Start Truly Committing

In the early 1990s, Joe Rohde, a Walt Disney Imagineer, was fascinated by the idea of bringing a “living” theme park to Disneyworld. He wasn’t alone in this dream. The company had always wanted to use live animals in the parks but was never able to find a way.

Rohde believed he could make it happen, and he had a plan to do it. Rohde pitched his idea to Disney’s senior leadership team. He shared a detailed layout for a new park that included a 100-acre safari, movie theaters, concessions scattered throughout the park, and an enormous parking lot.

He was promptly rejected. He was told Disney wasn’t interested in having a zoo.

Though disappointed, Rohde went back to the drawing board and came back a second time with a similar pitch. This time he upped his game; he brought charts, graphs, and data to explain why his idea would create an unbelievable atmosphere and how it was a perfect fit for Disney. Once again, he was told no.

Most people would have given up then, but Rohde decided to give it one last try. After analyzing what went wrong with his first two attempts, he decided to change his strategy. He needed to bring his pitch to life, and he knew exactly how to do it.

Halfway through his third time explaining his idea, a fully grown Siberian Tiger walked into the room. Everyone froze at the sight of the magnificent beast, with leadership suddenly understanding the power, magnitude, and sheer magic that enchanting and exotic animals from across the world could bring to the Disney experience. Not long after, Rohde was given the green light to start building what would later be known as Disney’s Animal Kingdom.2

It is not necessary (or advised) to bring in a Siberian Tiger to make your point, but you do need to go all in. When engaging in transformational change, merely going through the motions is not enough. You must truly commit.

Apathetic attempts at leveling up are similar to people who post on Facebook they need a new job yet fail to put forth an honest effort applying for roles or connecting with recruiters, individuals who state they are tired of being single though never step out of their comfort zone to meet new people, and friends who share they are interested in getting in shape but don’t eat right and never exercise. Words and half-hearted efforts get you nowhere.

If you want a better job, you need to search for new opportunities and network. If you want to be in a relationship, you must find suitable mates who are single. And if you are interested in getting in shape, you need to eat right and hit the gym. Half-assed approaches toward achieving a goal and ill-advised attempts at execution will only bring you disappointment.

This is true in business as well. Going halfway won’t cut it. You need to truly commit to win. The days of companies being fat and happy and coasting to easy victories are over. In today’s business environment, everyone wants a bigger piece of the pie. And with the mode of entry now easier than ever in almost every industry and market in the world, it makes it that much more competitive.

This challenge has become even more of an issue recently due to companies developing “shiny object syndrome.” At its very core, shiny object syndrome is an ailment that stymies companies (and people) that are always chasing after the latest and greatest thing. Much like how a child will play with a shiny new toy for a short period of time only to cast it off for something newer and shinier, so too are companies at risk of chasing after the latest and greatest concept, product, or service for the interim, only to change direction and go after something different without seeing the first idea to the finish line.

It is undeniable companies must adapt and evolve to be successful, but obsessively changing directions numerous times will cause organizations to implode. Bouncing from idea to idea, or switching to the latest tools, techniques, products, or services simply because something new is on the market, is a recipe for disaster. It will reduce productivity and destroy morale.

If you don’t go all in, you won’t succeed. Weak attempts and apathetic efforts won’t cut it. Neither will chasing after the latest gadget, tool, product, or service.

To level up, you must truly commit.

Bringing It All Together

If you are stranded out in the desert, you don’t start searching for a source to drink from after you become dehydrated; you begin searching immediately. This aligns closely with the way you should approach change in your business. Your interest in improving your company and leveling up shouldn’t begin when you are starting to fade, but rather, be an ongoing area of focus.

This is evident from the demise of all the companies that believed they didn’t need to improve operations, upgrade technology platforms, and change outdated business models because they were already reaping the benefits of hard work. Regardless of the industry you are in, market you are trying to capture, or business you are leading, the necessity of leveling up is real. Companies that fail to make a concerted effort, choosing instead to maintain the status quo, will not survive. The speed at which business is moving and change is occurring will not allow it to survive. So, unless you are building for the future and finding ways to improve your operation today, you will not make it.

You must level up.


  • 1. Sanders, Chris and Kirk DeMicco. The Croods. DVD. Directed by Chris Sanders and Kirk DeMicco. Universal City, CA: Universal Pictures Home Entertainment, 2013.
  • 2. Bell, Brittney. “The Tiger in the Room: How Joe Rohde Pitched Animal Kingdom.” de-pitched.html?m=l (accessed April 12,2020).


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