Tuesday, November 30, 2004

masters of creativity

Just got back from a trip to Walt Disney World. I never cease to be amazed at the level and quality of the creativity of that place.

While I was there, Jen drew my attention to a book (which I couldn’t resist buying), “The Imagineering Way” written by the Walt Disney Imagineers, the creative team behind the company

As I read the intro, words by Walt Disney himself, I was reminded of why he is one of my personal heroes. He did not fear failure or trying things outside of his comfort zone. Elsewhere in the book is written, “Many people never allow their creative abilities to surface because they fear what might happen. They fear failure. They fear feeling silly or inferior. They fear what others might think.”

How many times do we succumb to this fear and “go with what brung us,” stay with the tried and true and never experience the exhilaration of what could be? It is in that place of uncertainty that true creativity begins.

Enough of my words, take a minute to read Walt’s:

“Certainly we have all had [youthful] confidence at one time in our lives, though most of us lose it as we grow older. Perhaps, because of my work, I’ve been lucky enough to retain a shred of this youthful quality. But sometimes, as I look back on how tough things were, I wonder if I’d go through it again. I hope I would.

When I was about twenty-one, I went broke for the first time. I slept on chair cushions in my ‘studio’ in Kansas City and ate cold beans out of a can. But I took another look at my dream and set out for Hollywood.

Foolish? Not to a youngster. An older person might have had too much ‘common sense’ to do it. Sometimes I wonder if ‘common sense’ isn’t another way of saying ‘fear.’ And ‘fear’ too often spells failure.

In the lexicon of youth there is no such word as ‘fail.’ Remember the story about the boy who wanted to march in the circus parade? When the show came to town, the bandmaster needed a trombonist, so the boy signed up. He hadn’t marched a block before the fearful noises from his horn caused two old ladies to faint and a horse to run away. The bandmaster deamanded, ‘Why didn’t you tell me you didn’t play the trombone?’ And the boy said, ‘How did I know? I never tried before!’

Many years ago, I might have done just what that boy did. Now I’m a grandfather and have a good many gray hairs and what a lot of people call common sense. But if I’m no longer young in age, I hope I stay young enough in spirit never to fear failure – young enough still to take a chance and march in the parade.”

-- Walt Disney