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As a loyal reader, by now you’ve probably figured out that I am an avid Disney fan.  I am a proud seasonal pass holder to Disney World in Orlando, Florida, I act like an overjoyed child at Christmas whenever I discover a Disney store in a mall and I usually see their movies either as soon as they are released to theaters or DVD.  Disney’s latest release, Zootopia, does not disappoint. Imagine a world filled with animals that eat, talk, work, dress, relate and act and live as humans do. In my opinion, it is Disney’s way of holding a giant mirror up to our human world to provide insight into how we operate.

Zootopia follows the unusual partnership between a rabbit police officer and a red fox con artist as they discover a conspiracy that involves the disappearance of citizens within their city of mammals. And as colorful, funny and intriguing as the characters and the plot line were, it was the life journey of the main character, Judy Hopps voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin that made an impact on me. Like most Disney movies, as I was watching the scenes unfold I found myself muttering under my breath “whoa”, “yep” and “man, that is just what I needed to hear right now” which seems strange sitting in a theater filled with kids who are there to be entertained.  But in Zootopia, Judy Hopps gave me the inspiration I needed to Dream Big and Never Give up!

Each and every one of us has a desire to accomplish something before we leave this Earth. Whether it is a dream to own your own business, to travel to exotic and fun places, to experience loving, caring and powerful relationships, to have the freedom and flexibility to do what you want when you want it or to live a stress free life, you can do it as long as you hold the dream and never give up.  But often, life circumstances divert us from those dreams and we end up losing them or settling for something less than we set out to achieve.

Personally and professionally, I have a dream to empower every person on this planet regardless of age, gender, race, socioeconomic or educational level to see themselves a leader.  My definition of a leader is someone who lives their best life as their best self and empowers others to do the same.  Can you imagine how awesome, fun, unified, connected and loving our world would be when I accomplish this dream?  I do every time I hear about all the negative things going on in our world.  However, these same bad happenings quickly convince me that my dream is unrealistic, that there is no way in today’s world that I can transform leadership in that manner.

Lucky for me, Zootopia came along because I needed a jump start to keep pursuing my dream that seems too big to for me to achieve.  You see, Judy had a lifelong dream to become a police officer in the big metropolis of Zootopia.  However, friends and family, especially her parents, Stu and Bonnie Hopps in their attempt to protect Judy from disappointment remind Judy that “It’s great to have big dreams. (Stu Hopps). Yeah, just as long as you don’t believe in them too much. (Bonnie Hopps).”  Luckily, Judy ‘s desire to become a police officer is so strong that she does not allow her parent’s jaded view or her friends constant ribbing that she can’t possibly be a police officer stop her from going for her dream.  When she hits adulthood, she makes a choice to ignore the disbelievers and moves to the big city of Zootopia to attend the Police Academy.  When she gets to the Police Academy, her fellow students and instructors make it apparent they don’t feel she belongs nor do they believe she can complete the strenuous training and for a moment in the movie it appears Judy is going to give up on her dream.  But she doesn’t! Instead, we watch Judy dig deep to drum up the energy and courage to pursue her dream of becoming a police office.  Judy persists through the training achieving feats she had not been able to complete in the previous weeks.  As Judy becomes more confident, you can see that she changes the attitudes for her fellow classmates who shift from non-believers into cheerleaders from her completion of the strenuous training program.

Judy achieves the first milestone of her dream by graduating from the Police Academy.  Right after graduation, she is appointed to the Zootopia police force as part of the Mayor’s inclusion program.  Confident that she has “arrived”, Judy’s perseverance is tested once again.    On her first day, anxious to get that first real police assignment to something big like a robbery or homicide, Judy gets put in her place by the Chief of police, Chief Bogo, voice by Idris Elba.  Unlike her fellow police officers, Judy is assigned to the mundane task of parking duty while the rest of the force is tasked with finding the citizens of Zootopia who continue to mysteriously disappear.  Frustrated with her treatment, Judy goes to Chief Bogo’s office, to share her disappointment and plead her case.  His response?  “Life isn’t some cartoon musical where you sing a little song and all your insipid dreams magically come true. So let it go.” 

At this point, Judy could have pursued her parking patrol duties with a disgruntled attitude; however, she decided to set her standards high and instead of writing the 100 parking tickets Chief Bogo expected, she set out to write 200 tickets to demonstrate that she is the best parking police officer on the force.  And in setting this goal so high, Judy stumbled upon the case of a lifetime.  For the rest of the movie, we watch Judy use her tenacity, curiosity, and drive to be the best police officer in Zootopia to solve the mystery of the disappearing citizens.  As I watched Judy’s dream unfold I caught myself thinking of that unfulfilled dream that felt impossible and was continuously inspired throughout the movie and beyond to be more like Judy.  Persist and let nothing stand in my way to transforming people into leaders!

In closing, I must include the speech Judy gave at the awards ceremony where she was honored for cracking the mystery of the disappearing citizens.

“I thought this city would be a perfect place where everyone got along and anyone could be anything. Turns out, life’s a little bit more complicated than a slogan on a bumper sticker. Real life is messy. We all have limitations. We all make mistakes. Which means, hey, glass half full, we all have a lot in common. And the more we try to understand one another, the more exceptional each of us will be. But we have to try. So no matter what kind of person you are, I implore you: Try. Try to make the world a better place. Look inside yourself and recognize that change starts with you.”

Well said Judy!  And for all of you out there with big dreams, be more like Judy Hobbs and dream big and never give up on your dreams.  To your dreams and…….. remember you are a leader!

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