miss?” But in 1955, Disneyland was the biggest gamble in the history of American business. The risk paid off – not because Walt was lucky or favored or a genius. It paid off because Walt wouldn’t quit. The success of Disneyland is, first and foremost, the result of sheer dogged determination and persistence in the face of obstacles and opposition. In his own words, “Get a good idea and stay with it. Dog it, and work at it until it’s done, and done right.”
Become Like a Sponge for Ideas: Walt continually fed his mind with information and ideas. He absorbed inspiration wherever he went. If you want to be like Walt – more creative, more imaginative, and more successful – then keep your eyes and ears open. Read. Watch. Travel. Talk to people wherever you go. Ask questions. Invite opinions. Become a sponge for ideas.
Ask Yourself “How About Tomorrow?”: Walt embraced the future and put the stamp of his own personality on tomorrow. If we want to help shape a better tomorrow, then we need to continually ask ourselves the same question Walt asked Ray Bradbury: “How about tomorrow?” The difference between today and tomorrow is something called change. It takes courage to embrace the future, because the future is about change, and change brings uncertainty and anxiety. We fear change; we prefer the comfort of the familiar. But change is inevitable. If we do not become future-focused, we are doomed to obsolescence when tomorrow arrives. There are so many possible futures – which one will you choose?
Here are the rest of the author’s “How to Be Like Walt” lessons:
- Become an Animated Leader
- Take a Risk
- Dealing with Loss
- Live for the Next Generation
- Build Complementary Partnerships
- Stay Focused
- Accept Your Mortality
- Make Your Family Your Top Priority
- Be the Person God Made You to Be
Each of the 17 lessons in the book are richly illustrated with stories by and about Walt Disney. I encourage you to get a copy and prepare to be delighted – and challenged.
Walt’s life challenges us to dream bigger, reach higher, work harder, risk more, and persevere as long as it takes. That is the rich legacy Walt Disney left us. That is the supreme lesson of his endlessly instructive life. The riches of an incredible, adventure-filled life are within our grasp – if we will dare to be like Walt.
If you liked these two posts, here a few more select Disney-related posts:
The Secret of Disney World
Top Ten Takeaways from Our Disney World Adventure
Understanding Guests Like Disney