In Disney Alice in Wonderland (affiliate link), Alice says that she picked up from her father the habit of believing six impossible things before breakfast. In Victorian England where the imagination, in women especially, was held with disdain, this is a curious habit indeed. Why would her father teach here to believe in (not think of or imagine) six impossible things before she starts the day?
“The only way to achieve the impossible is to believe it is possible” Alice says in the “Disney Alice through the Looking Glass” book (affiliate link)(p. 6).
Walt Disney was told that people wouldn’t sit through a full-length animated film. Some people believed that their eyes would start to bleed if they watched that much animation in one sitting. The idea for “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” (affiliate link) was labeled Disney’s Folly. It became the top grossing film of all time during its run in 1937 and 1938. While adults and children loved it, many of the tickets were sold at the child’s price. Walt financed the film betting his business and home that it would succeed.
In the early 1950s, Walt Disney faced the same kinds of criticism he had with the animated feature. He was going to build a theme park, an idea that people misinterpreted as an amusement park. It, too, was called Disney’s Folly. His wife wanted to know why Walt would want to run a dirty amusement park. He brother, Roy, told Walt he should stick to movies. Roy came on board to find funding for the park and help Walt, but he saw it as a terrible risk. Disneyland was opened July 17, 1955 and had its millionth visitor in September. Walt invested a sizable amount of money in the park, including selling his second home and borrowing against his life insurance. In both of these instances, Walt believed his idea would work.
The Impossible Is Fun
In order to achieve something no one else thinks you can, you have to be able to imagine you can do it, and then believe that you can. Your mind is a powerful tool, and when used in the right way, it can lead you to success or it can scuttle your efforts. To train your mind, you need to find ways of reprogramming it to help you believe in yourself. Start with small things that seem impossible and move on to bigger things as your self-efficacy grows.
As Walt Disney said, “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.” But to do it, you have to believe it is possible. Let everyone else keep their impossibilities to themselves. Start to believe in impossible things everyday and find out what a life of possibility is really like.