This week I’m fortunate enough to be attending a conference in Orlando directly across the road from Walt Disney World. Having a room on the 19th floor overlooking the park affords me a view that few are fortunate enough to get. I can literally see from one side of this MASSIVE resort to the other. To give you some idea of the scale, it’s twice the size of Manhattan and essentially as big as San Francisco. It’s BIG.
The park opened in 1971. Before then, it was was still as big as it was but full of nothing but alligators and palmettos. Nothing of value to humans speak of beyond its natural beauty. A vast, empty plot of swampland nobody wanted.
Except it wasn’t a swamp to some people. To Walt Disney and his brother Roy, it was a canvas. They would build the city of tomorrow to showcase what a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow could look like. Today, millions of visitors come like pilgrims to the shrine to Innovation and Dreams. Walt and Roy saw beyond the swamp and saw so much more and built a something in this ‘worthless’ swamp that inspired generations. That swamp contained a gold mine for those who could see it – a gold mine that’s worth approximately $160B today.
How does this apply to the average person? But frankly, most people live a life that’s an unchanging raw swamp. They (We? You?) could build and make something out of it, but don’t. Each person’s potential is wide-open, verdant, and ready for development but never seems to change because all that’s seen is what is, not what could be. The canvas is blank day after day.
It’s a perfectly-human and normal knee-jerk reaction inside most of us that when an inspired idea is present to immediately look for the catch, the angle, or the flaw. We can’t help it. Society has trained us to be skeptical of new ideas and that’s a healthy reaction in most cases. But when the new idea comes from inside, we have to do extra work.
The same instinct to not buy worthless land in Florida without a ton of investment research goes into overdrive when we’re the person trying to sell an idea to ourselves. Healthy skepticism can become very unhealthy because if it stifles our dreams and visions too quickly. We have to learn to be skeptical of our skepticism, sometimes. If we don’t, our dreams and ideas, instead of being plans to build a something amazing can quickly change back into a plain-old surveyor’s map of a swamp.
If you have the courage and discipline to find and follow the dreams you have, you’ll find that you can turn a swamp into something magical, if you’re willing to trust your heart over your eyes.