On the airplane coming home from a fund raising event I thought about one of my favorite Walt Disney stories. Couldn’t get it out of my head. I’ll get to why in a moment. . .first, the story. . .
They were weeks away from opening Walt Disney World in Florida and Walt was making one of his many walk-throughs with his accountant to fine-tune his vision. This time of a bayou-themed restaurant in the park. Something wasn’t right, but he couldn’t put his finger on it. He asked one of the waiters they had brought in from Louisiana what was missing. The waiter said, “That’s easy Mr. Disney, no fire flies. It’s not the bayou without fire flies.”
Walt turned to his accountant and said “He’s right, we need fire flies, get me 10,000 fire flies.”
Now, this is an accountant, mind you, having just been asked to get 10,000 fire flies.
“Walt, when do you want them?”
Not “Are you nuts?!” Or “Do you know what that’ll cost?!” But “Walt, when do you want them?”
I think about the beauty of this response often. . .when the issue or situation at hand seems a bit, uh, shall we say, unrealistic, crazy, ridiculous, unreachable.
The farmland of Iowa was disappearing beneath me as I thought about this story. I am part of a fund raising effort to renovate the fraternity house to which I belonged in college. Our goal: we need pledges of $1.7 million in six months to save the house. To some of the guys, we may as well have been asking for 10,000 fire flies. Others basically said, well, we better get busy. Walt, when do you want them?
For many of us, the thought of growing sales in this economy may feel about as possible as getting your hands on 10,000 fire flies. But remember, you do have a choice in how you respond.