There are some films that have meaning and are timeless. "It's a Wonderful Life" is such a film. But it teaches us so much about our business and our personal life. It could, in fact, make you much richer.
I know what you are thinking. How can a film made in 1946 be relevant to your personal or business life? This is, after all, the age of Facebook, Apps, Uber, Google and YouTube. Well, believe it or not, it actually has be ability to show you the riches you desire.
But here's the thing. George Bailey in 1946 is just like you and me in 2016.
Just before Christmas last year my family and I were in Southbank, Brisbane. Along with the fireworks, swimming and lots of fun there was an outside cinema showing "It's a Wonderful Life. There was just one difference. Instead of being in black and white some cleaver dude, who probably looked like a geek with spectacular spectacles, had converted it into colour.Â
My 9 year old recognised it immediately having watch or heard it every Xmas for the last 9 years. To my wife watching anything in black and white is like asking her to mow the lawn. The thought enters her mind for one millionth of a second and then there is no chance.
Anyway, I have pleaded for 18 years for her to watch the film. My son asks her once and all of a sudden she was all in. She had to wait until Boxing Day to watch it as on Christmas Day we had a competition on who could empty bottles of wine the quickest. By the time we finished this game we were on the floor drooling like vegetables and had no idea how to use the TV remote.
Anyway, George Bailey, the lead character in the film has become as much a part of Christmas as carols, snow, mistletoe, Big Mr C, cold turkey, hot turkey, bad presents and lots of alcohol. I know no one who has not seen the film. Except my wife. Obviously.
We watch his life from school to adulthood. He wants to travel the world and create things, but his life takes on a different tangent from everything to the death of his father, the dreams of his brother and the good folks around him. It gets worse. He's seems to hate his business. Itâ€™s a good thing Facebook and Twitter were not around in 1946 because he would also be told by his friends (falsely) what a wonderful life they are having and living out the adventures he desires for himself.
Sound familiar? He knows his business helps people. He knows he is a decent good man, that he has a lovely wife, fantastic children and lives in a community of well-meaning friends and family. But that's not enough for him. That sound like you too? Does that sound like someone you know?
Reality is we are all like George Bailey. Sometimes our dreams are destined to be unrealised. We are stressed by daily life. We don't fully appreciate what we have, or by what we've managed to accomplish despite our obstacles. We are too often focused on the wrong things. And we also know around the corner there is a chance there could be a massive, catastrophic meltdown of financial calamity resulting in the loss of our homes and all the toys we own.
For those like my wife, a bit about the film. Before his angel came on the scene, George is unhappy with his small-town life. Then there's the tricky issue of a missing $8,000 from his business, the threat of bankruptcy and public disgrace. He decides it's better he no longer lives. He is then visited by a guardian angel to show him that his life has so much meaning. And that is when George Bailey realised what he actually wants, he already has.
So what does the film tell us and what messages should you take away from it?
Go to the Dance - It's Worth the Risk
George's brother, Harry, invites his older brother to his high school dance, but initially George refuses only to change his mind. At the dance he meets Mary, the woman he marries. The woman whose idea it is to use their honeymoon cash to save his business. And she then rallies the community after his meltdown. So, given the chance, take a risk. Go to the dance.
It's All About Mindset
Even in 1946 they knew it was all about mindset. And that was before anyone had heard of Tony Robbins. It's all about perspective. What is different about George Bailey's life after he's shown by his guardian angel what life would have been like without him?
Actually, nothing really. His business has still lost $8,000, he is still facing bankruptcy and about to be arrested. And the local rag wants his bad man picture on the front page of the newspaper too.
So, why after his angel takes him on his journey, is George a changed man? A much happier man? Because the angel has taught him that what's important is the people around us. And it is the same people that rally around and save him. It's not about the travel, it's not about money and it's not about the toys we want. It's something much closer to home. It also explains why some very rich people are unhappy. They have the toys, the travel and anything they want. But without the right people around them, they are as miserable as Tinman without a heart "Wizard of Oz"
It Only Takes One Thing to Flip Over to the "Dark Side"
Although it was brewing in the background, Anakin Skywalker converted to Darth Vader and moved to the Dark Side in an instant in Star Wars.
It was the same with George Bailey. When times are hard, everything is wrong. His children become annoying. He was rude to his child's teacher. His loving home that he rebuilt with his wife has all of a sudden become frosty cold and, finally, reconsider the scene when the knob on the stairs comes off. When on the "Dark Side", George was prepared to demolish the stairs, but when happy he loved that his home was not perfect. Nothing changed except his mindset, but in the end this horrible version of George changed nothing. He still had money problems and possible criminal conviction did not go away either.
Don't despair when times get tough. Desperate times, often lead to amazing solutions because we are forced to face them. And don't be afraid to ask for help. You work out quickly who your real friends are.
You Will be Bribed and Asked to Put Your Values Aside
In the firm the hideous Mr Potter tries to bribe George Bailey in giving up his business in exchange for employment with an astronomical pay check. He almost takes it, but realizes that if he did so it would let people down, but more importantly he would be betraying his values.
In life we are always asked to compromise our values. Stick by your values and the world will always respect you and when the time comes when you need help they will come crashing through your door with a smile. If it can happen to George Bailey it can happen to you and me.
The film might have been made in 1946, but it as relevant today as it ever was. Look around you because the chances are what you want, you probably already have but just don't realise it.