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People

It’s a Wonderful Life

By National Telefilm Associates (Screenshot of the movie) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Each Christmas Eve we watch “It’s a Wonderful Life”.  Wonderfully sentimental & full of humanity, it’s a classic film and seems to be a great reflective way to start Christmas and be appreciative for what we have.

The other morning, there was an interview on the radio with Karolyn Grimes who played little “Zuzu” – I think she might be the only surviving cast member from this 1946 film.

Wisdom at work

In the interview, she described how she learnt on the film-set from people like of James Stewart & Frank Capra that it’s OK to make mistakes.  As a 5/6 year old child actress, I think such support and teaching must have had a profound & lasting influence on Karolyn.

She also touched upon the moral outlook of the banker “George Bailey” in the film played by James Stewart.  Karolyn shared these core observations about his character:

    • He cares about the people working and helping the bank to survive
    • He has a heart & a system of ethics

What caught my attention here was a sense of wisdom which has been passed down and has endured despite Karolyn’s remarkable & tragic life.  For me I think the following quote from her captures this well:

“There have been adverse things happen in my own life, but there are balances out there. And the movie itself has affected my life so much because I have George Bailey’s philosophy … that friendships and caring and loving will carry you through anything … I really feel like Zuzu is kind of a mission maybe, I don’t know. I think that there is a higher power at work and that I had to go through a lot of adverse situations in my life to understand other people’s pain.”

Wisdom & work

I’m taking a few things from this which I think we can reflect upon in our work:

  1. Our employees, supporters & clients are our true fans.  Care deeply for them and they will reciprocate, sometimes in quite amazing ways.
  2. We are all challenged at some time during our lives.  In adversity, it’s not our commercial acumen that drives our survival it’s our friendship, our caring & our love.  It might sound “soft” but on personal reflection these factors have always been significant for me.
  3. A system of ethics drives our behaviours.  Our true fans probably recognise them already in our actions.  Perhaps we should do more to recognise them ourselves and state them explicitly. 

I think the sentiment here is best described by the angel “Clarence” at the end of the film.  He has left “George Bailey” a copy of the book Tom Sawyer and in it the message reads :

“Dear George: Remember no man is a failure who has friends. Thanks for the wings! Love Clarence.”

About David Goddin

Passionate about People, Performance & Potential. Amongst many other things David Goddin is a consultant, coach, facilitator & mentor with extensive experience of transforming business performance and organisational effectiveness as a Senior Executive in large organisations. As the founder and Managing Director of Change Continuum, David now works with companies and business professionals who want to increase performance, accelerate change & unleash potential.

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