One of the most memorable events of my honeymoon with Georgette in 1980 was when we went to Disney World. At that time, we were both 23 years old and we had big dreams for our future together. While we were browsing through one of the gift shops at Disney, Georgette picked out two outfits she wanted to buy to be set aside for the future (to be worn at a later time). Two years later, she was able to dress our son Harry in the Mickey Mouse outfit she bought at Disney World, and two years after that she was able to dress our daughter Anna in the Minnie Mouse outfit.
Needless to say, Harry and Anna were the cutest Mickey and Minnie we had (and have) ever seen.
I thought about the Mickey and Minnie outfits recently when I read an article about Walt Disney and the empire he built that still bears his name. Of course, as you know, it all started with an idea in the mind of Disney to bring a mouse to life on screen.
One interesting tidbit that’s worth pointing out concerned the legendary Lionel Train Company. The Lionel Train Company was founded in 1901 and was famous for its toy trains. My cousin, Chuck Couri, had a Lionel train set when we were boys. He had tracks laid out in a section of his parents’ living room with a train that chugged along and made stops at various places on the tracks.
During the Great Depression, after experiencing a dramatic plunge in sales and taking on a massive amount of debt, the Lionel Train Company filed for bankruptcy. It appeared as though it was the end of the line for the famous maker of toy trains until the company asked the bankruptcy judge to allow it to manufacture and sell only one new train for the upcoming Christmas season – a Mickey & Minnie Mouse Christmas Train (with licensing fees to be paid to the Walt Disney Company). The judge approved the request and the sales from that one train wiped out Lionel’s entire debt.
A similar thing happened in 1933 when the Ingersoll Waterbury Clock Company, on the verge of financial collapse, was saved when it bought the licensing rights to, and then manufactured and sold, the first Mickey Mouse Watch. Today, over 75 years later, Ingersoll Waterbury, which is now know as the Timex Corporation, still sells the Mickey watches.
If you know any of the history behind Walt Disney, you know that Mickey Mouse became famous after he appeared as the main character in Steamboat Willie, the first Disney cartoon to feature synchronized sound. The original release date for Steamboat Willie was November 18, 1928.
In his book, Eight Keys To Greatness, Gene Landrum, identifies eight separate traits that all great people possess: charisma, competitiveness, confidence, drive, intuitive vision, rebellion, risk-taking, and tenacity. According to Landrum, Walt Disney possessed all eight traits. Another person Landrum named in his book who possessed all eight traits was Mother Teresa.
I’m pointing this out to you because I want you to consider something: Walt Disney was not some ordinary business owner who ran to the Government for help or panicked every time an obstacle got in his way. He was a big thinker who not only failed big, but also built an empire that continues to thrive and flourish over 80 years after it was created.
The same goes for Mother Teresa. She wasn’t some ordinary little Catholic who whined or gave up every time an obstacle got in her way. She was a big thinker who built the Missionaries of Charity one humble person at a time – a religious order that continues to thrive and flourish 50 years after it was created.
Countless souls have been comforted and saved by what started in Mother Teresa’s mind as a big idea, just as countless individuals and business have benefited financially from what started in Walt Disney’s mind as a big idea.
What’s going on in your mind? Do you have any big ideas that if implemented would help to advance the Kingdom of God on earth? Or are you a small thinker who is satisfied with being a “normal” run-of-the-mill Catholic who is content to just make it to Mass every Sunday and confession once or twice a year?
The Catholic Church is not only struggling in this country, but is also struggling in the other “first world” countries because we don’t have enough Mother Teresa’s – bold thinkers who single-mindedly insist on doing God’s work in a BIG way.
What Mother Teresa accomplished during her lifetime did not come easy. If you’ve read some of what’s been written about her, you know that she spent most of her adult life in a state of “spiritual darkness.” Yet, with great humility and perseverance, she tenaciously plowed forward while maintaining the faith that God would see her through all of her struggles.
We have all been given the “keys to greatness.” Maybe not the 8 keys that Landrum identifies in his book, but keys nonetheless, given to us by God to help us bring as many people as possible into His fold.
What Walt Disney did continues to echo here on earth. What Mother Teresa did echoes in eternity.
What big idea do you have that once implemented, will echo in eternity?