Archives For Oswald the Lucky Rabbit

Letting Go of Oswald Part 2

July 15, 2009

Yesterday I shared the story of Walt Disney’s first, but not well known character Oswald the Lucky Rabbit.  It’s a story of determination and audacity. What’s fantastic about the story is that Oswald returned from Universal Studios to the Walt Disney Company in 2006!Oswald

I can think of many instances where I questioned if I was trying to hold on to Oswald.  Sometimes it was a great idea, a goal or a relationship that wasn’t bad but just fell a half pitch below being extraordinary. The hardest decision I’ve made was to quit my PhD. Program in 2001.  I had never quit anything before to the extent that I had never dropped a class in college. To just walk away was foreign and hard to accept. It was the best decision I made.  I would love to finish a doctorate degree, but it most definitely won’t be in engineering.

That’s an extreme example. Other examples include times in meetings where I feel my idea is the best and it’s getting sent to the bench because I don’t have the title to push it through. An even worst scenario is when I’m pushing for the sake the team and I’m making no headway.  Learning to discern an Oswald situation is a major effort of leadership.  It is an effort that continues at every level.

What if Disney got caught up a law suit fighting for Oswald instead of keeping the creative juices going and discovering Mickey? What are you holding on to that is keeping you from moving forward? Or who are you holding on to that’s keeping the team from moving forward?

Letting go of Oswald Part 1

July 14, 2009

This story is one of few non-biblical stories that have shaped my character. I hope you get as much out of it as I do.

In 1927, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoon short films burst onto the movie scenes by Universal Pictures. He was Universal’s first animated character.  Oswald was popular through the 1930s with a total of 192 short films. The animator who created Oswald, had a studio in Hollywood with a staff of 7 other animators.  He had negotiated a contract with Universal regarding Oswald and his short films. After Oswald’s initial series “the Alice Comedies” had run its course in 1927, he negotiated a new contract with Universal to produce more short films. The first short was rejected for poor quality but the second, “Trolly Troubles” featured a younger Oswald. This film officially launched the series. This proved to be the animator’s greatest success to date. He had rebounded from the bankruptcy of his first studio, had a successful and profitable studio, a popular cartoon character to his name and a contract with a major studio.Oswald 2

In 1928 he flew to New York to ask Universal for more money. To his dismay Universal not only cut his budget by 20%, they reminded the young animator that they owned the rights to Oswald and revealed they had signed most of his animators to contracts with Universal! They threatened to start their own studio with his staff. They believed they had leverage. But he walked away with the two loyal staff members and fellow animators, Ub Iwerks & Les Clark.

I wonder if Walt Disney knew that by letting go of Oswald, he was about to find Mickey?

While completing their contract and finishing the remaining Oswald cartoons, Disney, Iwerks and Clark created the cartoon hero that is now the world’s most recognized fictional character.

One effort of leadership is knowing when to let things go. An Oswald could be an idea, a person, a thing or even a dream.

What are you holding on to they may be preventing you from discovering  your Mickey?