I realize that I am not the first person to say this, but our first trip to Disney World truly was magical.
The year was 2003 and the boys were nine, seven, and five. We booked the trip in 2002, and since Disney was still trying to lure visitors to Orlando in the wake of 9/11, Christy got a killer deal. We stayed at the Grand Floridian, right on the monorail and the Seven Seas Lagoon.
I could get used to living like this …
It was so good, we hesitated when the boys begged us to go back a couple of summers later, afraid it wouldn’t live up to our first experience. After agonizing about our decision for about 13 seconds, we ultimately caved. As we planned our second trip, however, we soon discovered that Disney had recovered financially. We ended up staying here.
The pool was great.
If you are a regular on this blog, you know that Christy is a main character. You have no doubt grown to love her happy-go-lucky disdain for schedules and organization. But on our second Disney visit, she was on a mission.
And like most attention deficit disorder people are prone to do, Christy hyper-focused on something she liked—Disney. She poured over books and websites for days, even weeks, leading up to our trip.
Christy jotted down notes on:
(1) Scheduling park visits opposite of peak park times and days.
(2) How to coordinate park visits around extra magic hours.
(3) Where and when to eat based on estimated ride times.
(4) Avoiding the higher priced souvenirs strategically placed as you exited rides; instead, we opted for the cost savings at the mega-souvenir store in downtown Disney.
(5) Where to sit or stand for optimal parade route viewing.
(6) When to utilize bus, boat, monorail, or feet.
(7) What rides were likely to produce nausea (she put an “X” by those).
All this, Christy thought, would maximize our experience. Her desire was to squeeze every possible bit of fun out of this vacation. Personally, I loved this change in Christy, but I kinda felt naughty—like I was with a different woman having fun.
I’ll tell you someone else who was having fun … Sam. Each morning we ate in a cute little café called Gasparillo’s where Christy would bark out marching orders for the day. About day three, I noticed a pattern developing with Sam.
When Christy launched into her organizational speech, Sam casually walked over where the plastic utensils, cups, and napkins were located. I tried to keep one eye on Sam, but I didn’t want to get in trouble for not listening to Christy, so I really didn’t follow up on what he was doing.
I figured it out later that day about 2 p.m. It was hot, so according to Christy’s schedule, we would be riding something in air conditioning. Today, it was the Pirates of the Caribbean—one of my favorites. As we left the dock and launched out into the dark, out of the corner of my eye I thought I saw Sam going overboard.
I quickly grabbed his shirt and pulled him back into the boat. “What are you doing, Sam?” I whispered very loudly.
“Just getting some water,” he said without emotion. Then he held up the plastic container he retrieved earlier that morning during Christy’s monologue. “I’m getting one from every water ride.”
3 out of the 7 containers that Sam gathered during the trip
Christy’s detailed plan of productivity meant nothing to Sam. He had devised his own scheme to make memories for this trip. Sure, he heard the plan every morning like the rest of us, but in his mind it merely represented a means to an end.
We didn’t consult Sam—or the other boys for that matter—about what they wanted to do every day. We told them. It was a dictatorship, and Sam was staging his own coup.
Forbes magazine just published a great article on why Donald Trump has this bromance with Vladimir Putin of Russia. Putin runs Russia like Trump runs his business. According to the Donald, Putin, “…makes a decision, executes it quickly, and forces everyone to react. That’s what you call a leader.”
The problem is, this type of leadership is outdated. Businesses that sustain success enjoy the buy-in of employees throughout the company. The command-and-control leadership that Trump demonstrates is great at first, because it promises a turnaround, but eventually that type of management usually wears thin. Sounds a lot like his political campaign, doesn’t it?
Christy went all authoritarian on our Disney trip, which is really unlike her. She usually is quite the diplomat—wanting everyone to be happy, together, and on-board with decisions—because she knows that builds relationship.
Sam went through the motions on the trip, but mentally, he was staging his own revolution. When he got the chance, he broke free and bent the rules to do his own thing. If you rule your business as a dictator, your employees will do the same.
These three simple steps will help.
(1) Every now and then, ask their opinion. Doesn’t have to be on every decision, nor should it, but just make it a point to ask. When all communication is top down, people become resentful over time.
(2) Be generous with feedback. Keep in mind that employees need positive feedback to remain engaged, but use negative feedback to teach … in an encouraging way. Negative feedback is ALWAYS emotional, so use it with discretion.
(3) Break off a piece of your authority and give it to a team or an individual. Give them the power to make decisions. Want people to rave about your company? About you? Do this and watch what happens.
Sam collected about seven containers on that trip, but sadly they have all evaporated over time. I guess we’ll just have to go back. But this time, without Christy’s schedule.
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