As great as he was, Walt always understood that for him to be successful, the team surrounding him had to be successful as well. Over the years there has been much written and theorized about Walt as a leader. Some accounts seem to recall that he was demanding, perhaps too demanding. Other accounts might lead you to believe that Walt was merely a dictator who forced those around him to do his bidding. The truth is that Walt was a great leader who valued and understood the importance of his team. While critics often try to criticize, which takes absolutely no skill at all… the reality is that those who worked with Walt and around Walt truly loved the man.
I am always moved by watching interviews with people that Walt Disney worked with.
The tears in their eyes after all these years as they speak of his life and how they miss him. Leadership is tough and never a popularity contest, but Walt had the ability to inspire and challenge those around him to be more with him, and more together, than they ever could have been without those connections and relationships.
Walt had once given a design challenge to Disney Legend, Herb Ryman. After weeks of work, Walt looked at what he had created and rejected the idea. Stunned by Walt’s quick rejection of his work and frustrated that Walt gave him very little input to what he was actually looking for, Ryman boiled over and yelled at Walt as he was leaving the room.
“Well, give me a clue about what you are looking for!” Ryman shouted.
Walt stopped and stood still, slowly turned back toward Ryman with his eyebrow raised in mock surprise at both the question and the outburst. Then Walt answered, “Just do something that people will like!”
Ryman went back to work being reminded that for Walt, his standard was his audience, and he liked what his audience would like. It was never about what the individual artist, designer, or animator liked… it was about the audience it was designed for. In other words, it was not about them it was about others.
Great leaders understand that.
In life, there are various opinions of how you measure success. But when the final books are balanced – life is never about what you gained but about what you give. Each person has one chance to pass through a lifetime and will choose how they want to live. Will they turn their life into a quest to attain, collect, and amass the most stuff – or will they use the resources within their grasp to bless, share, and better the lives of others?
Remembering that life is never about you but always about others sets you on a path of greatness. Along the way you will make the lives of others better and the impact you make on them can ripple through eternity…and then of course, and
this should not be a surprise – you will find that you are blessed and your life is better because of what you have given.