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Walt Disney, Michael Jordan, and You: What’s the Common Denominator?

Walt Disney, Michael Jordan, and You: What’s the Common Denominator?

By Lucas Counts

Where there is a struggle, there is also a glimmer of hope. 

Walt Disney, who achieved things most people never deemed possible, saw his first company go bankrupt, lost the rights to a successful cartoon character, and saw MGM Studios reject his original idea for Mickey Mouse because they believed it would “terrify women.” 

Despite all of these setbacks, he had the following to say:

“You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.” 

What? I don’t want to experience a kick in the teeth from life. None of us do. But seeing the failures and struggles in our lives as opportunities can completely shift our mindset moving forward from loss to success.

Flip the Script

When we struggle with our finances, relationships, education, and career, and choose to view that encounter as a failure, we lose. The game is over, and we have lost. 

That’s it.

But — and this is a huge but — we can completely flip the script of finding loss in a shortcoming on its head. Here’s a step-by-step guide for how.

  • First, take responsibility. Owning your failure and/or struggle is a huge sign of maturity and will take you far in a world filled with others who will make excuses. When you own your setbacks, you own your ability to grow and learn, succeeding as a result.
  • Second, take a break and set a new goal. It’s totally okay to pause after failing in sports, the classroom, or professionally. This can help you gain perspective on what went well, what didn’t, and what you can learn both as a performer (e.g. writing, music, sales) and as a person (e.g. values, social skills, empathy) to avoid a future setback.
  • Third, do not dwell on the mistake. Taking action to correct your error and address it in a mature manner helps us to get motivated and achieve success faster than when we sit around beating ourselves up and lingering on what went wrong.

The Takeaway

We can give up and go home when we face failure, rejection, and pain, but we can alternatively see the lessons we learn from struggling for what they are. 

If failing and losing didn’t hurt the way it does, we would never feel the urge to work for anything better, and the sweet nectar of overcoming struggles and winning would be tasteless. Michael Jordan got cut from his high school basketball team, Bill Gates’ first company went out of business, and we’ve all done a little (or a lot) worse on a class project or quiz than we wanted to.

But, that’s not the end. Jordan went on to win six NBA championships. Bill Gates founded Microsoft, a tech behemoth, and became the richest person in the world. And you can achieve heights you never thought possible if you acknowledge your failures, learn from them, and keep going at this game called life. 

This is not the time or day to give up, because you can achieve anything!

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