Do you remember reading this headline?
“King of Belgium, Walt Disney and Unknown Columnist Lost in Disneyland Underwater Accident.”
Of course you don’t, because it didn’t happen. But it was feared that it could have.
James Bacon started his career as a writer for the Associated Press, and then spent almost 20 years with the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner. During that time he interviewed Walt, was at the opening of Disneyland, and covered much of the Hollywood scene during those years. THE Disney Historian, Jim Korkis discovered and shared a long lost article by James Bacon entitled, Remembering Walt where the following story was shared…
Bacon recalled when Walt was entertaining the King of Belgium on a visit to Disneyland. Some members of the press were invited to be a part of this tour led by Walt himself. As the day unfolded, Walt escorted King Baudoin of Belgium through various parts of Disneyland, pointing out sights, and talking about things yet to be built. The group eventually stopped at one of the newest and still unopened attractions, the new submarine ride.
As they looked at it, Walt enthusiastically looked at the young king and said, “How about you and I testing this?
Then Walt said, “we’ll take Jim along with us. You always need a member of the press along when you pioneer something.” (The Jim he was referring to was the originator of the story, James Bacon)
This as you might imagine made everyone more than a little bit nervous. One Disney engineer told Walt that he couldn’t and shouldn’t go down in the submarine because they had not tested it yet. They did not want the responsibility. Walt didn’t listen, he climbed into the sub, along with the King and the reporter, and the first ever ride of the submarine was taken.
That is when James Bacon suggested that the headline flashed through his mind-“King of Belgium, Walt Disney and Unknown Columnist Lost in Disneyland Underwater Accident.”
The submarine ride was successful and event free…the end result was a memory of a king, a reporter, and probably one for Walt himself.
Walt was extremely confident that all was going to be fine as he climbed on board the sub that day. He believed in their idea, he believed in the concept, he believed in the design of the attraction, and he believed in the people who had worked so hard to make it a reality. It was that belief, that strong belief, that allowed him to defy the advice of the engineer and risk climbing aboard the untested attraction.
His belief was not a “pie-in-the-sky” belief however, it was a belief that was built upon vision, dreams, planning, and hard work. It was belief based in reality and based on evidence that he had seen throughout his career. But as a leader, Walt understood the importance of being willing to add some risk to what he knew…and by adding the risk, he was adding the ingredient needed to make dreams come true.
The world we live in today is a culture of information overload. There are 24 hour news cycles, there is the instant info dispersed through social media, every person with a smart phone has the ability to capture events and share them instantly. To say it simple, we live in an era of information overload. But with all the information available to us we still must decide what we believe. Because with information comes misinformation.
To live life to the fullest we must learn the skill of processing and filtering all the information that swirls around us and then decided what we believe. Once we do that, then we are able to risk and try new things.
When Walt climbed into the sub that day he was taking a risk…but he was not being foolish. And there is a huge difference. Some people make foolish decisions each day simply because they don’t know what to believe, they believe the wrong things, or they don’t ever think through or process what is happening around them. Visionaries can see what is yet to be because they understand what is…and are willing to risk because of what they believe.
Risk takers change the world…but it begins with belief. What do you believe?