What Great Leaders Do When They Fail

As a young man, Walt Disney was hired to work at the Kansas City Star newspaper.  He was later fired from the paper because "he lacked imagination and had no good ideas."

In 1922, he started his first film company with a partner in Kansas City.  Disney couldn't cover his overhead and his studio went bankrupt in 1923.  Things got so bad at one point that he could not pay his rent and survived by eating dog food.

When Walt tried to get MGM Studios to distribute Mickey Mouse in 1927, he was told that the idea would never work - a giant mouse on the screen would terrify women.

His movie, Pinocchio, lost a million dollars in its first release.

His movie, Alice in Wonderland, initially lost a half-million dollars.
His movie, Sleeping Beauty, was a financial failure, leading to animation layoffs and a company-wide annual loss.

Walt never lived to see Fantasia become a success.  1940 audiences were put off by its lack of a story.  Also the final scene, with the devil damning the souls of the dead, was considered unfit for children.

The movie, Pollyanna, in 1960 failed at the box office.  It was concluded that the title was off-putting for boys.

The city of Anaheim originally rejected the plans for Disneyland, saying it would attract “riff-raff.”

Worthwhile visions aren’t easy.  The road is usually uphill and involves sweat and determination.  You have to work for it...sometimes for years and even decades.  And you will fail on the way.  Like any leader, Walt faced many obstacles and failure.  But the difference – he didn’t give up on his vision.  He was a finisher.  Nothing would stop him from seeing his vision fulfilled.

All the adversity I’ve had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles, have strengthened me. You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.  -Walt Disney
The reason many leaders don’t see their vision fulfilled is because they give up when things get bumpy on the road to the vision.  You see, sticking with a vision is just as important as casting a vision.
A vision fulfilled is normally the result of 1,000 failures.
What is the vision you have given up on?  What is the vision you have stopped praying for?  What is the vision you’ve stopped sharing because of the “no’s” you’ve heard?  Keep pursuing it!  Don’t give up!  It’s better to fail on the way to accomplishing your vision than to just stare at it from your comfort zone. The reward of seeing it come to pass will far outweigh the discomfort you went through to get there.  Just ask Walt!  Here’s what he said about creating Disneyland.
Well, it took many years. I started with many ideas, threw them away, and started all over again.  And eventually it evolved into what you see today at Disneyland.  -Walt Disney
This is article is an excerpt from the new book If Disney Ran Your Children's Ministry, where you'll find help to fulfill the vision God has placed in your heart.  You can get it today at kidminmouse.com.