Gordon Mercer and Marcia Mercer Global Digital Post

Walt Disney's Law of Doing the Impossible

In an Age of Impossibilities: Walt Disney's Law of Doing the Impossible is Critical


Franklin, NC -- (ReleaseWire) -- 04/21/2010 -- “If you can dream it, you can do it. It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.” This quote is by Walt Disney (1901-1966). He was an animator, theme park designer, film director, producer, and business leader. In an age of great challenges, we need to understand Walt Disney’s law of doing the impossible, which involves doing the impossible through following your dream, using your creativity and overcoming impossible situations with imaginative solutions. This was covered recently in our column in the Franklin Press in Franklin, North Carolina. We remember Walt Disney’s many successful productions: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Mickey Mouse, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Fantasia, Pinocchio, Peter Pan, and many others. One of his greatest dreams was the opening of Disneyland in 1957 in California. What child or adult has not been impacted by his creativity? He made it seem easy, but behind the scenes were events that would have destroyed those without a determined dream.

Disney’s first animation company, Laugh–O-Gram, went bankrupt and he lost all his employees. In another effort, members of his talented staff were scooped up and hired by Charles Mintz, who also gained control of Disney’s early characters. These were huge blows for Disney but his creativity and dreams could not be repressed. Soon Mickey Mouse was born and became one of the world’s most popular cartoon characters, along with Pluto, Goofy and Donald Duck. In part because of the extravagance of the budget, Snow White was called, ‘Disney’s folly.’ Everyone, including Disney’s wife and partner Roy Disney, tried to talk him out of the project. Snow White won several Oscars and became an overwhelming success.

How do we know our dream is real? If a dream nags us, if it bothers us when we don’t do it, if we can’t get it out of our heads; it needs a second look. Disney had successful people telling him Snow White was impossible. But to quote Cinderella, “impossible things are happening everyday!”

Wilford Corbin is a compelling example of a dream that changed lives. Mr. Corbin left Macon County in 1955 with his wife, Virginia and young son, Tommy for the remote village of Wales, Alaska at the Bearing Strait. Mr. Corbin taught school in the Eskimo village and later become assistant principal in Fairbanks, Alaska. He completed a final assignment in the village of Scammon Bay on the Bearing Sea. As they arrived in Alaska, many teachers were resigning and heading home to the lower 48. The chill factor of 100 degrees below zero, sunless winter days, language and cultural differences were challenges many teachers found impossible.

Wilford Corbin, however, was following a dream. Wilford served as health officer and the only teacher in Wales and Scammon Bay. He dealt with language and cultural barriers through creatively dividing the one room school into two classes, using individualized instruction, and older students to translate as well as help teach. Gordon interviewed Wilford Corbin several times on WFSC’s, Citizens Making a Difference and was impressed with his great regard and respect for Eskimo culture. Wilford prioritized reading, writing and arithmetic and maintained high standards for students. He succeeded in circumstances in which many teachers were failing.

When he returned to Macon County as a teacher and administrator, students found Corbin to be inspiring, especially on the subject of following your dreams and building the knowledge and skills to make them possible. Betty Cloer Wallace, a former Macon County student, would telephone Wilford years later, telling him that his stories had inspired her to go to Alaska and that she had just been appointed principal of his old school in Wales, Alaska.

In 1989 Wilford and Virginia’s brother Harry returned to Alaska, traveling to Nome and Wales to visit former students. The students greeted him as the teacher that had changed their lives and told stories of how he had inspired them.

Wilford Corbin has chronicled his adventures in A World Apart: My Life Among the Eskimos of Alaska. It is the story of an inspiring and caring teacher, who followed his dream. Walt Disney, a creative animator, touched the world with his imagination. Each, in their own way, inspired others. Disney and Corbin had hardships to overcome but each stayed true to their dream. The Walt Disney law of doing the impossible means listening and then following your dream, using your creativity to accomplish what others may call impossible and, most importantly, having fun while you are doing it! If the United States is to solve the challenges ahead, understanding Disney’s law of Doing the Impossible will be indispensable. Will you help get the word out?

Gordon Mercer is international president of Pi Gamma Mu International Honor Society and a professor of political science. Marcia Mercer is a writer and columnist. The views expressed are those of the authors and do not reflect the views of other organizations. Go to http://www.notesonquotes.com to review all past quotes and columns on leadership.