As many of you who have followed my work for years might know, my all-time favorite film is Frank Capra’s timeless classic, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” starring James Stewart and Donna Reed.
While we still have a full week to go before the “anniversary” of George Bailey’s fateful day on Christmas Eve in 1946 (using the film’s release date as a guide), it’s never too early to dig deep into this classic.
You don’t need me to recount the movie. Even if you aren’t an enthusiast like me, you will likely be familiar with the storyline.
I first watched the movie on my birthday, December 31, 1988. You may ask how could I possible know this. Weird, huh?
Other than I remember vividly holding my two month old daughter, Mindy while Barb was at work. I had the day off and was enjoying some one-on-one time with my new daughter. For those of you who remember 1988, options like Netflix, Paramount, and HBO were non-existent. Amazon was just a river. And my options were limited to what came across the television on cable.
Someone was still carrying the movie a week past its prime showing period. I had never seen it, but knew the plot. I figured it was time to see why it was so popular. So with baby in arms and little expectation, we sat down to watch it.
I’ve never stopped.
I don’t know exactly what it is about George Bailey that connects so emotionally with me and countless others. Somewhere in him, we men may manifest our identity as husbands, fathers, sons, business leaders, and friends. I know that is the case for me, especially over the years as I’ve aged from being much younger that George, to much older. That synergy still exists for me.
I wondered what emotionally moves women in this movie, so I asked the first person I ever “watched” it with. Mindy is now in her mid-30s and we still watch it together. I asked her and this is a summary of her brilliant response:
On a human level, we are susceptible to imposter syndrome. There are times in all our lives where we may not see ourselves as the person whom everyone else sees us as.
No matter your gender, my belief is that Mindy hit the nail on the head. For men who might more closely associate with George Bailey, those roles we play may get more amplified. But make no mistake, we as humans have a desire to actually be that person everyone else sees us as. That includes friendship.
With that thought in mind, allow me me share five timeless lessons that are as relevant today as they were in 1946 when the movie first graced the silver screen:
1. Guardian Angels in Disguise: We all have them, often unseen. They could be family, friends, colleagues, or mentors, offering support, guidance, tough love, or congratulations. Embrace this support network; nobody achieves success in isolation.
2. The Art of Perseverance: Both in our personal lives and in business, challenges are usually temporary. The key is to manage what we can and accept what’s beyond our control, persistently moving forward.
3. Crisis as Opportunity: Every crisis holds a lesson, much like George Bailey’s critical moment. It’s about finding perspective, learning from it, and using that insight to foster change and growth in our lives.
4. Be Someone’s Guardian Angel: Just as George Bailey was a guardian angel to many, we have the power to positively impact others’ lives. Aim to be a force for good, a supporter, and a mentor.
5. The Power of Friendship: The quote from Clarence is timeless, let’s embrace it – “No one is a failure who has friends.” The value of true friendship is immeasurable and something I, and hopefully you, cherish deeply.
BONUS: You’re not an imposter. There is no doubt in my mind that every person reading this has been influential in the lives and conditions of others. We tend to be our own worst critics, often to the detriment of our own advancement in life. It’s always a good time to see ourselves as others see us. Let’s be a friend to ourselves.
As we celebrate the holiday season, whether you’re observing Christmas or simply spending time with loved ones, let’s remember the importance of those connections. Because, truly, no one is a failure who has friends.
Keep Chasing Unleashed.
“Strange isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. And when he isn’t around he leaves ab awful hole, doesn’t he?”
~ Clarence Oddbody, Angel First Class
Note: The image above is one of my prized possessions, an autographed picture of the final scene of the movie by Karolyn Grimes (aka ZuZu). Barb and the girls were at a women’s show where Ms. Grimes was signing autographs and they thought of me!
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