A Fool and His Money? (Diet for Dreamers)

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All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them. —Walt Disney

Many of us are familiar with the story: a young Walt Disney was fired from his newspaper job because he “lacked imagination”! Learning that one of the world’s most creative and successful entrepreneurs struggled through his own share of rejection, is incredibly inspiring for the rest of us wannabes. Unfortunately, Uncle Walt never worked for a newspaper. He did work for an ad agency, however; only he was never fired from the company.

It’s impossible to find a reliable source for this fanciful anecdote. Like most urban legends, someone somewhere got the facts wrong, and we’ve been repeating the “story” ever since. But it’s all good. Disney did have his share of misfortunes, and he did face many naysayers in the course of achieving his dreams — including two in his own family!

One obstacle Walt Disney dealt with repeatedly was financing. In the early 1950s, when Disney announced his plans to construct a 160-acre theme park in California, there were no investors lining up to help foot the bill — which ultimately grew to $17 million. Disney was turned down by so many banks that he finally devised an alternate means of funding the project: he created a weekly anthology show called Disneyland, which he gave to the fledgling American Broadcasting Network. ABC was ranked third behind CBS and NBC, so the “alphabet network” benefited greatly from airing the popular show. In return, ABC joined with Western Publishing (which had gotten the rights to publish comics and activity books based on Disney characters) in bankrolling Disney’s dream world.

Disneyland opened in 1955 and immediately became one of the chief destinations of vacationers from across the globe. There’s an ancient proverb that “a fool and his money are soon parted,” but that certainly wasn’t the case with Walt Disney. He may have had the most grandiose dreams, but he was no fool — contrary to what his critics thought.

Disney hadn’t always been the best business manager, though. Based on the financial success of his earliest cartoons, he and his brother Roy had purchased their own animation studio, Laugh-O-Gram, in 1922. Then Disney recruited the best animators he could find, paying each of them a salary far more generous than Disney could balance against his studio’s profits. Within months, Laugh-O-Gram went bankrupt.

Further defeats lay ahead of Disney. His first breakout cartoon character was Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, a comical and “exceptionally clever” creation that was not only a hit at the movies, but which also made beaucoup bucks in merchandising. But Uncle Walt saw very little of the profits; he’d signed a contract with Universal Pictures which gave the studio complete ownership. Eventually Universal hired away most of Disney’s animators and then took over the production end of the Oswald cartoons. Universal had gotten a “Lucky Rabbit.” Walt had gotten the boot!

Such failed business ventures don’t exactly bolster confidence in one’s ability to succeed. Which is why the creator’s next project was universally greeted with dismay. Uncle Walt wanted to do something that had never been attempted before; he wanted to produce a feature-length animated movie — based on the children’s fairy tale, Snow White. He also wanted realistically rendered human characters and elaborate special effects. To create his unorthodox masterpiece, Disney would need to hire an art professor to train his animators in a more realistic style of design; and the studio would need to experiment with advanced processes and, hence, purchase all new equipment, such as a multiplane camera.

When the film industry learned of the project, they jokingly dubbed it “Disney’s Folly,” confident that such a movie couldn’t be made and that attempting such an audacious feat would ruin Disney Studios. And it almost did. The production, which commenced in early 1934, took the better part of three years, and before the movie was finished the studio did indeed run out of money. In order to finance the remaining work, Uncle Walt screened a rough cut of the film to a group of investors who applauded it.

Shirley Temple presents “Uncle Walt” with an Oscar for Snow White — with 7 mini statures to represent the dwarves!

Meanwhile, Disney’s brother Roy begged the creator not to gamble with the studio’s future. And even Disney’s wife pleaded with him to drop the project. But Disney refused to give up on his dream. He also refused to let his past mistakes define him, or to listen to well-intentioned advice from people who couldn’t catch the vision. Then again, perhaps he was just stubborn.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarves was the most successful movie of 1938. During its initial run, the film earned $8,000,000 — which today is roughly equivalent to $135 million. Disney was often, precariously, parted from his money, but he was no fool. Just a dreamer.

Don’t allow yourself to be defined by past failures. Dream big. Follow your instincts and the leading of the Lord. “You will hear a voice behind you saying, “This is the way. Follow it, whether it turns to the right or to the left.” (Isaiah 30:21 GW)

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Good Things Come to Those Who Wait (Diet for Dreamers)

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Recording artist John Waller once stated, “Each person has his or her own challenges, life issues, and difficulties and if we could pull back the curtain and see backstage into the real lives of each person, you would see a more accurate picture. You would see how people really get through their daily lives, the decisions they make, and even the why behind the choices they make. Ultimately, when everything is stripped away, it comes down to FAITH.”

We’ve frequently mentioned the importance of faith in the life of the dreamer, the goal seeker and, really, anyone who wants the best possible future. Often the road to reaching our desired goals is long and riddled with the potholes of adversity. Faith is the premium fuel that ensures we don’t “run out of gas” long before we finish our journey in life.

Having faith in something (or someone) means putting your complete trust in it. People almost always let you down — they are, after all, only human — but God never fails. So, who are you trusting with your future and well-being?  Are you entrusting your dreams and goals to the God of the Universe?

Having faith that God will enable us to realize our hopes and dreams means we accept their fulfillment as a “done deal.” And although trusting God seems simple enough, there’s actually a bit more to it.

Having faith sounds easy — until we don’t see anything happening. Months and even years can go by, with nothing to indicate that we’re any closer to reaching our dreams. For a man or woman of real faith, this is where the rubber meets the road.

As A.W. Tozer points out, there is active (genuine) faith and passive faith: “True faith is not passive but active. It requires that we meet certain conditions, that we allow the teachings of Christ to dominate our total lives from the moment we believe.” (In the Dwelling Place of God) In other words, if our faith is genuine, we’ll LIVE LIKE WE BELIEVE IT! We’ll also be able to wait patiently for God’s promises, whether His promises are the fulfillment of a dream, the salvation of a loved one, or the answer to some other prayer.

John Waller waited 17 years for God to fulfill his dream of writing and performing contemporary Christian music. Waller, a Georgia native, started as the frontman for the musical group According to John. All the right people started noticing his talent, and he seemed to be on his way. But then the group disbanded. Waller’s dream was suddenly put on hold — indefinitely, for all he knew.

Waller had to wait in faith…a very long time. Waiting takes faith — real faith — and like faith, waiting is active and never passive. Passive waiting (in passive faith) is just marking the days like a prisoner in a cell: feeling down, whining, wanting the dream to come true while acting like you’re not really sure if it will.

Active waiting (in active faith) means staying positive, being thankful, always doing the right thing, and generally being about God’s daily “business.” After all, if you were waiting to close on a commercial business deal, would you just sit and think about that one deal — or would you be out taking care of your existing business interests?

Waller chose to be active while he waited. He and his wife moved to Colorado and helped launch Southlink Church. Although Waller had put his  dream of being a recording artist on hold, he spent some of his time writing songs for worship services in the new church. “Suddenly” — in God’s perfect timing — Waller found his way back on the radar of influential people. Provident Music Group signed Waller to a contract, and then introduced the talented singer/songwriter to a wider audience that led to a national platform for his music. Waller went on to write and perform the song “While I’m Waiting”  in the movie Fireproof, the most popular independent film of 2008.

“God always provides,” Waller once stated. “He always comes through and one of the biggest things I’ve learned is that God’s plan for each one our lives is not going to look like someone else’s. …God has a unique plan for me. I’ve had to learn to not compare myself to someone else and it’s hard not to do that especially in this industry. You want to measure your success by what you see others doing. …I’ve had to let that go and know that I am successful … by God’s standard and not by man.”

Waiting on a dream? Trust in God’s perfect timing, and focus on doing His will. Jesus said, Occupy till I come.” (Luke 19:13 King James) Then answers to your prayers will come. In fact, good things come to those who wait (actively)!

“He called ten servants of his, and gave them [resources] and told them, ‘Conduct business until I come.'” (Luke 19:13 World English Bible)

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