Learning to Fly Without Wings

We spend our time figuring out complex solutions to our problems or work on forward-thinking ways to resolve our issues. Sometimes the answers are so simple that we just can’t see them.

“To infinity – and beyond!”

Sound familiar? Buzz Lightyear cheered those words in Disney’s Toy Story. He’s famous for that inspiring little message. Let’s see what we can learn from Buzz in relation to online ventures.

The Web is a Strange, Strange Place

Mr. Lightyear came out of nowhere (or so he thought). He landed in a foreign place with strange people. He had no clue where he was. It was confusing. The people were odd. He had to learn and adapt.

Buzz had big problems; he had no support. No one understood him. He was alone in this curious world. When asked who he was, Buzz stood proud and recited the mantra. (It had something to do with the Intergalactic Alliance Team and the Gamma Quadrant, but that’s not really important.)

Everyone laughed.

Now, let’s be honest. Each of us trying to build a web-based business or an online enterprise has probably faced some of the same skepticism as poor Buzz. “You do what for a living? On the Internet. Uh huh. You really make money at that?”

Yes. Yes we do. Or we try, at the very least.

Internet Adversity

Buzz tried to face the laughter, but poor Lightyear also faced all kinds of problems. His laser didn’t work. His communicator was dead. And people kept insisting he was just a toy. He couldn’t fly.

Things weren’t looking good.

But Buzz Lightyear, Space Ranger, firmly believed in himself despite what everyone said about him. He refused to acknowledge that he was just a child’s plaything. He insisted that, yes, he could fly. He was proud of himself and his accomplishments.

Buzz would show them all.

Call Buzz stubborn, call him delusional, call him what you will, but he faced every obstacle down. He found solutions. He overcame obstacles. He stepped out as a leader and resolved the issues that held him back.

Buzz had confidence – and that’s what we all need.

We need to put up with the skepticism and the lack of support. We need to endure the tough times and face the obstacles. We have to focus on believing in ourselves and keep trying.

That’s the key.

Buzz Lightyear, Space Ranger, despite all ridicule and adversity, found his way to fly. Will you?

Post by James Chartrand

James Chartrand is an expert copywriter and the owner of Men with Pens and Damn Fine Words, the game-changing writing course for business owners. She loves the color blue, her kids, Nike sneakers and ice skating.

Join the Discussion. Click Here to Leave a Comment.

  1. It’s all in our minds, isn’t it. The way we think determines our actions. If you don’t believe you’re creative, you probably won’t be very creative. If you believe you will be successful, you have a good chance at it.

    Didn’t Buzz at the end finally figure out he was a toy (or in the second movie)? At that point, he realized his limitations. But then once he realized his limitations, it actually made him even stronger (because he perceived the world in a different (toy) way and could build from there).

    Now, where’s my cape? 😉

    John Hoffs last blog post..The Continuity Of My Blog – Putting It All Together

  2. Belief is everything. Without it, you don’t act.

    It just shows you how far you can get with a smile, some swagger … and an enormous green and purple space suit. :-p

    Dave Navarros last blog post..Do You Even Believe You Can Get Your Life Balanced?

  3. Woody Allen said that 90 percent of success is just showing up. Writer and business executive Christine Comaford amended that and said 90 percent of success is follow-through.

    I always understood Allen to mean showing up as a continuous process, so that gets closer to Comaford’s statement. In the blog world, showing up and follow through are they keys to everything. Aren’t they?

    Buzz did both.

    Bill K.s last blog post..Open-source science … you’re invited

  4. Wow! That worked way better than I thought it would.

    Nice message of inspiration and doing whatever it takes no matter the obstacles and handicaps you’ve got, almost brings a tear to the eye.

    And I thought I was a dork for working on a series of ‘investing secrets of pirates’ (still in the works, mind you).

    Wait… I am.

    To infinity – and beyond! Ah ha ha ha!

    Jeremys last blog post..The Cat’s Guide To Bottom Fishing

  5. James,

    Great movie. I know what you have been watching lately. This was a very inspirational post and really got me thinking about areas in my life that were obsticles. So what if Buzz flew with the help of a matchbox car, he still flew and proved everyone wrong.

    Oh, and thanks for quoting my favorite line “You are a child’s play thing!” I just about rolled out of my chair when I read that, oh the memories.

  6. You can draw parallels to Pixar any time. My wife and I are about to take a massive leap of faith, without a safety net. The only thing that will make it happen for us is to believe that we can hit Infinity and Beyond (even if we crash into a couple of stars along the way).

    Writer Dads last blog post..Crabs Don’t Walk Straight For a Reason

  7. Course,

    Buzz eventually learns that he really is a toy, that he CAN’T fly, and experiences a deep depression until he learns to accept himself as the lesser being he is.

  8. I think the hard part is not necessarily having the faith that you can do it. The hard part is changing the beliefs you have that cause you to think you can’t in the first place.

    Once you change your thinking (which is far easier said than done but is possible), the belief that you CAN, the confidence of which you speak, is a natural result.

    @ Cynic: See John Hoff’s response. It goes…beyond.

    stephs last blog post..Know Thyself

  9. PointSpecial says:

    Great inspiration… especially for people who are just starting out and who might be hitting a wall!

    No matter what people are saying, the entrepreneur with the idea is the one taking the risk. The people who take potshots from a safe place are the ones who won’t get “to infinity and beyond!”

  10. smiling.

    Buzz has my vote.

    Douglas Adam’s said flying is a matter of throwing yourself at the ground and missing. He also said don’t look down at all the folks trying to distract you from the actual flying.

    Show up. Believe. And get a good matchbox car when you need it.

    Infinity and beyond.

    Janice C Cartiers last blog post..Godiva Chocoiste and Men, or Hoping To Get Lucky

  11. Brett Legree says:

    If you can’t explain a concept to a five-year old in five minutes, your concept is full of shit. Doubly full of shit if you have to use words with more than two syllables.

    Things are simple. We over analyze them. I do it myself. Instead of just doing it, I think about it, again and again.

    When meanwhile, just screaming “To infinity – and beyond!” would do it.

    So you know what you want to do – start at it, and tell yourself, “I’ll figure it out”.

    I know this company, they made a nuclear reactor way back when, and nobody there had a clue how to do it, no computers, no nothing – they just said, “we want to make a nuclear reactor”. And they did it. They made lots of adjustments as they went along.

    But it worked…

    Fast forward 50 years. Computers, QA, five times the employees. Too much second guessing. No guts. Lots of brains. But no guts. Couldn’t make a reactor to save their lives.

    I’m sure too many years of working at a company “like that one” slowed me down. Every once in a while, I have this moment where I realize, “I am so much greater than this”.

    These moments are happening more often these days…

    No guts, no glory.

    Brett Legrees last blog post..viking fridays – the worst sickness.

  12. I agree that believing in oneself is paramount. It’s when you stop believing in yourself that you begin to give up.

    Bamboo Forests last blog post..The Frightening Truth about Bloggers

  13. Brett Legree says:


    Good point, and it made me think. Is it sort of like respect?

    If you don’t respect yourself, no one else will respect you either.

    So if you don’t believe in yourself, no one else will believe in you.

    And where will that leave you?

    Plenty of folks have done quite well by having a strong self-belief, and figuring out the rest on the fly. The best idea in the world will stagnate without belief.

    Brett Legrees last blog post..viking fridays – the worst sickness.

  14. @Brett: true, true, true.

    For me, though, it’s not knowing this stuff. Everyone says it, many recognize it to be true. The trouble is putting it all into action. The only way to live it, I think, is to really believe I am great, that I can do or offer what no one else can. I suppose confidence mostly comes from genuine self-esteem. How does one really acquire that when one lacks it?

    Suddenly, I think the answer comes to me. I just remembered something James said to me once: fake it. Start out by faking that self-confidence. And maybe you don’t know everything just yet but you’ll pick it up when the time comes. And then, as you go along and find you are actually successful at what you’re doing, that you are indeed good at it, that self-esteem, that confidence, that belief that you are great and can do it, will come.


    I guess I need the guts, then, to “fake it” for a while! 🙂

    stephs last blog post..Know Thyself

  15. Brett Legree says:


    (further to our other chat, to share with everyone here)


    Lots of people believe in things they’ve never seen physically, that they’ve never experienced, that they cannot prove beyond a shadow of a doubt.

    God, UFO’s, the Flying Spaghetti Monster… hey, they’re all real because we believe in them.

    Seriously though – Steven Covey – all things are created twice, first in the mind, and then in the physical world.

    Experience, success, victory – these things are no different. They are created first in the mind, and then in the physical world.

    The greatest idea in the world without belief in self… will not go anywhere.

    A pretty good idea with incredible belief in self… really good chance of going somewhere, because that same idea can be improved on the way.

    Brett Legrees last blog post..viking fridays – the worst sickness.

  16. Urban Panther says:

    Let’s get the important stuff out of the way first. James, this is your reminder. *grin*

    I actually liked Chicken Run. Those chickens just kept on trying with their escape plan even if it meant being locked up in a coal bin (“Back from vacation, dearie?”) , and splatting turnips against the wall (my favourite laugh out loud scene). It’s a little hard for me at the moment to visualize my end goal, or even the steps along the way, because I have never attempted to start my own business before. But, like those chickens, I’m going to keep on trying. I, personally, found Buzz a bit naive and delusional. At least the chickens are realistic about the hard work it will take to achieve their goals.

    Urban Panthers last blog post..He’s a scamp

  17. @ Brett: Thanks for expanding on my point. Excellent insight!

    Bamboo Forests last blog post..The Frightening Truth about Bloggers

  18. @steph – one way to combat those feelings of “I can’t” you mentioned is to use the Tick-Tock method.

    For every negative reason why you tell yourself “I can’t,” write that down. Then immediately write down 2 or 3 reasons why you CAN do it. Keep doing this every time and after a while you’ll notice you’re training your mind to automatically respond to the “I can’t” thoughts with a couple reason why you can.

    Little something I picked up when I was on Mars.

    John Hoffs last blog post..The Continuity Of My Blog – Putting It All Together

  19. Brett Legree says:

    Just to build on what John said, another way of doing it is replace the word “can’t” with the word “won’t” – and then ask yourself, “Why not?”

    Works every time.

    Brett Legrees last blog post..viking fridays – the worst sickness.

  20. Good one, Brett. Just as long as the answer isn’t, “Because.” LOL

    John Hoffs last blog post..The Continuity Of My Blog – Putting It All Together

  21. I love when my comment section talks with each other. Guys? You rock.

    *raises glass* Cheers. Infinity and beyond.

  22. Brett Legree says:


    The answer is never “because”… though sometimes when the answer is, “I’m not sure right now”, the next answer is “beer”… 🙂


    Agreed. You get the award today for “super awesome comments section”.

    Brett Legrees last blog post..viking fridays – the worst sickness.

  23. @ Josh Hoff: I love that insight regarding writing down why you can etc. Very nice.

    Bamboo Forests last blog post..The Frightening Truth about Bloggers

  24. @Panther: I have to laugh because I liked Chicken Run too – and now I have to go watch it!

    @James: I’d watch Toy Story, but would you believe that’s one movie I don’t have in my collection?

    Guess it’s time to go out and buy some more animated movies.

  25. Urban Panther says:

    @Harry – that turnip splatting against the wall sends me into hysterics everytime. SPLAT!

    Urban Panthers last blog post..He’s a scamp

  26. @ John and Brett: excellent ideas! Thanks. In fact, I’m going to make that list right now and see what I come up with. I have to admit, when you said to then write out reasons why you can, I was pessimistic! Sheesh. The stupid thing is, I don’t even know why I would think I can’t. No one but me has ever drilled that into me, and I can’t think of why I’m so hard on myself. Maybe unrealistic expectations. Deciding and anticipating for others what they will think of me (which is unfair).

    I like the idea of changing can’t to won’t. It actually makes me kinda mad. Challenges me. Oh, you won’t, eh? (Put ’em up, put ’em up…)

    stephs last blog post..Know Thyself

  27. @Joff
    No capes! Didn’t The Incredibles teach you that? 😉

    Pixar is awesome at inspiration – think of Ratatouille and the latest, WALL-E – two films about creatures who are more than what they appear to be, face ridicule and win out in the end.

    Alex Fayles last blog post..Introducing the Lab-Rats

  28. Okay, posting way too early…

    “Joff” seems to be a contraction of John Hoff – oops!

  29. @Alex: “Joff”…way funny. John, you got a new nickname!

    I agree. No capes and The Incredibles rocked

  30. Yeah, I do tend to over-complicate things, then overwhelm myself before I even start. For example, working with MySQL and databases. I psyched myself out about them, but when I finally got the courage to start working with them, I found out that it was so much easier than I thought it would be. Sometimes, I do just need to make the jump (or have someone push me when I hesitate!)

    Funny, “To Infinity and Beyond” was the theme for my middle school graduation. I’m surprised I even remember that!

    Alex – I LOVED Ratatouille. Haven’t gotten to see WALL-E quite yet.

    Harry – I’ve definitely watched The Incredibles quite a few times. Love that movie. 🙂

    Allisons last blog post..Carburetor

  31. Nice story to convey a powerful message. “There is no use whatsoever trying to help people who do not help themselves. You cannot push anyone up a ladder unless he is willing to climb himself.” – Andrew Carnegie

    Nicole Prices last blog post..My Tryst With Hard Drive Recovery

  32. James,
    this post couldn’t have come at a better time for me. I really needed this word of encouragement as I labored to get things done with launching the new website (another fine design by the Pen Men) and my computer was misbehaving and shutting down on me all day long and causing glitches and problems. I felt like throwing it out the window and giving up but then I came here and read all about Buzz and his problems with things not working and thought…heck..Buzz wouldn’t have given up…

    Back I went and got the job done.

    You always seem to know just what to write when I need to read it. What a gift.

    Thanks James. Thanks Buzz!

  33. You guys are all cracking me up LOL!!!

    @ Harry and Alex – the capes thing I think might have been an inside joke to James. In James’ last post he mentioned how he’s a superhero and I told him I wanted to see his cape. He told me to remember that when this post came around.

    Also, I can live with Joff – that’s way better than the name people have given me in the past which was “Jack.” If you don’t see it, look up at my name.

    @ steph – You’re funny LOL. I never had someone tell me the first thing they needed to write down was the assignment itself and then 2 reasons why the assignment was good and you could do it. heheheh.

    If it’s ok with James and Harry, here’s a link to that post I wrote: 8+ Ways To Train Yourself To Be Creative.

    John Hoffs last blog post..The Continuity Of My Blog – Putting It All Together

  34. @ Jack Hoff – That link is fine with us. Thanks for asking 🙂 Now to go grin my way through my day each time I think of you.

  35. Glad to be a source of your amusement for the day, James. 😉 LOL

    John Hoffs last blog post..The Continuity Of My Blog – Putting It All Together

  36. I always the remember the look on Buzz’s face when he realised he was a toy and not a real Space Ranger. He looked so sad seeing row upon row of boxed-up Buzz’s wating to fly off the shelf.

    Thinking that he was one of many and that there was nothing special about himself, he just kinda gave up.

    It was only when he remembered what was important to him that he reconnected with himself and that true confidence came blazing through again.

    That’s what true confidence is – being able to choose your behaviour based on what’s most important to you and trusting that you’ll be okay no matter what.

    It’s pretty cool.

  37. Our potential is often self imposed. Believe in what you can do and by God, go out and do it! Expect obstacles but do not expect failure. It’s sad to see people with such a good idea quit after hitting a few obstacles.

    Urbane Lions last blog post..The Naked Lion

  38. @ Steve – Hoy! This post was right up your alley, wasn’t it – very cool.

    Everyone, meet Steve. I like Steve. Steve writes well, too, so go visit his blog. It’s blue and I love blue. And I like Steve, so if you visit, he’ll be happy and I’ll be happy. S’how it works.

    @ Lion – HOY! Tabernack! About time!

    Everyone, meet Lion. I like Lion as much as I like Steve, only in a different way, because he’s French, calisse. Compatriot in arms and all that jazz. Plus he’s cool. So go visit his blog too and imagine the French accent, because I’m sure he has one – 😉

  39. James tabarnak! What you mean I ave accent?

    Urbane Lions last blog post..The Naked Lion

  40. Toy Story was a great movie, and I think Buzz was my favorite. I love your analogy here, and it’s so true. We shall fly….

    Amy Derbys last blog post..Controversy: the Always Hot Topic for Freelance Writers/Bloggers?

  41. Hi James,

    It’s just right the time, I believe, that God sent me this article of yours – to look at each problem with a positive belief that it too will pass off.
    I just got my blog designed through a great friend, and after that my system started giving problems and the internet too is unavailable in the place where I stay and list is unending…
    Literally, I lost patience and I’m saddened and broken… But only to take strength from article and have a smile on my face to do the extra work to make it happen.
    Thanks for the inspiration… I believe your articles do mean a lot to me, indeed.

  42. But as memory serves… Buzz never actually flew, he was simply “falling with style”. Loved the movie… loved the post.

  43. Ijust need too learn how too fly so then i can become the greatest fighter in The universe


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  2. 6 Weeks says:

    […] Buzz Lightyear was just a toy.  But he believed he could fly, in his own way.  Learned to fly without wings. […]

  3. […] fault and Brett’s fault and James’s fault and their round robin Blog discussion of Buzz Lightyear which lead to Faking It which lead to comments from Steph about perfectionism on her blog In Other […]

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