Lessons I Learned from Disney – Part 5: Dreams Come True

career success Sep 29, 2015

When you see an advertisement for Disney Parks, and they show their tag line, The Place Where Dreams Come True, you might conjure up images of children meeting their favorite pirate or princess (by the way, my favorite is Belle). In fact, the title of this blog post, Dreams Come True, might sound a bit trite at this point. However, I invite you to explore with me how we can truly make our dreams come true. That dream might be earning your CCNA R/S certification, or perhaps your CCIE in Collaboration. Maybe it’s getting that dream job, or starting your own IT consulting business. Well, princesses and pirates aside, I’ve learned much about realizing my dreams from Disney.

Walt’s Dream

In a previous blog posting in the “Lessons I’ve Learned from Disney” series, we learned about how Walt Disney overcame the adversity of losing Oswald the Lucky Rabbit and came up with the idea for Mickey Mouse. But let’s fast forward a few years.

Walt was enjoying the success of his animation studio, which really took off after the creation of Snow White in 1937. He enjoyed family time with his wife Lillian and two daughters, Diane and Sharon. Saturdays were the days Walt spent with his daughters. On one such Saturday, the girls were enjoying a merry-go-round at Los Angeles’ Griffith Park, while Walt sat on a nearby park bench eating peanuts.

Wishing he could be doing something with his daughters instead of just watching them, Walt had an idea while sitting on that park bench. Recounting the event, Walt later said, “I felt there should be something built, some kind of amusement enterprise built, where the parents and the children could have fun together.”

That dream, that spark of inspiration, later manifested itself as Disneyland. If you ever visit Disneyland, take a look at the window just above the Fire Dept. That was Walt’s apartment, where he would occasionally stay when working late at the park. Sometimes his wife Lillian joined him, each of them sleeping on pull-out sofas. Disneyland now continually burns a lamp in the window of the apartment as a tribute to the man and his dream.

On Disneyland’s opening day (July 17, 1955), Walt was standing in his apartment, looking out the window, as the Disneyland gates opened to the public for the first time. One of the young Mouseketeers (Sharon Bird) standing next to him later recalled, “I was standing next to him at the window, watching the guests come pouring through the gates. When I looked up at him, he had his hands behind his back, a grin from ear to ear; I could see a lump in his throat and a tear streaming down his cheek. He had realized his dream.”

Our Dreams

Maybe you haven’t created your own theme park, but surely you’ve realized many dreams in your life. Take a moment, and think back to what they were, and how you felt the moment you realized each of those dreams came true.

A dream is a wish your heart makes. – Cinderella

Two such moments in my career were the times I passed my CCIE R/S Lab and CCIE Voice Lab. Both were extremely emotional times for me.

Another time was when I realized my dream of working for Disney had come true. Although I’m a long-time Disney fan, there was something special about a trip to Walt Disney World that my family and I took in February of 2000. I had been reading Inside the Magic Kingdom: Seven Keys to Disney’s Success, and was fascinated by the inner workings of the park. As we were about to return home, I was surveying the scenery, the palm trees, and the monorail. It then occurred to me that Walt Disney World would be a great place to work.

After returning home, I went to a website with Disney job listings and found an opening for a Network Design Specialist. After a phone interview, Disney flew me down to Orlando for an in-person interview, and offered me the job shortly thereafter (in May of 2000). Disney paid our moving expenses, and in early June of 2000, my wife, two young daughters, and I were off to our new home in Florida.

One of the coolest things about Walt Disney World, in my opinion, was the circular tunnel running underneath the Magic Kingdom. Curious to explore, one night around 4:00 AM I went to a parking lot where a bus transported Disney cast members (what Disney calls their employees) to the tunnel entrance. Even though I had no work-related reason to be there, I flashed my ID and hopped on-board the bus. Soon, I found myself walking the complete circumference of the tunnel system. Wanting to see what the Magic Kingdom looked like in the middle of the night, I climbed one of the staircases and popped out in the Liberty Square area of the park.

There was a surprising amount of maintenance going on in the middle of the night. White porch railings were being given a fresh coat of paint, while the streets were wet from pressure washing. Then, I wandered over to Cinderella Castle and stood on one of the bridges. The castle was bathed in purple light, which reflected off the water under the bridge. It was at that moment it occurred to me that dreams do come true.

More recently (one year ago this month), I took a leap of faith and walked away from my job as an instructor for a Cisco Learning Partner (where I had been for nearly fourteen years). The reason I left was to follow my dream of starting my own company, where I would create training videos and write books. One year later, I’m thrilled to have made the move, and am loving what I do.

Your Next Dream

While faith, trust, and pixie dust couldn’t hurt in pursuit of your dreams, we often need more tactical strategies. So, if you haven’t already done so, I invite you to read a previous blog post I did on setting and achieving goals. That post gives you very specific strategies for realizing your dreams and accomplishing your goals.

In this post, however, I wanted to rekindle your imagination and remind you that you can make the invisible visible. You can have a dream, take action towards its attainment, and relish in the joy of having that dream come true.

So my question is this, “What’s your next dream?” Are you already working towards a life-changing career-altering goal? If not, pause for a moment, and dream. Imagine the time is five years from now. What new accomplishment could you have achieved in those five years that you can look back on with pride? Is it a high-level certification, a career change, or something in your personal life?

Whatever it is, I urge you to take one minute right now, and capture that dream. Write it down in your planner, or type it into your computer or smartphone. Then, schedule an hour on your calendar where you’ll create a mind map (see previous blog post for mind mapping instructions) for realizing your dream.

All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them. – Walt Disney

Kevin Wallace, CCIEx2 (R/S and Collaboration) #7945, CCSI 20061

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