Updated: Jul 2, 2018
by Martin Rooney
Being spontaneous as a family can lead to powerful lessons.
I am writing this in the passenger seat riding up I-95 North from Florida to North Carolina. I get to sit “shotgun” because I was the one who drove south the whole 8.5 hours down to Florida a few days ago. And why did I gladly spend over 17 hours in the car? My wife and I surprised our kids with a last-minute adventure for their spring break.
Because my kids go to four different schools, they had different days off for spring break. Since they only had a few overlapping days off, we didn’t make any plans. As we got closer to their break, the kids were upset they wouldn’t be doing anything over the break. Since I have been working hard (and like to travel myself) we decided to surprise them with a few well-deserved days at Universal Studios in Orlando. We told the kids, booked a hotel on reward points, got up early Thursday and hit the road.
On the way down, I strategically picked the “entertainment” for the trip. We played the first three Harry Potter movies and brought some favorite Dr. Seuss books I had read to each of the kids since they have been little.
When we got to the hotel, we wasted no time. Like a military operation, we dumped our bags at the hotel room, caught a perfectly-timed shuttle to the park and picked up the Universal passes we ordered online in the car on the way down. Less than 30 minutes later, with Harry Potter and Hogwarts still fresh on my kids’ minds, we found ourselves in Diagon Alley experiencing the movies had just watched in real life.
On another spontaneous whim, we walked into a wand shop and then my daughter Kristina was selected to be part of the show! Just like the movie, she got to have a wand picked for her. She was given a wand (which then, of course, we had to buy) and our family had fun casting interactive spells throughout the area. After we had some snacks and a Butterbeer (like a root beer and vanilla with cinnamon soda), we rode the Hogwarts Express train over to the other park called Islands of Adventure. After more spells and a ride on a Hippogriff, we ended the first night at Seuss Landing.
Just like with the Potter movies, all of the Theodore Giesel (aka Dr. Seuss) books my kids have read before bed for years came to life right in front of our eyes. There was the Lorax and Horton the Elephant right there and real! We rode One Fish Two Fish and an interactive ride that brought The Cat In The Hat Book to life. As that first night (and a really full day of driving and walking) was coming to an end, I noticed a street sign in Seuss Landing for a specific road called Mulberry Street. That is when I my fatigue was replaced with inspiration. In fact, it was an epiphany that made all the spontaneity worth it.
Yes, I was in a “theme” park. But what I discovered is there was a common theme about the park no one could see. This common theme was not only hidden from everyone, but it was also so powerful that if everyone knew the truth, the world would be a better place. And before I could even tell the kids about my discovery, I saw the theme again as I walked through the Marvel-inspired section of the park when we exited!
What was this secret theme?
To all of the guests, the park appeared to be built on success. Among all the attractions, never once was anyone told the park was actually built on top of failures!
Yes, this entire park was built from incredible imagination, but the real “theme” of the park was to never give up when your ideas are rejected.
How did the street sign clue to in on this theme? As an author and big Dr. Seuss fan, I know the And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street book was Mr. Geisel’s first book. Most people in the park probably didn’t know the book was rejected by 23 different publishers before the 24th said yes. Only after million copies of that book were sold did Dr. Seuss’ become a success that allowed him sell you and the rest of the world Cats In Hats and Green Eggs and Ham.
That spell of rejection was even more powerful over in Harry Potter Land. The people dressed in Hogwarts cloaks and wands probably knew J.K. Rowling as the author of her wildly successful book series. On lines for rides, however, I heard people talking about their favorite characters and Hogwarts houses, but never once did I hear anyone mention the amount of rejection Rowling received before her magical idea finally sold.
Rowling received over a dozen rejections for her now multi-billion dollar idea. In fact, she wrote the series in Edinburgh, Scotland cafes as a single mother unable to afford coffee and was told to get a day job because she had little chance in making money with children’s books! Just like Dr. Seuss, hundreds of millions have been inspired because
Rowling knew it wasn’t really a rejection until she quit.
As I reflected these two stories of rejection, I realized there was an even bigger story of which no one at Universal was aware. As people walked through the clean park and were awed by the rides and shows, they were probably unaware there was one more “reject” to thank. At 22 years old this person was told he “was not creative enough” and his early business ventures went bankrupt. When he came up with the idea to create a new style of amusement park that he called a “theme” park, his idea was rejected over and over even by members of his family! Who was this reject that eventually brought his idea to the underdeveloped area of Orlando, Florida? None other than Walt Disney.
So what about you? Your imagination and the ideas borne from it are the most powerful things you possess. As the previous people prove, you never know what they can become. Here are 5 Lessons from some of the world’s most famous “rejects”:
1. Your Past Does Not Predict Your Future.
2. The Secret To Success Isn’t Talent. It Is Persistence.
3. The Big Stuff Often Happens After Someone Tells You “No.”
4. If Someone Is Going To Give You A Rejection, Let It Be Someone Other Than You.
5. You Haven’t Really Been Rejected Until You Give Up And Quit.
What is your big idea? Can you persist and keep the enthusiasm?