“To dare is to lose one’s footing momentarily. To not dare is to lose one’s self.” Søren Kierkegaard
In The Disney Way: Harnessing the Management Secrets of Disney in Your Company, Revised Edition, William Capodagli and Lynn Jackson explain that their book “tells the inside story of just how Disney’s success was achieved — not by epiphanic flashes of creative insight that produced a Pinocchio or a Dumbo, but by the force of a much-considered, carefully wrought process of managing innovation and creativity and by an adherence to a firmly established system of beliefs.” The foundation of that system, the Disney Way, consists of four “pillars”: Dream, Believe, Dare, Do. Although Whitney Johnson follows a somewhat different sequence of thought in her book, she agrees with Disney and other great visionaries throughout history that it takes courage to dream and to dream boldly, and then even greater courage to pursue that dream with relentless both faith and tenacity to make it come true. Hence the wisdom of Kierkegaard’s insight, quoted in the title of this review. However, many (most?) people are unwilling and/or unable to summon the courage to “dare to dream.” With vigor and eloquence, Johnson provides a wealth of material to help them to follow the example of Tennyson’s daring and dauntless hero, Ulysses: “To strive, to seek, to find…and not to yield.”
What I especially appreciate about this book is that much (most?) of the most valuable material is provided by several dozen quite different men and women with whom most readers can readily identify. They are real people, in real situations, struggling to answer real questions and to solve real problems. Their personal stories, in their own words, are carefully organized and presented within 15 chapters, divided among three Parts (DARE: Why Dreaming Is Essential, DREAM: Boldly Finding Your Dreams,, and DO: Making Your Dreams Happen). In Parts One and Two, they help readers to understand how to
o Make meaning of their life
o Find their voice and authentic self
o Truly “grow up”
o Demonstrate to children by example how to dream
Note: This material (in Chapter 4, Pages 53-70) will be of great value to parents, of course, but also to teachers, coaches, school officials, physicians, and anyone else with whom children frequently interact.
o Be the hero or heroine of their story
o Make “space” for their dreams
o Invest in their strengths and competencies (i.e. increase them)
o Know (really know) their deeply-held beliefs
o Build on their strengths
o Rightsize their dreams
In Part Three (Chapters 11-15), Johnson shifts her attention to “Making Your Dreams Happen.” Twenty contributors share their own experiences when seeking to achieve that goal. They also share the lessons they learned – and what others can perhaps learn – from those experiences.However, only a reader can achieve Johnson’s ultimate objective: To make their life and their achievements “remarkable” by daring to dream. In fact, as Johnson and countless contributors to this book affirm and then reaffirm without hesitation, a “chain of dreams” must be initiated and then sustained. These dreams need not be epic in scope or universal in impact. In essence, each dream (whatever its nature and extent) offers a “snapshot” of what can be better, more fulfilling, of greater value to one’s self and to others. As for the “chain,” it will be created during a personal journey of discovery. Whitney Johnson prepares her reader well for that journey. Let it begin now.