December 30, 2010

creating an experience

I have been reflecting on our trip to Disneyland this past summer.  I want to share the article I wrote for my newsletter while at the Happiest Place on Earth.

There are two things that are really striking about the experience here. 
First, that every person working within the gates of Disney is committed to a common purpose:  creating an extra-ordinary experience for the visitor.  Every person – they are not staff, but rather ‘cast’ or ‘crew’ members – without fail holds to that commitment.  Grumpy doesn’t exist.  There is an invitation offered everywhere to have a wonderful time.  They thank you for coming as you enter the park.  It is really quite amazing, to be in an environment where the customer experience is held above all else. 
Second, that Walt Disney created this amazing park with only his own vision.  He is quoted as stating: "We did it in the knowledge that most of the people I talked to thought it would be a financial disaster - closed and forgotten within the first year."  Most everyone around him believed his idea would not be successful, and told him so.  Yet he proceeded anyway.  At significant financial and personal cost. 
Opinions are an interesting thing.  We surround ourselves with people who are important to us.  Friends, family, partners, mentors.  For the most part, we care about what the people in our lives think.  We don’t do a good job of separating our care, respect and trust for the person, from what we expect ourselves to do with the opinion they offer us.  Often, we and they both tend to have an expectation that the opinion will alter our course of action in some way. 
What if it doesn’t, and what if that doesn’t mean anything?  Opinions are just opinions:  a particular way of thinking based on a collection of thoughts such as our own personal past experience, the past experience of others close to us, our beliefs, what we have read or heard.  They also contain our own fears.  We offer them up to others freely and sometimes, carelessly. 
Walt Disney was surrounded by people important to him, and their freely offered opinions told him his theme park was a bad idea.  He proceeded anyway, and we have The Happiest Place on Earth as a result. 
Disneyland is a good reminder of what’s possible. 

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