Anyone that knows me knows that I’m very skeptical about “self-help” things. Anything proclaiming to help you achieve a greater level of success, wealth, fame, etc makes me want to cringe. So anytime I get a book to review that I define as a self-help type of book, I go at it with a raised eyebrow and, unfairly, a biased mind. However, this is the second book that I have reviewed in this category that has truly blown me away. The first was Joe Pardo’s “31 Life Changing Concepts” book (see my review here). The second is an amazing book by author Dr. Jeffrey A. Barnes entitled “The Wisdom Of Walt: Leadership Lessons From the Happiest Place on Earth”.
Obviously since I’m writing on a website titled Disneyways, I love all things Disney. This book really stood out to me simply based on the title. However, I had no idea just how amazing and life-changing it could really be. I’ve spent years learning and reading about Walt Disney’s life: how this determined young man from Kansas (and Missouri and Chicago and California) wouldn’t let anything stand in his way; how he fought through many obstacles to get where he was; how he turned hardships into life lessons. I honestly thought I had a pretty good impression of who Walt was until I read this book. Dr. Barnes delves so much deeper into Walt’s life and uncovers just some of what made Walt into Walt Disney. For instance, how he took his personal tragedies and turned them into professional successes. Each chapter of this book uncovers another little nugget of pure gold that can really help the reader accomplish his or her goals in a very realistic and easy to understand way.
The format of this book is very different from any other book I have read. In the introduction, Dr. Barnes lays out what he calls his “guidemap” explaining how the book works. Under the chapter title you will find a quote from Walt Disney, going back to the original source for the inspiration of that chapter. Second, you’ll find a story about Disneyland, taking it all back to where everything really began (and alluding to what Dr. Barnes was doing when he came up with the concept of this book: teaching a course on the History of Disneyland). Third, you have the actual lesson to be learned in that chapter. Fourth, you have what Dr. Barnes calls a “Souvenir Stop”. Much like leaving at the end of a long day at Disneyland, this is a time for you to gather a treasure to take home with you, always to remind you of your journey. And last, you have the hand stamp. Much like when you are visiting Disneyland and decide to head out for a bit, only to come back a the end of the day, the hand stamp shows where you have been and where you are going. Obviously, I don’t explain it nearly as well as Dr. Barnes does, but these are the essences of “The Wisdom of Walt”. The book isn’t simply a random collection of thoughts and principals, but something with great order and civility, something to inspire each and every person that enters into it, similar to Disneyland Park itself.
Some of the amazing life lessons that can be taken from this book and, indeed, from Walt’s life include: Sitting on a park bench, telling stories, building a berm, using forced perspective (my absolute favorite), creating e-ticket experiences, waiting in line, and having a next, always. No matter where you turn in this text, you are guaranteed to come away with something. And at the end of each chapter there are exercises designed to really make you think, rather than just simply reading and being complacent. These thoughts can be compiled in a list and set to the side to be browsed at your leisure and to remind you of your journey. This is definitely a book I will reference for years to come as I continue to ‘listen to your “walter” ego’. Thank you Dr. Barnes. And thank YOU Walt. For everything.
To purchase your copy of “The Wisdom Of Walt: Leadership Lessons From the Happiest Place on Earth”, click here.
To learn more about Dr. Jeffrey A. Barnes, author and speaker extraordinaire, click here.
Joshua Snyder is an avid Disney fanatic. He recently moved back to Indiana after spending 2 years living his dream in Orlando, FL. When Josh isn’t dreaming about the parks, he’s helping people plan their dream vacations. As a Dream Designer with My Mickey Vacation, Josh loves helping people make their Disney dreams come true. He is also the senior writer and head of the writing team at Living The Dream Podcast. Josh can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org for travel agent inquiries, or at email@example.com for all other inquiries.