Balancing Too Many Hats

Balancing Too Many Hats

I had the opportunity to do a short Disney cruise with my wife for our anniversary. I was eager for the trip. Work had been hectic, and I simply looked forward to spending time with the one I most loved. Taking a Disney Cruise was the best solution.

One of the things I love about the ships of the Disney Cruise Line is that each vessel is a living museum of art and photos. This includes one’s stateroom. On this particular trip, I was fascinated by the pairing of these two photos in my quarters:

This first photo features Walt and Lillian when they went on a cruise. In the new book,  Travels with Walt Disney by Jeff Kurtti, we learn that Walt and Lillian took a cruise in 1935 aboard the Normandie to England. They then journey to Scotland, France, Germany, Switzerland, and Italy before returning to New York City from Naples aboard the Italian liner Rex, where apparently this photo was taken. From there they took a train back to Pasadena. The entire trip took the better part of a month. This was not their first voyage. That was back in October of 1931 when on doctor’s orders, they took a sort of “Gypsy Jaunt” that included time on the SS California through the Panama Canal. Lillian recounts this of Walt:

“He was conscious that he was undergoing a breakdown, even though I wasn’t. He was having trouble concentrating on his work and remembering things. And so we decided to take off on a trip.”

I can relate to Walt. There are times when I need to stop, drop, and do nothing. I am not disciplined at finding time to take a break and relax. That’s probably because I’m always busy doing so many things. And that brings me to the next photo, involving this familiar guy:

Sketch from the original Pirates of the Caribbean attraction.

This was a sketch Marc Davis drew of a pirate trying to get on a boat while balancing the possessions he had obtained. Walt Disney shares with Disneyland Ambassador Julie Reihm how this pirate plays a role in the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction:

The juxtaposition of these two photos placed together really caused me to think. Here was Walt Disney, full of opportunities ahead of him, who was taking a long voyage with his wife in order to get the time and space to relax. That was a sharp contrast to my very short two-night cruise to Ensenada Mexico. And yet, out of that time of reflection, Walt would return to the Studios and go into the major production of what became his first full-length film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

In contrast was this pirate trying to “steal” that which he did not own. I saw myself as a pillager of time trying to capture it all by “wearing too many hats”. It seems that this scene is apropos, because in all my attempts to take on an awful lot, I never really get where I need to go. Instead, I end up rocking the ship.

Walt noted:

“Success often demands a big price. In my case it nearly ruined my health. The more successful I became, the harder I worked on new ideas, new developments, new techniques–until I reached a breaking point. Years ago I was close to a nervous breakdown. My doctor insisted I cut down to a five-day workweek, learn to relax, and get myself some hobbies which would release my tensions.”

I think you can see all the metaphors. So here are the souvenirs for both work and life:

  • When do you intentionally take time for yourself?
  • Are you trying to wear too many hats?
  • In the pursuit of taking everything on, do you end up rocking the boat?
  • What do you do to release your tension?

J. Jeff Kober

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