Jul 30, 2013

Guest Post with Eric Muss-Barnes

Only Walt Disney Believed in Me

Since birth, I've had double-jointed thumbs, allowing me to wriggle them around in this freakish way.
As a kid, I presumed everyone could do that. When I was about 10 years old, I was having one of those conversations all children have; you know the kind - friends comparing weird tricks you can do - like curling your tongue or flipping your eyelids inside out. You know? That conversation. During said talk, I discovered double-jointed thumbs weren't so normal after all. Turns out, they were kind of a weird trick.

Once I grew older, I realized the conviction to turn your dreams into reality is also a weird trick a lot of people can't do. Like a double-jointed thumb, for some of us, it just comes naturally and we never question it. For other people, they look at you and say, "How the heck are you doing that!?"

Like many children, working for Walt Disney was a dream I had when I was a child, but I didn't hold onto that dream for very long. I grew up in a working-class neighborhood in Cleveland, Ohio. Every home for miles was nothing but blue-collar families. Few households had any college graduates. Anyone who did go to college just ended up managing autoworkers instead of being an autoworker. Absolutely no one from my neighborhood (with the exception of Drew Carey) ever did anything like move to Hollywood and work in movies. No way.

When I finally "made it" and started working for Disney, all I could think about was how I felt growing up - always believing in myself, while everyone else doubted me.

The reason I always had faith in myself? Because of all those books and movies and television shows telling children, "Hey! Follow your heart! Don't give up on your dreams! Work to make it happen!" I trusted them. I listened. I never questioned it. Knowing those messages were meant for me, just came naturally. Once I had Disney come knocking on my door, I finally saw the truth of it - those writers and directors and actors make those stories because they wanted to encourage kids like me! They wanted to reach out to the children who had no support from their family or friends. They knew no one was encouraging me, so it became their job to inspire me.

That is why I wrote How You Can Get a Job at Walt Disney Studios Without a College Degree. Now it was my turn to repay the favor. I owed that book to the kids who were like me. Every dreamer living in a place where hopes wither on the vine - they are the souls for whom my book was written. All those filmmakers and authors from my childhood, who told all those stories which kindled my ambitions, I had become one of them. I had become obligated to tell a story which shall pass that inspiration along, just as it was imparted to me.

When I tell people How You Can Get a Job at Walt Disney Studios Without a College Degree is far more than a book about Disney, that is what I mean. Getting into Disney was never the ambition. Getting into Disney was a side-effect. The ambition is to do what you dream. When you spend your lifetime doing that, places like Disney open up to you. Walk the path of your dreams and the doors of the Magic Kingdom let you in.

I always knew that would be true.

Even when I was surrounded by those who had no faith in my convictions, I always held steadfast.

That's not to say it was all bad. A friend once introduced me as "the most talented friend I know" and that really meant a lot to me. Another once said, "No one thinks the way you do, Eric." Looking back, sometimes I suspect more people had faith in me than I imagined, they just rarely voiced it. And perhaps, to my discredit, I sometimes failed to notice.

Do you have someone in your life you believe in, but you rarely tell them? Tell them now. Right now. Stop reading this and email them. Call them. Go hang out with them and let them know. They'll never forget it.

Do you have a dream everyone doubts? Go read How You Can Get a Job at Walt Disney Studios Without a College Degree and remember, once you achieve your dream, once you make it come true, encourage other people to always have faith in themselves, even when no one else does.

As that gift of encouragement was bequeathed to me, I owe it back to you.

As your dreams will be granted to you, your time shall come for inspiring others to achieve the same.

Knowing you will accomplish great things isn't a lie. You're not fooling yourself. Just like having double-jointed thumbs, believing in yourself is simply a weird ability few people possess. When you're surrounded by people who don't believe in themselves, you can't let them convince you to do the same. Keep your faith. Keep your tenacity.

The people who doubt you are wrong.

You're right.

You will make it.