He was a small-town kid, and by the time he was dead, he became a legend and a giant, one of the greatest impacts on the American culture, and still is. He failed over 300 times in the pursuit of his dreams without losing enthusiasm. With every failure came a lesson, with many tries came a few victories. He went bankrupt, was evicted from his house and his studio, and colleagues and friends abandoned him when they lost interest in his vision.
Other people said he lacked creativity and artistry, rejected his work many times, told him his animations were a total joke, said he was acting childish, but he didn’t care and kept betting on himself. He didn’t care about money either. He had an unshakable belief he could make his animations better than ever had been done before and strived to create a product he could be proud of and had fun while creating it. He was obsessed with making the product extraordinary, and he wanted to become the greatest animator of all time. Meet Walt Disney, the greatest animator of all time.
When you believe in a thing, believe in it all the way, implicitly and unquestionable.
— Walt Disney
The world tried to break him, but can a visionary ever be broken? The world can consume, poison, sicken a reality, though can it touch dreams? The world can blow away a house made of straws or sticks, but dreams are made of bricks. The three little pigs said it, and we heard it, yet we didn’t listen. Who’s afraid of the big bad wolf? Most people are, but Walt Disney wasn’t like most people.
“All our dreams can come true; if we have the courage to pursue them,” he said. And that’s what he did. He also said: “I only hope that we don’t lose sight of one thing—that it was all started by a mouse.” And that was true too. His first studio Laugh-O-Gram went bankrupt, and he put all his money, effort, and indestructible hope in a mouse called Mortimer which later came to be Mickey. Mickey saved him and his studio the same way Snow White, Dumbo, and many other characters did. Let’s not forget the origins of these characters that come from the realm of dreams, passion, and love. From a portal into a whole new world, a magic world.
It’s the same magic he planted in our culture through the ethos of his company and the same magic he used to draw a literal realm of magic in the real world—Disneyland. And people said he lacked creativity and artistry. I will repeat it so that we might listen for once in our lives. Who’s afraid of the big bad wolf?
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They couldn’t believe their luck as they found the goose that would lay golden eggs. Their only obstacle, a 22-year-old kid who had no idea how the world works. He was but a triviality because no kid could refuse $1 billion. But Mark wasn’t a typical kid and wasn’t willing to sell Facebook to Yahoo for $1 billion. Meet Mark Zuckerberg.
When Yahoo! offered to buy Facebook for $1 billion in July 2006, I thought we should at least consider it. But Mark Zuckerberg walked into the board meeting and announced: “Okay, guys, this is just a formality, it shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes. We’re obviously not going to sell here.” Mark saw where he could take the company, and Yahoo! didn’t. A business with a good definite plan will always be underrated in a world where people see the future as random.
— Peter Thiel and Blake Masters, Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future
Almost everyone else in his team wanted to sell. He didn’t. They were building the first News Feed, and he thought if they could launch it, it could change the way people learn about the world. Everyone else couldn’t see that. He did. He believed in what he and his team were doing, but he felt alone in that vision. Within a year, everyone on the management team left, and he was left alone.
The night Mark launched Facebook he was excited to connect one community, and he thought one day someone would connect the whole world. He didn’t know back then he would be that certain someone. But change starts local, and he connected one community at a time until there was a point where Mark connected the whole world. His sense of higher purpose triumphed, and his vision became truth.
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He was a young man from South Africa who came to the US, the land of dreams, to make them a reality. As a kid, he was afraid of the dark until he realized that the dark is the absence of photons in a visible wavelength—the lack of light. It’s the same realization that influenced the course of his life.
He made electronic cash transfer possible by cofounding PayPal and selling it at a later stage. He taught himself rocket science by studying from books and privatized space exploration by creating a company called Space X, with the end goal to colonize Mars and ensure the survival of humanity. Exploration of space wasn’t enough for him, and he took the challenge to stop the earth’s addiction to fossil fuels and reduce global warming. Thus, he cofounded with his cousins a company called SolarCity to provide sustainable energy production. Then he cofounded Tesla Inc., to match sustainable energy production with consumption. As a product architect at Tesla Inc., he turned electric cars and changed the perception around them, from golf carts to Ferraris. Meet Elon Musk.
At one point, all his remaining three companies were going bankrupt. The economic recession left SolarCity with almost no money in its bank. SpaceX had three failed rocket launches at a cost of $100 million. No one would invest in Tesla and Elon was faced with a choice to let the company die or save it by investing all his remaining money he had collected as a payoff from selling PayPal. But the dream was still there, and Elon spent every single dollar of his remaining $40 million to save a project he believed.
Not long after that dark period, SolarCity turned into the largest solar provider in the US. Space X became the first private company to launch and return a spacecraft from orbit with success, and the first private company to send a cargo payload to the International Space Station. And Elon’s move to invest every single last dime from his pocket to Tesla Inc., moved other employees, companies, and even the US government to invest in Tesla Inc., and now the company is a success.
Elon’s goal was to change the world and humanity and still is. He is now working on a project called Neuralink with the purpose to merge biological with digital intelligence. This project focuses on creating devices that can be implanted in the human brain and could potentially help human beings merge with software and keep pace with advancements in artificial intelligence that is said to reach the levels of the human intelligence by 2029, and go on to exceed it. How far will Elon go? I don’t know. Is there a limit to imagination and dreams?
. . .
Masters and those who display a high level of creative energy are simply people who manage to retain a sizable portion of their childhood spirit despite the pressures and demands of adulthood. This spirit manifests itself in their work and in their ways of thinking. Children are naturally creative. They actively transform everything around them, play with ideas and circumstances, and surprise us with the novel things they say or do.
— Robert Greene, Mastery
I talked before in detail about the superpower of imagination. In this post, I will touch upon the application of imagination which is creativity. But what is the source for both superpowers? Perhaps the answer is child naïveté.
People said Walt’s actions and dreams were childish. Mark a 22-year-old kid, an impostor at the time, rejected an offer of $1 billion which is something nobody else in his age could ever do. Elon launches one extreme and crazy project after another. These men’s actions and dreams are by society’s standards stupid, immature, absurd, inconsistent with the norm, and they are not ideal. But these actions and dreams are products of their minds, desires, and clarity of vision. Products of their unsatisfied hunger.
Walt was, and Mark and Elon are all visionaries and dreamers seduced by a childish perspective and naiveté. If it wasn’t for immaturity and stubbornness, a childlike spirit hungry to learn by disregarding failure, ready to fall and get up and try again, and if it wasn’t for passion, enthusiasm, and love, the whole world should have been different today.
But only visionaries can see something new or a whole new world other people can’t see and interpret such a reality. What is transparent to visionaries is an unknown possibility for people with fixed mindsets that don’t want to challenge their assumptions and what they already know to be true. Adults with an adult spirit are blind to what is different and unknown because as they get older, their minds get older too, and become cynical and adopt a sense of superiority. And these adults confuse that sense with power, control, and stability, even with perfection, because no smart person should ever change an ideology or a reality that is already perfect. Though in reality, that sense of superiority is just a compromise as in a perfect world there are no problems to solve, thus no opportunities to play.
Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.
— Pablo Picasso
Walt had, and Mark and Elon have the right idea about how life should be. Life is not a compromise. It’s a huge playground in which children are waiting for their turn to play, not a nursery home for old people waiting for their turn to die. Only children are stupid and naive enough to go against the strong winds of life. Now, who’s afraid of the big bad wolf?
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CALL TO ACTION
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