It’s hard to believe that the “happiest place on earth” was the creation of someone who grew up in a household that was about as far from happy as you can image.
Meet Walt Disney. It’s another name that is well known throughout the world. Disney has come a long way from a cartoon mouse that Walt drew by hand to the latest Disney movie, Raya and the Last Dragon which was created with a budget of over 100 million dollars.
However, Disney never set out to become a household name. In fact, his beginnings have a whole lot more to do with escaping from a bad situation and trying to find his place in the world.
Walt Disney grew up with a father so cruel and abusive that Walt’s elder brothers couldn’t leave home soon enough. Walt himself made his escape before he was considered an adult. He tried to enlist in the army to fight in WWI but was rejected because of his age. So, he lied about his age in order to get a position as an ambulance driver for the Red Cross. When the Red Cross sent him to France, Walt arrived after the war had already ended.
With such rough beginnings, it should come as no surprise young Walt kept drawing as a way to hold onto his sanity in difficult times. After the war, he tried to make a living off his drawings, first as an apprentice to an animation studio, then later in a studio of his own, which he formed with his friend Ub Iwerks. That business failed due to the inability to gain customers. He then created an animation business with a co-worker by the name of Fred Harman, but that business went bankrupt within a few years.
Not one to be easily put off by failure, Disney dug in his heels and tried again. He headed for California, which he felt would become the epicenter for the movie industry, and set up shop. Here he had success with Oswald, a cartoon rabbit that the public loved. So did the unscrupulous people he was working with. His animators were stolen right out from under him, as was the very character he’d created.
Most people probably would have quit somewhere around here. Not Walt. He instead created a mouse named Mickey and kept going.
From there, Disney never rested. He tried his hand at a full-length animated film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, which became very successful. On the other hand, he also tried things that were considered ‘flops,’ such as Fantasia and Pinocchio. His was a career full of ups and downs. When he opened Disneyland, just about everything that could go wrong, did. Instead of throwing in the towel, Walt simply dug in and worked harder to make it the success he knew it could be.
The life of Walt Disney teaches us many things. First, it doesn’t matter where you begin. The point is to get started. Second, you can’t let disaster get you down. You simply need to pull yourself up and move on without looking back. No matter where you are in life, keep going. The only thing that can hold you back is you.