Famous Failure: Walt Disney
Personal Growth Magazine
Even the unhappiest of beginnings can’t hold you back when you have drive and determination.
Meet Walt Disney. You’ve heard the name before, whether from the beloved mouse who’s graced our TV and movie screens for almost a century, to Frozen and a whole slew of animated and live-action movies our kids beg us to watch repeatedly.
Disney never set out to become a household name, even though that’s what happened. 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 even fully grown. He lied about his age so he could run away and join the army and became an ambulance driver in World War I.
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 the help of his brother. He failed dismally.
Not one to be easily put off by failure, Disney dug in his heels and tried again. He headed for California, which he felt was the future of 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 with 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. He 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.
Reflecting on the benefits of failure, Disney commented: “All the adversity I’ve had in my life, all the 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.”