Five Lessons on Staying Motivated and Bouncing Back From Failure

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Walt Disney with a cutout of his famous cartoon, Mickey Mouse. Photo: United Artists/Photofest via www.biography.com

Hello, friends! Today, l want us to consider five lesson from the bounce-back story of Walt Disney. I hope this will inspire a cartoonist and an African Walt Disney.

  1. Follow your heart

The journey to success is hard enough by itself, but it’s much harder when you go down a path that doesn’t resonate with you.

Too often, we attempt to garner energy and motivation to pursue a goal that we know deep down inside, isn’t right for us. And so, when adversity strikes, we lose motivation and give up.

Unlike most people at the time, Disney passed on working for his father’s factory and followed his heart to pursue his dream of a career in animation, even though the industry was very young and nowhere near as profitable as it is today.

His father would often criticize his dreams and say that he wouldn’t succeed, but that didn’t sway Walt. It drove him even further, to the extent that whenever he faced adversity and failure, he had the capacity to bounce back and keep going.

Trust your gut, pursue the goals that suit your natural skill set and inclination, and quit those that don’t.

  1. Be grateful for failure and move forward

“All the adversity I’ve had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles, have strengthened me… You may not realise it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.” — Walt Disney

We live in a world that’s obsessed with success and the secrets of successful people.

We do everything we can to avoid failure in life and work. And yet, behind each success story is a mountain of failures.

Instead of running away from failure, Disney ran towards it and turned adversity from foe to ally.

He forgave himself for making mistakes, learned from each failure and used failure as a solid foundation for success:

“Around here, however, we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we’re curious… and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”

  1. Go all in

In the game of poker, when a player goes “all in,” it means the player has committed their entire stack of money, and risks losing it all.

Likewise, Disney took the risk and committed his life to achieving his dreams.

In an interview, Disney said:

“A person should set his goals as early as he can and devote all his energy and talent to getting there. With enough effort, he may achieve it. Or he may find something that is even more rewarding. But in the end, no matter what the outcome, he will know he has been alive.”

It’s easy to halt our efforts and give up when there’s a plan B. But when our backs are against the wall and there are no other options available, our survival instincts kick in and we follow through on our plans.

If you have one foot out of the door, you’re already setting yourself up for failure.

Make your final decision: are you all in, or all out?

  1. Invest in knowledge

“There is more treasure in books than in all the pirates’ loot on Treasure Island and at the bottom of the Spanish Main… and best of all, you can enjoy these riches every day of your life.” — Walt Disney

Disney was an avid learner, and often spent his evenings after working hours, watching animations and studying films.

As he read more books and learned from his failures, his self-confidence grew, and his incidents of failure diminished.

This is no coincidence. Confidence and knowledge go hand in hand.

The more knowledgeable you are at something, the more competent you will be at doing it. The more competent you are, the more confidence you will have. And the more confidence you have, the more likely you’ll succeed.

And when you enjoy the rewards of success, you’ll gain more self-confidence and motivation to keep going. And then the cycle repeats itself.

  1. Embrace self-delusion

At some point in their journey, successful people were labelled as “delusional.” But once their crazy dreams turned to reality, they were quickly labelled a “success.”

Delusion and extraordinary success are two sides of the same coin. In order to achieve something that has never been done before, you’d have to believe in something that nobody else does.

Disney was delusional. He believed that his crazy dreams would come true, even when his current reality said otherwise.

Yet, today we are enjoying the by-product of his self-delusion, with the legacy of Disney characters, Disney world, Disney movies and much more.

The moral of the story is this: if you feel like you’re the only person who believes in your crazy dream, you’re probably on the right track.

Because contrary to popular opinion, there isn’t any safety in numbers: if everyone else believes it’s possible, it’s already been done.

Carve your path, embrace your self-delusion and in the parting words of Disney:

“When you believe in a thing, believe in it all the way, implicitly and unquestionably.”

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