Walt Disney – A success Story

The film maker and theme park creator Walt Disney once stated:

“The story-man must see clearly in his own mind how every piece of business in a story will be put. He should feel every expression, every reaction. He should get far enough away from his story to take a second look at it…to see whether there is any dead phase…to see whether the personalities are going to be interesting and appealing to the audience. He should also try to see that the things that his characters are doing are of an interesting nature.”

Walt Disney’s ability to connect his innovative creativity with successful business strategy and popular appeal certainly qualifies him as a genius in the field of entertainment. In a way, Disney’s chosen medium of expression, the animated film, characterises the fundamental process of all genius: the ability to take something that exists in the imagination only and forge it into a physical existence that directly influences the experience of others in a positive way.

The simple yet worldwide appeal of Disney’s characters, animated films, live action features and amusement parks demonstrate a unique ability to grasp, synthesise and simplify very basic yet quite sophisticated principles. Disney was also responsible for a number of important technical and organisational innovations in the fields of animation and film-making in general.

It is clear that one of the major elements of Disney’s unique genius was his ability to explore something from a number of different perceptual positions. As one of his close associates pointed out:

“…there were actually three different Walts: the dreamer, the realist, and the spoiler. You never knew which one was coming into your meeting.”

Robert Dilts of the NLP University in California, worked with Disney, and converted this strategy into something useful and powerful, which we can all use to realise our dreams.

Below is an abbreviated form of the strategy that you can use which involves the three different points of view of Dreamer, Realist and Critic (Spoiler).

Select the problem you are going to deal with – it can be as difficult as you like. Do not think about it yet. Choose three places in front of you that you can physically step into. One for your Dreamer, one for your Realist and one for your Critic


The Dreamer

Everything you see around you is the result of somebody’s dream. Once there were no chairs, no windows, no glass, no buildings – until somebody dreamed up the idea, and carried it through. People dream supposedly impossible things (for example, Leonardo da Vinci dreamed about helicopters in the 15th century) and other people may take it upon themselves to ridicule these dreams – but that is their problem!

When you have dreamed your ultimate dream, step out of that space, and choose another space.

The Realist

In the realist’s space, you are going to become the logistics expert. What needs to be done in order to achieve this dream? What resources will you need to provide? What modifications need to be made to the dream, in order to make it achievable?

In this space, you will be detached from the dream and have your feet firmly on the ground. You are dealing with the practical questions here.

When you have worked out the plan of how to achieve each step and made all the necessary modifications to the dream, step out of the realist’s space and move to the critic’s space (an equal distance from the dreamer and the realist – in other words, the critic’s space forms the third angle of an equilateral triangle)

The Critic

The critic has a very important job. In this space you are there to make sure you don’t make a complete fool of yourself; lose all your money; get sent to prison, and so on. The critic’s advice is vital; the critic’s job is to keep you safe.

Most of us try to ignore our critic, thinking of him/her as a nit-picking misery-guts – which he or she may well become if ignored. Whatever you say or do, your critic will persist in trying to keep you safe, so it would seem sensible to pay attention in the first place!

The critic’s job is to think up everything that can possibly go wrong with your master plan (and every possible bad side effect) so that you can be prepared for anything.

In critic mode you are detached from the dream but, most importantly, it is the dream you are criticising, not the dreamer.

Listen carefully to everything that comes up, and be prepared to modify the dream still further.

Now continue to step through each of the three spaces until your final plan fits each one.