A Good, Hard Failure

“I think it’s important to have a good, hard failure when you’re young. I learned a lot out of that.” -Walt Disney 

In a previous post, I wrote about composer and Disney legend Richard Sherman. If you don’t know his name, you know the iconic songs he and his brother have written. I really love his work, so I wrote him a letter (I think it’s easy to not express our admiration because of a fear of rejection or looking silly – I’m trying to change that about myself).    

I’m so happy to report that he responded! He sent back these two photos, and I’m still ecstatic about it!   


A big part of what I love about Disney projects, from theme parks to movies, is the heart behind everything. All things Disney are the result of a collaboration between people who used their passions to make people a little bit happier. People like the Sherman brothers and Walt Disney boldly pursued their passions, even in the face of setbacks and adversity. As a result, everyone can sing a song written by the Sherman brothers, and Walt Disney impacted our culture in a massive way. They did what they loved, even if it seemed impossible or impractical, and their incredible work lives on as a result. 

At 22, Walt Disney was fired from a newspaper because he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas”. Walt was flat broke twice in his life. He started his own animation studio which went bankrupt. Later, he lost his animators and the rights to his successful character, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. He persevered because he knew what he loved and fearlessly picked himself up every time he faced a “good, hard failure”. Abraham Lincoln ran for public office and lost many times before becoming the president. Thomas Edison spent a fortune on many ideas that didn’t work and still said, “I have not failed 10,000 times—I’ve successfully found 10,000 ways that will not work.” 

Walt created Mickey Mouse on the train ride home after losing Oswald and his animators. Passion and the ability to get up again after failures seems to be a critical trait in successful people. At 22, I’m so inspired by that incredible sense of courage and determination. I’m trying to view setbacks as setups and learn that falling down is a normal part of learning to walk. 

How many times do you get up again after falling? 


One Comment

  1. Love this!
    Your setbacks are, indeed, merely successful attempts to discover what won’t work. Each one brings you closer to what will work for you!

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