My Conversations with Walt Disney About Life, Success and the Power of Imagination

Walt Disney

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


An Ordinary Man with an Extraordinary Dream

Walt Disney was one of those extraordinary individuals whose imagination has literally transformed the world. He created a cartoon character mouse, called him Mickey Mouse and turned him into an instant celebrity over night. This one cartoon character soon turned Walt’s business into one of the most powerful and influential entertainment companies on the planet.

Having created a media conglomerate, Walt Disney set out on another dream that almost nobody believed could be achieved. He wanted to create a place; a place where he could make other people’s dreams come true — a land of imagination and fantasy that would bring joy to millions around the world. It would become his greatest challenge and life’s work, teaching him lessons about success, achievement, creativity, innovation, adversity and much, much more. And it’s these lessons that he will be sharing with us today.

What follows is a transcript of a hypothetical conversation I had with Walt Disney. I’ve taken Walt’s words statements that have been commonly attributed to Walt Disney, and turned them into a dialogue about all aspects of success, achievement, creativity and much, much more as they relate to our modern era. The interview provides many tremendous insights into the mind of this incredibly individual.

Please keep in mind that many of these quotes are written word-for-word as Walt Disney spoke them. However, at times I have added additional words in order to spark further discussion and linkages between topics.

As you read through this transcript I’m confident you will discover the qualities, traits, attitudes, values, and beliefs that took an ordinary man with a dream, and turned him into a creative business tycoon who transformed the world through the use of his imagination and resolute determination to make his vision a reality. Moreover, I hope you find inspiration in Walt’s words to help you with your life’s endeavors.


Conversations with Walt Disney

I’ve broken down this interview into specific topics that Walt Disney has been famously quoted on. These topics include:

  • Dreams
  • Creativity
  • Imagination
  • Curiosity
  • Adversity
  • Success

Let us now invite Walt Disney into the studio and pick his brain about life, living and dreaming.


Walt Disney on Dreams

Adam: You have achieved a great many things over the course of your life. In fact, most people would consider your achievements quite extraordinary. You overcame incredible odds and turned a dream you held in your imagination into reality. Can you tell use how you managed to achieve such a feat?

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

Adam: In other words, what you’re saying is that if you can dream it, you can do it. 🙂 Is that correct?

Disney: Yes, if you can dream it, you can do it. Somehow I can’t believe there are any heights that can’t be scaled by a man who knows the secret of making dreams come true. This special secret, it seems to me, can be summarized in four C’s. They are curiosity, confidence, courage, and constancy, and the greatest of these is confidence. When you believe a thing, believe it all the way, implicitly and unquestionably.

Adam: Of course, believing in something certainly helps. But how does this belief translate into achieving something that others thought was impossible to do. There were certainly a lot of naysayers in your life.

Disney: Yes (with a smirk), it’s kind of fun to do the impossible. If you dream it, you can do it. Fantasy and reality often overlap, and within this lies the hidden key to success.

Adam: I don’t quite understand.

Disney: The era we are living in today is a dream of coming true. However, many people out there still don’t realize this.

Adam: Yes, this is certainly an age of opportunity. With technology moving forward and evolving so quickly, and things changing around us rapidly, there are certainly a lot of opportunities we can take advantage of that could help us make our dreams come true. However, I think that the opportunities are far more accessible to the younger generation, and especially to kids who are “possibility-thinkers”.

Disney: Adam, why do we have to grow up? I know more adults who have the children’s approach to life… They are not afraid to be delighted with simple pleasure, and they have a degree of contentment with what life has brought — sometimes it isn’t much either.


Walt Disney on Creativity, Imagination and Curiosity

Adam: Yes, I guess that’s very true. We must be child-like to a certain degree if we desire to tap into our imaginations and take advantage of the opportunities that come our way. This is especially important in this rapidly changing social environment we live in.

Disney: Certainly, every child is born blessed with a vivid imagination. But just as muscles grow flabby with disuse, so the bright imagination of a child pales in later years if he ceases to exercise it.

Adam: Yes, that’s very true. As the saying goes: if you don’t use it, you will lose it. But how can we keep our imaginations strong? How can we as adults find what we lost so long ago?

Disney: Adam, there is more treasure in books than in all the pirates’ loot on Treasure Island and at the bottom of the Spanish Main… and best of all, you can enjoy these riches every day of your life. That is how you strengthen your imagination.

Adam: That’s very interesting. Books can certainly spark our imaginations, which can lead to new insights and creative ideas. I’m personally an avid proponent of visual thinking. I feel that visual thinking is the key that can ignite incredible innovation. In fact, I’m in the process of putting together a visual thinking framework that will hopefully assist with this process. Do you have any thoughts about visual thinking and how it can be used to help innovate in this day-and-age?

Disney: Of all the inventions for mass communication, pictures still speak the most universally understood language. I certainly believe in being an innovator. And pictures can certainly help in that regard.

Adam: What do you feel is the key to innovation these days?

Disney: When you’re curious, you find lots of interesting things to do. I personally can never stand still. I must explore and experiment. I am never satisfied with my work. I even resent the limitations of my own imagination.


Walt Disney on Adversity and Problems

Adam: I suspect that a lifetime of experimenting has led to a great deal of adversity. How have you personally dealt with the obstacles and challenges that life has thrown your way?

Disney: All the adversity I’ve had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles, have strengthened me… You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.

Adam: It must however be very difficult at times facing all these problems. How do you find the strength to keep persevering?

Disney: We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.

Adam: That’s an awesome way to look at life. It’s obviously something you have perfected over time. However, it’s certainly something that many people struggle to grasp every single day of their lives. What advice could you give to someone who is struggling to overcome adversity?

Disney: An example from my own life is that we could ill afford to rest on our laurels, even to pause in retrospect. Times and conditions change so rapidly that we must keep our aim constantly focused on the future. We did it with Disneyland, in the knowledge that most of the people I talked to thought it would be a financial disaster — closed and forgotten within the first year.

Adam: Okay, so what you’re saying is that we must keep our gaze fixed on the future and just keep moving forward every single day. By keeping our eyes on the target, we will eventually get there. However, I guess it’s important that we never lose sight of that destination, otherwise we might end up walking in the wrong direction.

I wanted to ask you whether the obstacles and adversity you’ve faced has helped or hindered you along your journey?

Disney: I have been up against tough competition all my life. I wouldn’t know how to get along without it.

Adam: However, along your journey you must have faced very tough challenges and problems that could very well have taken you off-track. Can you give us a little insight into one of these problems?

Disney: Money. I’d say it’s been my biggest problem all my life. It takes a lot of money to make these dreams come true. However, I always look at the optimistic side of life, but I am realistic enough to know that life is a complex matter.

Adam: It seems to me as though you thrive on solving problems.

Disney: Yes, my fun is working on a project and solving problems.


Walt Disney on Success and Achievement

Adam: That’s very interesting. Many people would not see problems as being fun. Instead they see problems as these great big gorillas standing in front of them, preventing them from achieving their dreams. What advice would you give people in such instances? Where and how should they get started?

Disney: The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing. The fun is in always building something. After it’s built, you play with it awhile and then you’re through. You see, we never do the same thing twice around here. We’re always opening up new doors. I’ve always been bored with just making money. I’ve wanted to do things; I wanted to build things, to get something going. However, you don’t build it for yourself. You know what the people want and you build it for them.

Adam: I guess it’s all about coming from a value perspective. Look at ways you can give value to others, and everything else will sort of take care of itself. Maybe that’s the secret to success.

Disney: The key to success comes back to confidence. When we consider a project, we really study it — not just the surface idea, but everything about it. And when we go into that new project, we believe in it all the way. We have confidence in our ability to do it right. And we work hard to do the best possible job.

Adam: So in the end, it’s all about believing in yourself and working hard to produce value for others. Would that be correct?

Disney: Yes, but there is one more element. You can design and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality. Of all the things I’ve done, the most vital is coordinating those who work with me and aiming their efforts at a certain goal.

Adam: That makes a lot of sense. It’s all about leveraging your time, energy and effort. I guess that’s the most efficient path towards attaining financial freedom.

Disney: Yes, however, you reach a point where you don’t work for money. Some people worship money as something you’ve got to have piled up in a big pile somewhere. I’ve only thought about money in one way, and that is to do something with it. I don’t think there’s a thing I own that I will ever get the benefit of, except through doing things with it.

Adam: Hmm, I never really saw it that way. But it makes a lot of sense. What’s the point of keeping all this money lying around in a bank somewhere just wasting away when you could do something valuable with it that could help you make your mark in the world. I guess a lot of great ideas go to waste because people are simply not willing to take a chance on their own imaginations. What advice could you give to someone who is a little hesitant?

Disney: Get a good idea and stay with it. Do it, and work it until it’s done, and done right.

Adam: I’m just wondering though, how one would come up with a good idea in the first place.

Disney: Whenever I go on a ride (at Disneyland), I’m always thinking of what’s wrong with the thing and how it can be improved. That is how I generate some of my best ideas.

Adam: You mentioned earlier that ideas can also be acquired through books.

Disney: Yes, however there are fashions in reading, even in thinking. You don’t have to follow them unless you want to. On the other hand, watch out. Don’t stick too closely to your favorite subject. That would keep you from adventuring into other fields. It’s silly to build a wall around your interests.

Adam: That’s a very valuable insight. Thank you for sharing that. We definitely need to stretch ourselves on a daily basis and venture into new areas. Only in this way can we gain the necessary experience and perspective to generate better ideas.

Disney: Also, the more you like yourself, the less you are like anyone else, which makes you unique. 😉

Adam: Yes, and that again comes back to confidence that we’ve spoken about several times throughout our discussion. We must develop that confidence within ourselves in order to have the courage to step outside our comfort zones and to venture into new territories, which will likewise help us to generate new and better ideas.

These are absolutely amazing insights. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and experience with us today.

Before I let you go, I do however have one final question. This is a very important question, and in fact it’s a question I asked Albert Einstein during our interview. This is a question that a lot of male listeners are dying to know the answer to. The question is: What is the secret to understanding women?

Disney: I love Mickey Mouse more than any woman I have ever known. And that’s all there is to know.


How to Use this iQuote Matrix

The above conversation with Walt Disney provides an overview of the iQuote Matrix (found top of this post) that you can download for free and use as a reference wall poster. It’s an ideal reference tool for those wanting to model Walt’s psychology or simply for those interested to learn more about this great man.

This iQuote Matrix is designed with three purposes in mind:

  • Firstly, the quotations are designed to provide you with insights into Walt Disney’s personality, qualities, mindset, belief systems and attitude.
  • Secondly, the power words extending from the middle branches are designed to pinpoint key qualities and behaviors that distinguished Walt Disney.
  • Thirdly, key questions and statements extending from the quotations are designed to help you mimic Walt Disney’s thinking style and approach to life.

Time to Assimilate these Concepts

Walt Disney

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Adam is a life coach, mind mapper, doodler and visual thinker. He founded IQ Matrix in 2009 and has created over 350 self-growth mind maps. He also has a Free 40 Day How to Doodle Course where he teaches how to doodle using simple daily lessons. Read more about Adam’s story, and how he created the concept for IQ Matrix. Feel free to also get in touch and send Adam a message here.