Quotes And Leadership Lessons From Disney’s Wish

A Reel Leadership Article

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Thanksgiving weekend saw the release of the latest Walt Disney Animation Studios. That movie? The heartwarming Wish.

Written by Jennifer Lee, Allison Moore, and Chris Book and directed by Chris Buck and Fawn Veerasunthorn, Wish tells the story of the young Asha (Ariana DeBose). Asha is a precocious young woman who desires to be an apprentice to King Magnifico (Chris Pine). Little did she know how evil the king was.

Asha, a young girl from the movie Wish, looking up with a blue background with circles

Upon finding out, she’s disgraced. Kicked out of the palace. Sent on a new journey. 

As she’s bemoaning the fact that the king is evil and stealing the dreams of his citizens, Asha wishes upon a star. This wish changes everything.

This story lends itself well to leadership principles, especially since you can see the negative path King Magnifico took. Let’s take a look at the leadership lessons in Wish!

Quotes And Leadership Lessons From Disney’s Wish

1. Bad leaders often start with good intentions:

King Magnifico wasn’t always the bad king he became. Rather, King Magnifico’s original desires were honest. 

The king had an extremely traumatizing event happen to him in the past. It’s never clearly defined what happened but it appears to be something to do with his family. 

Because his wish brought ruin, he wanted to prevent others from facing the same consequence. He began to collect the wishes of his people. As they handed over their wishes, they forgot about those dreams and desires they longed for. They became walking generalities.

Yet, the king had a “good” reason for doing this. In the end, his good intentions turned to evil intent as he kept collecting the wishes and realized they brought him great power.

So many leaders start off with good intentions only to see those intentions turn to evil. They begin to understand the power they wield. They see how they have control. It’s intoxicating.

Slowly, they go from being that good leader who wants to help others to the leader who hordes power for themself. 

As you rise the leadership ranks, be aware of this leadership pitfall. The more influence you gain, the easier it can be to slip into a me-first leadership style.

2. Practice before you act:

Asha wanted to become an apprentice of King Magnifico. She had an interview lined up and everything!

Despite making the shortlist of candidates, Asha was nervous about the interview. She was worried she’d say the wrong thing, act inappropriately, or some other mistake.

This is when Asha did the right thing. She talked with her friend, Dahlia (Jennifer Kumiyama), who suggested they do a mock interview. 

Dhalia began to ask Asha questions the king might ask. Asha would answer. They would decide whether or not the answers were good enough.

Great leaders know they have to practice before they act. They will try to get a lay of the situation. Then, they will get together with someone and act through the scenario ahead.

They will role-play to figure out how to respond. 

This is a great way to get a grasp of what you’re about to do. Have a friend ask questions and respond. You’ll get more confident and understand the assignment. This will make the situations you have to respond to much easier.

3. Queen Amaya (Angelique Cabral):

I’m rooting for you.

King Magnifico’s wife, Queen Amaya, brings Asha into the interview. She shares that she’s watched Asha grow up and that she’s excited for the woman she’s becoming.

She also did something else. Queen Amaya let Asha know she was rooting for her.

This meant Asha had someone in her corner.

What does this mean for you? It means you’re the person rooting for those in your charge. Leaders are cheerleaders.

They see the good others are doing. Then, they exalt the good. They promote others. 

Be a cheerleading leader.

4. Great leaders want to see more for their people:

Wish was filled with fantastic songs. One of those songs is This Wish. It’s a song lamenting what she discovered about the king and the wishes. She wants to see more for the people of the kingdom.

The song is her lament. She feels weighed down by the truth. She feels that people have been done wrong. She desires for more.

Listen to the song below.

One of your responsibilities as a leader is to help your people become and do more than they’re currently doing. You have the power within you to see this happen.

Empower your people. Give them what they need to thrive; don’t take away the things they need (like King Magnifico did). You’re a giving leader.

Help your team to thrive and reach their potential.

5. It’s easy to miss the progress you’re making:

Asha wished upon a star to set the people of Rosas free. She wanted them to have their wishes back. In doing so, she discovered she literally wished upon a star and the Star responded. 

Star appeared in a very Super Mario Galaxy form. Star then sprinkled stardust on Valentino (Alan Tudyk), Asha’s pet goat. 

He bahs a few times and then begins to speak. The audience hears him say, “When’s the magic supposed to start?”

That’s when Valentino realizes he can speak!

We grow and transform ourselves regularly. The more information we take in and process, the more we can understand, lead through, and guide others to. 

The problem? We’re like Valentino. The people we lead are like Valentino.

We don’t see the growth we’ve accomplished through our daily activities. 

Steady growth is great. It’s also easy to miss. Don’t forget that you’re a lot further along than you think. You’ve made great strides. 

Be proud of how far you’ve come. You’ve made great progress!

6. Have a strong friend group:

Asha had a strong friend group. Her friends included:

  • Dahila
  • Bazeema (Della Saba)
  • Dario (Jon Rudnitsky)
  • Gabo (Harvey Guillén)
  • Hal (Niko Vargas)
  • Safi (Ramy Youssef)

When the king announced an amateur magician was trying to usurp him, her friends began questioning the king at the announcement. They knew Asha wasn’t evil or trying to overtake the throne. 

Why’d they do this? Asha needed time to get to the wishes held captive by the king. She needed to see what could be done.

Her friends helped her do this.

Who are your friends? Do you even have friends? It’s been said leadership is lonely.

That’s true. But I also know leadership is lonely because we fail to have a strong friend group. 

Go out and find a group of friends that are supportive of you. They will help you when you need it and challenge you when you really need it.

Leaders cannot be effective without a strong friend group holding them up.

7. Sabino (Victor Garber)

I should never have given Magnifico my wish.

Sabino is Asha’s 100-year-old grandfather. He gave up his wish to King Magnifico when he was 18 years old. For the next 82 years, he couldn’t remember what he longed for.

That all changed once Asha brought him his dream bubble.

Sabino saw that his wish was to inspire future generations. He wanted to be someone who brought joy and happiness to those around him. In my eyes, it could be said that Sabino wanted to be a leader.

He gave it all up, though, when he willingly gave King Magnifico his wish.

How many of us have lived lives of less than because we’ve given up on our dreams? We may have desired to be an artist, musician, astronaut, or some other far-flung dream.


Those dreams are important. When you give up on them, you give up a piece of yourself.

Looking back, I see that I’d always dreamed of writing. As far back as elementary school, I would write stories about epic battles between the Autobots and Decepticons of Transformers lore. There were also stories of GI Joe and Voltron.

These dreams transitioned from what I thought but when I rediscovered the passion of writing, things changed. Something came alive.

Take back those dreams you’ve given up. They’re a special part of you that you need to explore.

8. Mouse (Holland Watkins):

Generosity is the true heart of Rosas.

Asha and Star saw that the Queen was scared of the King now. The King had transitioned from a man of good will to one of ill will. 

As they watched the fear wash over her, Star snuck off. He went to a mouse and gave it the power to speak. The mouse then went to the Queen to remind her of what she’d always said.

Generosity was the heart of Rosas. It’s what made it special. This was changing as the King changed and it needed to be stopped.

I’m often reminded of this as I lace up my running shoes to run outside. Running is a passion of mine that I enjoy for the physical benefits, but I have also been able to use running to stir up the generosity of myself and others through Team World Vision. For 2024, I have been invited, and accepted, the invitation to run the London Marathon for clean water.

The best leaders I have met have generously given to their employees. They understand that their employees are often paid less than they’re worth and need to be rewarded. They take it upon themselves to offer extra perks, incentives, and bonuses to their employees’ income.

Be a leader who is generous, even dangerously generous, to their people. A generous leader is a great leader.

9. Asha:

I don’t understand you at all.

Star had given Asha a magic-imbued stick to fend off King Magnifico. The first time Asha used the stick/wand, an apple increased in size. On further uses, the wand produced strange effects.

Some of those effects include:

  • Exposing her hiding spot
  • Dress on tree
  • The large apple

Asha didn’t understand how or why the wand worked. It did strange things. It didn’t do what she wanted it to do.

Doesn’t this feel like leadership? You’re leading a team of unique individuals. Each one has their own desires, wants, and actions. 

Many times, those employees will do something different from what you desire. You struggle to understand their actions. 

Here’s the thing… In Wish, the wand helped Asha despite her understanding of why it did what it did. What if we looked at the people we lead in the same way? We may not understand their actions, but they move the organization forward.

Look for the positive, even if you don’t understand why or what.

10. Things work better when we work together:

Asha’s friends had gone to the tower holding the wishes of the people of Rosas. They struggled to open the roof using the pulley system that was in place.

The friends would pull the ropes randomly. One would pull at this time and another would pull at a different time. 

Never in unison. 

Then, one of the friends suggested they pull all of the ropes at once, together. This helped them open the roof and release the wishes. 

Organizations act a lot like Asha’s friends. Everyone is trying to do something, but that something isn’t in unison. It’s through their own singular efforts.

Power happens when we work together. The Bible states this truth in Ecclesiastes 4:9-12. This scripture tells us that two are better off than one, because together they can work more effectively.

Stop trying to work apart from one another. Pull the team together to work as one.

You’ll discover the work is easier and more gets done.


For the month of December, I’ve partnered with The Gateway Church in Ferrysburg, MI with a special project called Christmas At The Movies. I will be adding an additional post on the last Thursday of November and then each Thursday of December. This post will feature leadership lessons from a Christmas movie that will also be covered the following Sunday at the church. I hope you’ll join me and the church for this extra special series. The first post will be on November 30th and feature leadership lessons from The Grinch.

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