“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them” – Walt Disney.
Whenever you think about great individuals who started from very humble beginnings and achieved extraordinary success, who comes to your mind? For me, Walt Disney springs to my mind first.
Walt Disney was a remarkable creative entrepreneur, animator, voice actor and film producer. He was the recipient of 22 Academy Awards and was nominated 59 times for producing iconic cartoons and animated films that we all love and enjoy even today, including Mickey Mouse.
A pioneer of the American animation industry, Disney founded the multi-billion-dollar Walt Disney Company that consists of various associated film production and distribution companies, cable channels, and television stations and networks. He even founded amusement parks for families to enjoy.
Disney’s journey to the top wasn’t as smooth sailing as many people imagine, though. Like many of us, he experienced many challenges along the way and he had to overcome big obstacles to succeed. Here are some facts about Walt Disney that most people don’t know but should.
1. He wasn’t born rich at all.
You might be tempted to think that Walt Disney achieved all he did because he came from a well-off family. He didn’t. For most of his childhood, Disney’s parents had to move the family across different states looking for work and economic security.Advertising
At the age of 19, Disney started drawing cartoons of the creatures from his childhood for sale. But, he got so little money to pay the rent, often being forced to live with friends and go without food.
That Disney rose from this humble background to become a household name is quite inspiring. It demonstrates that you don’t have to be born rich to make your own success.
2. He was told that he “lacked creativity”.
Hard to believe, but Walt Disney – the creative genius behind the Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Pluto and many other classic cartoon characters – was written off as lacking in creativity and artistry. When Disney pitched newspaper companies to get his cartoons published, they shut him down saying he “lacked artistic integrity,” But, though rejected, he kept going. He did not stop pitching his ideas.
People will criticize and even write you off for pursuing your dreams, but keep going. No one knows you better than you know yourself. No one knows your innermost dreams better than you. Listen to your heart and pursue your dreams relentlessly like Disney. It might not be easy, but it will be worth it in the end.
3. He failed many times (apparently more than 300 times).
Most people won’t even put 100 attempts toward their dream let alone fail 300 times. But Walt Disney failed over 300, including the heartbreaking period when his first studio that focused on animation called Laugh-O-Gram went bankrupt and shut down. Each time he failed, he learnt his lesson and tried again. When you believe in your dream as much as Disney did, even repeat failure cannot keep you from ultimate success.Advertising
Rather than focusing on the past, focus instead on the future achievements you want. “When you believe a thing, believe it all the way, implicitly and unquestionably,” Disney said.
4. He spent his Saturdays with his two daughters.
Although Walt Disney was an incredibly busy man, he always put family first. And he adored his two daughters, Diane and Sharon Disney. On Saturdays he would always take the girls out for the day, sit and eat peanuts, while watching his girls on the carousel. It was on one such trip that the idea occurred to him that there should be an amusement park for families to enjoy together.
In July 1955, Disney hosted the world premiere of his new amusement park in California, the legendary Disneyland. Disney said on Disneyland’s opening day that he hoped the park will be “a joy and inspiration to all the world.” It did.
5. He labored for seven years just to plan out Disneyland.
Disneyland didn’t just happen overnight. Walt Disney labored long and hard for seven years just to plan out the project. Whereas most people would simply give up after a year or so of trying, Disney was determined to create what he envisioned would be the “happiest place on earth.” Always keep the bigger picture in mind. And be inspired by the greater good for all. As Disney said, “If you can dream it, you can do it.”
6. He dropped out of high school to pursue his dream—animation.
Although education was extremely important to Walt Disney, which explains why he helped create the California Institute of the Arts, he dropped out of high school to pursue his true passion, animation. Disney decided to only pursue work he loved.
Sometimes we have to weigh our options, circumstances carefully and make bold decisions that will better align us with our truest passion and goals. “A person should set his goals as early as he can and devote all his energy and talent to getting there. With enough effort, he may achieve it. Or he may find something that is even more rewarding,” Disney said. And just because you don’t have a formal education, doesn’t mean you cannot reach your dreams. You can.
7. He worked other jobs to fund his passion.
Disney went through a series of odd jobs, including working a summer job selling snacks and newspapers to travelers at a Kansas City railroad that his uncle worked, becoming an ambulance driver in the army during World War I, and taking up a comic artist job in a local newspaper. Whatever money he made, he directed it back to his main love–animation.
“The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing,” he said. Don’t be afraid of humble beginnings. You have to start from somewhere. Remember, great oaks grow from tiny seeds.
8. He was “scared to death” to introduce Disneyland on television.
Walt Disney admitted to being “scared to death” when he had to face the camera to introduce episodes of the “Disneyland” television series. But, he went through with it anyway. He never quit in the face of fear; he pushed forward despite of it.Advertising
Achievers give it a go even when it scares them. They muster courage to introduce their work to the world and do whatever else it takes to succeed–even if it means going against conformity. Don’t let fear stop you from doing what you have to do to make your dreams come true. Just do your best work and keep improving on what your best is every day. You’ll be fine.
9. He almost didn’t finish the studio production of Snow White.
When Walt Disney first started to work on the legendary “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves” film, his wife and brother tried to convince him to give it up because of the daunting task it involved. The idea of a technicolor, fully–animated, feature–length film had never been done before. The Snow White project was even dubbed “Disney’s Folly” by industry professionals. And halfway through production Disney ran out of money to continue the work.
Most people in this situation would just quit and get whatever they can out of what’s left. Disney persevered. He traveled around and showed clips of the raw film to producers in hopes of them funding his project. He even mortgaged his own house to raise additional funds to create the film. In the end this hustle was what enabled him to finish the classic Snow White film and save his studio.
Never let challenges and naysayers stop you. Be willing to work hard; to stretch yourself; to experiment with new things and produce the very best you can. The results will be worth it in the end.
10. He reaped the rewards of all his hard work, perseverance and dedication.
Apart from winning worldwide acclaim throughout his career, when the Snow White film finally hit the silver screen in December 21, 1937, it brought in a then unimaginable $8 million in spite of the Depression. That’s approximately $134 million today. The film was hailed as an “authentic masterpiece” by Time magazine. And By the time Walt Disney died in December 15, 1966, at the age of 65, he had epitomized the truth of his own words that, “All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.”
Last Updated on December 2, 2019
How to Develop Mental Toughness And Stay Strong
Are you the kind of person who wants to achieve massive success in your life? Do you have the mental toughness to make that happen?
I think we can all agree that no matter your ambitions, achieving success can be difficult; and over time, the daily grind can take a toll on your physical, mental, and emotional energy.
Achievers and high performers from all walks of life face ups and downs along the path to success—they face failure, burnout, discouragement, fatigue, self-limiting beliefs, stress, and so much more.
How do some people continually strive towards their personal goals year after year while others give up on them? How do those people stay strong and persevere when there is so much stacked against them?
Studies now show that mental strength is a critical key to success. If you haven’t read Angela Duckworth’s book Grit, you should. In it, she shows that “the secret to outstanding achievement is not talent but a special blend of passion and persistence she calls ‘grit.’” In other words, mental toughness plays a significant role when it comes to achieving goals.
Sometimes, our goals wear us down and leave us feeling exhausted. Other times, our goals get difficult, and success seems impossible, so we lose hope, become discouraged, and want to quit.
At its core, mental toughness is simply the ability to stick to something when the going gets tough. People with high levels of mental toughness can push beyond these obstacles and forge a path towards success while those with lower levels of mental toughness may abandon their dreams.
Want to know the good news?
No matter who you are, what you’ve been told, or what you currently believe, you can develop the mental toughness you need to be successful.
All you need to do is learn to develop a positive mindset, focus on your why, and utilize the people around you for support.
1. Develop a Positive Mindset
If you’re going to increase your mental toughness, the first thing you have to do is focus on building a strong, positive mindset.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, the average person has 60,000 thoughts per day. Of those, 95% of those thoughts repeat each day and, on average, 80% of repeated ideas are negative.
That’s roughly 45,600 negative thoughts per day!
Carrying around these negative thoughts is like going on a hike in the mountains with a backpack full of rocks. The hike is hard enough on its own, but having extra junk weighing you down is a recipe for failure.
Sometimes, building mental toughness isn’t as much about building new strength as it is about saving your strength for the right tasks. Wouldn’t it be easier to dump the rocks out of the backpack instead of trying to get strong enough to carry the extra weight?
But how can we learn to spot those 45,600 negative thoughts and get rid of them? How can we empty our metaphorical backpack?
Well, it gets a whole lot easier if you know what you’re looking for. Some of the most prominent types of negative thoughts are self-limiting beliefs, all-or-nothing thinking, and dwelling.
Let Go of Self-Limiting Beliefs
It’s pretty hard to be mentally tough when you’re constantly beating yourself up. Self-limiting beliefs are any beliefs that hold you back in some way. Here are some examples:
“I’m not smart enough to…”
“I don’t have enough experience to…”
“I’ve tried that before, and it didn’t go well, so I must just be bad at…”
When we allow these self-limiting beliefs to flood our minds, negative self-talk runs rampant, and we crowd out our ability to think positively. We’re effectively working against ourselves.
If you want to keep your mind strong on your path to success, you have to overcome the self-limiting beliefs that are holding you back by realizing one key truth: self-limiting beliefs are thoughts, not facts.
When you recognize a self-limiting belief cropping up in your mind, quickly silence it by telling yourself that it’s not true and then back that up with some positive affirmations:
- “I am smart enough; I may just need to do some more research first.”
- “I may not have as much experience as someone else, but that’s not going to stop me from trying. I have enough experience to get started. I’ll figure the rest out on the way.”
- “Just because I failed at this last time doesn’t mean I’m going to fail this time. My past does not dictate my future.”
Get Rid of the All-or-Nothing Thinking
Another form of negative thinking that could be preventing you from building mental toughness is all-or-nothing thinking.
All-or-nothing thinking is the concept of thinking in extremes. You are either a success or a failure. Your performance was totally good or totally awful. If you’re not perfect, then you’re a failure.
But this isn’t true!
If you’re trying to lose 30 pounds and only lost 28, isn’t that still better than not losing any weight at all? I’d say so!
If you allow all-or-nothing thinking to rule your mind, you’ll be on cloud nine when you succeed, but you’ll beat yourself up when you “fail.” Acknowledging the shades of gray in between will allow you to see success more often and it will help you celebrate your smaller wins.
When you recognize an all-or-nothing thought, remember to look for the positive in the situation. What did you gain by trying? What would you have missed out on had you not tried? Could you do better if you were to try again?
Ditch the Dwelling
Self-Limiting Beliefs and All-or-Nothing Thinking can lead to a bad case of dwelling on the negative. If you want to build some mental toughness and keep your mind strong, you have to ditch the dwelling.
Every day, bad things happen to each of us, and while there’s nothing we can do to prevent that, we can control how we react to these situations.
When we dwell on our misfortunes, we waste massive amounts of energy that we could be using to achieve our goals. When this happens, we’re more likely to quit altogether.
But that doesn’t mean you’re not mentally tough; it just means you’re misusing your energy.
The next time something bad happens, it’s important to allow yourself to feel the disappointment and frustration, but work on reducing the amount of time you dwell on the situation.
Easier said than done, right? Try these:
- Call a friend or mentor and talk it through with them. Get some outside perspective on your situation.
- Time block your dwelling by allowing yourself to dwell for no more than one hour.
- Then, tell yourself to move on, that you’re human, and you’re allowed to make mistakes or experience setbacks.
- If all else fails, find a good way to distract yourself until you can calm down and reexamine things with a clear mind.
The faster you can focus on the positives and move past the problem, the quicker you can get back to achieving success in your life.
Be Patient about the Process
No matter which negative thoughts tend to run around your mind, working to replace them with positive thoughts can take time.
Learning to spot self-limiting beliefs, all-or-nothing thinking, or dwelling is one thing, but learning to quiet those thoughts is another thing entirely.
If at first you don’t succeed, don’t fret. Instead, take a deep breath and try again. As you work towards improving your mindfulness and your mental toughness, remember that you’re going to get better with time.
To make things a little easier, it helps to connect with your purpose.
2. Connect with Your Purpose
One of the most critical elements to building mental toughness and keeping a strong and focused mind is having a strong ‘why’ for everything you want to do.
If you set out to achieve a huge goal that you don’t have a ‘why’ for, you’re going to find yourself distracted, discouraged, or disengaged as soon as you experience your first setback.
Think about the last time you were working on a goal or resolution and things weren’t going well, maybe you even wanted to quit. Perhaps you thought you didn’t have enough willpower. Maybe you told yourself that you didn’t have enough discipline.
Here’s the truth: you just didn’t have a strong enough why.
Simon Sinek has been spreading his message “Start with Why” across the globe. In short, he says that:
“Your ‘why’ is the purpose, cause or belief that inspires you.”
One of the biggest drains on your mental energy is pursuing a goal or a task that you don’t have a ‘why’ for. This is when we tend to look for external motivation or question our willpower, but those aren’t the issues.
Often, we set goals because we like the idea of the goal, not the reality of the goal. Without connecting to our why, we can’t intrinsically motivate ourselves to achieve our most challenging goals.
Find Intrinsic Motivation
Intrinsic motivation is our innate desire to do something and it comes when we work towards something that satisfies ourselves above all else—not our parents or our bosses or our teachers.
Let’s say you think you want to quit smoking because you know it’s bad for you, but you really enjoy smoking. If you don’t truly want to quit smoking, it’s going to be nearly impossible, regardless of your willpower or mental toughness.
But if you want to quit smoking because you just had a baby, and you don’t want your baby growing up around smoke, then that ‘why’ is going to give you intrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation is far more powerful than sheer stubborn willpower, and it’s far easier to maintain over the long haul.
If you’re trying to develop mental toughness, connecting a why to everything you want to achieve will reduce the effort and energy it will take to achieve those things. Once you’ve found a strong why for all of your goals, you’ll find that you’ll have significantly more energy to pursue your more difficult challenges.
3. Find Strength in Unity
The final aspect of developing mental toughness is embracing the idea that you’re not in this alone. It’s a fact, anyone who’s ever achieved success in anything didn’t do so alone.
Bill Gates didn’t build Microsoft alone. Oprah didn’t build her network by herself. Steve Jobs didn’t invent the iPhone without a team. Michelle Obama didn’t implement the “Let’s Move” campaign on her own.
Behind all of these successful people were countless other people who were there offering support, mentorship, guidance, and encouragement.
If you want to develop unmatched mental toughness, you need to understand that you don’t have to go it alone. Even the toughest Navy Seals have a team backing them up.
If you want to stay strong in your endeavors, you need to build a team of supporters who will step in and back you up when it counts.
Find a Mentor or Committee of Mentors
The benefits of having a great mentor are far too many to list, but to boil it down to the basics, a mentor is someone who will help show you the path to success.
A good mentor will help you discover your greatest strengths, spot and overcome your blind spots, and work through your weaknesses.
If you’re struggling to deal with your internal negativity or with finding your purpose, talk it through with a mentor. Sometimes we lose the forest for the trees, and a mentor can help us take a step back and see the bigger picture.
Here’s how to find the right mentor for yourself: How to Find a Mentor That Will Help You Succeed
Recruit Some Cheerleaders
If you want to stay strong, it never hurts to have a group of personal cheerleaders. Unlike mentors who are going to jump in and help you address your problems, a group of cheerleaders will help keep your spirits up.
Even if you have a strong ‘why’ and a positive mindset, it’s nearly impossible to maintain a positive attitude 100% of the time. It doesn’t make you weak to need some help from time to time. Having a group of people cheering you on will make all the difference in the world.
As you work towards your goals, tell a few close friends about what you’re doing, and when things get tough, tell them about it. And when they give you the pep talk you need, don’t resist their positivity or counter it with your self-limiting beliefs or your all-or-nothing attitude.
Allow their optimism to refill your energy and use that energy to press on.
Form an Accountability Group
Cheerleaders are great, but sometimes we need someone to give us the kick we need to keep going. You might have a strong ‘why’ for running a marathon or losing 30 pounds, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy; and trying to force yourself to follow through is a sure way to tax your mental energy.
Why not save some of your mental energy by forming an accountability group?
Find a person or a few people who have similar goals, or at the very least, the need for an accountability partner. Then, form an agreement within the group to push each other every day.
Even if your goals aren’t the same, accountability partners are great for giving us the push we need when we need it most.
Regardless of which relationships you choose, sometimes we have to be able to work through things on our own. Mentors, cheerleaders, and accountability partners are a great way for us to combat our naturally negative mindsets, but occasionally we have to be able to pick ourselves back up.
4. Learn to Pick Yourself Back Up After Setbacks
Building a strong mindset and developing mental toughness isn’t easy! Anyone who’s ever achieved massive success knows that obstacles, setbacks, and failure are inevitable, and you’re no different.
As you work on your goals, you’re going to face many ups and downs, but this doesn’t mean that you don’t have mental toughness, willpower, or discipline.
We all struggle. We all fail. It’s what we decide to do after we fail that truly counts.
When you find yourself in a low spot, ask yourself these questions:
- “Am I being too hard on myself?”
- “Are negative thoughts such as Self-Limiting Beliefs or All-or-Nothing Thinking distorting my view?”
- “What’s the positive side of this setback/obstacle/failure?”
- “Why was this goal important to me? What was my purpose?”
- “Is this goal still important to me? Do I still have a ‘why’?”
- “Who can I ask for help? Who can mentor me or cheer me on? Who can help hold me accountable?”
Asking yourself these questions is a great way to check in on your mindset. When we get lost in negative thinking or lose connection to our purpose, it’s far too easy to become discouraged. When we feel discouraged, we start feeling weak, maybe even a little hopeless.
Also, this article provides some useful tips to help you get back on track: How to Deal with Failure and Pick Yourself Back Up
Tying it All Together
Are you still with me? I know I’ve thrown a lot at you, from developing a positive mindset and combatting your internal voice to connecting with purpose and building a committee of mentors. It’s a lot to take it!
But here’s the bottom line:
A crucial part of developing mental toughness is learning to recognize these tendencies and taking action to correct them early on. Developing mental toughness is not about eliminating weakness, but learning how to deal with it and overcome it.
No one is perfect, but when we focus on the right things, we can develop a mental toughness worthy of life’s biggest challenges.
More About Mental Strength
- 5 Ways to Help Yourself Advance Your Mental Strength
- 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do
- Why It’s Okay to Hit the Wall and How to Overcome It Fast
- What Is Resilience and Why Is It Important?
Featured photo credit: Zulmaury Saavedra via unsplash.com
|||^||Cleveland Clinic: Don’t Believe Everything You Think|
|||^||Simon Sinek: Imagine a world in which the vast majority of us wake up inspired, feel safe at work and return home fulfilled at the end of the day.|