I have never read a book about Walt Disney, but I would love to! The interesting thing about Walt is that you do not have to read a book about him to understand the man that he was. If you watch a Disney movie, go to a Disney park, or watch a short clip of Walt himself speaking, it doesn’t take long for you to realize that he was a man of innovation, fun, and adventure. That same spirit lives on today through the Disney “cast members” who work so hard to ensure that every Disney experience is magical. Walt has left a legacy that has continued on for 50 years and counting. One thing we have in common with Walt is that we too will leave a legacy. Here are 3 things we can all learn from Walt:
- If you have a vision, chase after it. Walt Disney had a vision to make every Disney experience “magical” and today the cast members hold the same vision, 50 years later. What is it that you want for your family, staff, or community? Want your family to love and serve the Lord for the rest of eternity? Live it out in front of them and teach them the ways of the Lord. Want your staff to offer the best service in town? Show them what it looks like and why it’s important. Notice, from the top-down the Chickfila experience is great, and easily the best fast food restaurant in America. This is because the management believed in a product and executed it in such a way that their workers bought in. I have no doubt when the Cathy’s are long gone, Chickfila will still be the premier fast food restaurant in the country. Want to make a difference in your community? Don’t wait for someone else to make a move, jump in and get your hands dirty. Begin empowering your small group, church leadership, and volunteers to do things that make a difference like feeding the homeless once (or more!) a month, volunteering with a local ministry, or building homes for the needy.
- Whatever you do, do it well. Walt only settled for the best, and even then he kept trying to find better ways to do things. If you’re a Starbucks barista, make the best lattés and Americanos in town, have a friendly smile, & spell peoples names correctly. You’ll be amazed who will come back to your Starbucks just to have you serve them. If you’re a coach, make your team a place where every player feels welcomed, needed, and encouraged…even the worst players, because you never know if that guy will become a coach someday just because his high school coach changed his life by believing in him. If you work in a cubicle, make it the best cubicle in the office, and do the best work possible. You never know who will notice.
- Focus on the young. Walt loved kids and he was a genius for it. Whether he did this on purpose or not, by focusing on kids he secured them later as adults who would love Disney for a lifetime. Credit card companies do the same thing now. You’ve got credit card Barbie, and ads for kids on the back of cereal boxes so that one day they will look forward to being adults and getting their first credit card. How does that look in day-to-day life? If you have kids, invest in them early. Moms & Grand-moms, that FaceBook post can wait till later, go push your kid on the swing. Dads, throwing baseball with your son will mean more than watching the first quarter of an SEC football game. Have a young employee? If you don’t invest in them right now you are ignorant! When I first came on Young Life staff I experienced some major growing pains, but thankfully the staff in our area pushed me and showed me how to excel. If you are a Christian and have a heart for discipleship, invest in new Christians! The most formative time of my Christian walk was when I was a new believer and would leave school and hang out with my Young Life leader at a local coffee shop for hours on end just talking. In fact, I would argue that it was over those cups of coffee that I am where I am today (thanks Brandon!).
If you do these things, you will leave a Walt Disney legacy. Call it a Graham Spell Guarantee. There are obviously numerous ways to leave a legacy worth leaving and I would love to hear ways that YOU are leaving a legacy in your home, at work, or even in your community. Just comment below!