Walt Disney: Importance of letting things go

When he finally created a successful character after 10 long years of hard work, Disney’s producer stole his company and his creative works from under his nose. But he bounced back from that lowest point of his life and emerged the winner!

You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you. ~ Walt DisneyWalt Disney was only 21 when he started his first venture, the Laugh-O-Gram Studios, where he busied himself in creating cartoons. However, the company did not survive for long. Barely a year after it was founded, the studio went bankrupt. Walt was back at square one, but he kept going.

After plunging in failures for around 10 years, in 1927 Walt created his first successful animation character, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. Overnight he became a well-known name in the entertainment industry.

Oswald’s producer Charles Mintz was paying its creator a mere 20% cut and with the film’s huge success, Walt naturally expected a decent raise. When the contract was due for renewal, a very hopeful Walt travelled all the way to New York to negotiate better terms.

However, Mintz delayed the meetings and dragged the discussions over weeks. During this period, Mintz went behind Walt’s back to negotiate an agreement with the existing animation crew of Walt’s studio.

His producer had not only stolen his star character but also his employees, which consisted of some of his closest friends. Walt was given two options – stay back as a mere employee of the studio on the same 20% cut or leave the company and forget about Oswald series and his animation crew. Walt chose to leave.

Walt had lost his studio, his employees and his favorite character, the fruits of ten years of hard work. Deeply hurt by the betrayal, Walt vowed that never again will he work for anyone but himself. He wasted no time brooding about his losses nor did he waste an ounce of his energy plotting revenge against the betrayers!

Instead he calmly accepted the reality and started afresh. He let Oswald the Lucky Rabbit go without even a sign of protest!

Very soon Walt created Mickey Mouse, his most famous creation which led him to the pinnacle of success.

Action Summary

  • Sometimes we lose things to gain something much better.

  • Everyone faces setbacks. Failures and betrayals are not the end of the world. All it takes to succeed is ability to let go and the spirit to bounce back!

~ Gitanjali Banerjee