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Ten Leadership Lessons from Disney Tunes

How your favorite kids music can teach you to face the challenges of adult leadership (and life)

Leadership can be tough. That’s no secret. Leadership can also be fun, exciting, and a lifelong learning experience. It is important that we don’t forget to smile, especially when life is hard. This list has been designed to help you get through the tough times. It will help you shift your focus to having fun again and teach you to lead and learn through difficult situations.
Disney has produced so many memorable tunes over the years. Hidden within the catchy songs are important life and leadership lessons. Here are ten leadership lessons from Disney tunes:

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1) When You Wish Upon A Star – Pinocchio
“When a star is born
They possess a gift or two
One of them is this
They have the power to make a wish come true”

Every individual has unique gifts and talents that when used can lead to greater fulfillment, joy, and satisfaction in every area of life. It doesn’t mean you won’t face obstacles or have to overcome challenges but like Pinocchio when you live your truth all your dreams can come true.

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2) Try Everything- Zootopia
“I won’t give up, no I won’t give in
Till I reach the end
And then I’ll start again
No, I won’t leave
I wanna try everything
I wanna try even though I could fail
I want to try everything, I want to try even though I could fail”

What does it really mean to fail? It’s not the end of the road. In fact, failures let you see the road to success from a different VANTAGE POINT than the one you started with.

The only thing worse than starting something and failing is not starting something. So we must be willing to try everything. We must be willing to fail at everything. We must learn to Fail Forward. That’s where our learning takes place.

Recently I watched the movie “The Last Word” starring Shirley McLaine and Amanda Seyfried. The advice McLaine’s character shares with Seyfried is to Fail Magnificiently. There is a certain level of freedom and power when we embrace our failures. And since we have to do it anyway, why not go BIG.

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3) Whistle While You Work – Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
“My day one rule
Is keeping my cool
Even if I’m broken up
If you blow my high
You won’t see me cry
Gotta whistle while you work it”

It is important to enjoy what you do regardless of how laborious or difficult the task. Bad things happen sometimes. Don’t allow a bad moment to turn into a bad day, week, or month. There are times when we get stuck in a rut. Don’t fret. Just whistle while you work.

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4) Almost There – Princess and the Frog
“Ain’t got time for messing around, And it’s not my style.
This old town can slow you down people taking the easy way, But I know exactly where I’m going, getting closer and closer every day and I’m almost there”

Tiana reminds us about the value of setting a goal and being persistent in the pursuit of that goal. While we live in a ‘we want it all’ and ‘we want it now’ society, that’s simply not the reality in most cases. There is no easy way. Often if you take the easy way, your success may not be built to last. Small incremental wins are equally as valuable as giant leaps forward.

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5) Go the Distance – Hercules
“I’ll be there someday, I can go the distance
I will find my way if I can be strong
I know every mile would be worth my while
When I go the distance, I’ll be right where I belong”

Just like Tiana, Hercules too teaches us the lesson of persistence and leveraging our unique set of skills to endure the obstacles we face.

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6) Dig a Little Deeper – Princess and the Frog
“When you found out who you are
You find out what you need
Blue skies and sunshine
Guaranteed”

Sometimes you have to dig a little deeper to identify your personal vision, mission, and purpose. All too often we get lost in the “shoulds” of life. Like we should have this size home, we should have this size bank account, and on and on. The pursuit of those ‘shoulds’ can lead us further off our own path and life’s journey. Once you identify your vision, mission, and purpose, allow them to guide you.

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7) Spoonful of Sugar – Mary Poppins
“In every job that must be done
There is an element of fun
You find the fun and snap!
The job’s a game
And every task you undertake
Becomes a piece of cake
A lark! A spree! It’s very clear to see that
A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down
The medicine go down
The medicine go down
Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down
In a most delightful way”

In Mary Poppins, the children lament overdoing their chores and Mary Poppins helps them realize that if they can find the fun in the task, it will make the time pass quickly. This advice can also be used when providing performance feedback or offering critique. People want to do a good job. They want to be recognized for their contributions. As leaders, we will be far more effective with our team if we first focus on what was done well, and offer our assistance or support in areas that were not quite up to the mark.

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8) Let it Go – Frozen
“It’s funny how some distance
Makes everything seem small
And the fears that once controlled me
Can’t get to me at all.
It’s time to see what I can do
To test the limits and break through
No right, no wrong, no rules for me,
I’m free!”

When we try to be like others is when we lose the essence of who we really are. Elsa was never a part of the popular club. Only when she realized that there is no point in pretending to be someone she isn’t, did she truly embrace her uniqueness. She teaches us an important lesson – Just do you.

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9) You Got a Friend in Me – Toy Story
“You’ve got troubles, and I’ve got ’em too
There isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for you
We stick together and can see it through
‘Cause you’ve got a friend in me”

As a leader, those that are in your employ or within your sphere of influence want to know that you are in it with them. Side by side. Hand in hand. Falling together. Picking each other up and striving to greater heights together. The bond between a leader and his/her followers is critical to success.

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“When I’m stuck a day
That’s gray,
And lonely,
I just stick out my chin
And Grin,
And Say,
Oh!
The sun’ll come out
Tomorrow
So ya gotta hang on
‘Til tomorrow
Come what may”

Every day we are welcomed with new opportunities to achieve greatness. At the end of each day, shake it off no matter what happened – good or bad. Journal your learning. Create your to-do list for the next day. Then walk away and enjoy. Pour something back into yourself and know tomorrow you get to do it all over again.

SMXLL

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