Through trials and tribulations, George Bailey gives a "wonderful" course in business etiquette training.
“To my big brother George, the richest man in town!”
When this cheer goes up at the end of Frank Capra’s classic, “It’s a Wonderful Life”, we know why George Bailey is considered rich- he’s rich in friendship, rich in love from his family, and rich in respect and admiration from the entire small town of Bedford Falls, NY. (Except, perhaps, from the evil Mr. Potter…) As the story unfolds, we find that one of the many reasons everyone loves George Bailey is his strong sense of ethics and the respect with which he handles not only his personal relationships, but the many varied and vital business relationships that flow in and out of the Bailey Building and Loan. As portrayed by Jimmy Stewart (who, as an actor, earned the nickname “The Ordinary Hero”), George Bailey is someone we all want to know, we all want to cheer for, and we all want to emulate. He’s an expert in relationship building.
During this holiday season, here are some things we can learn from George Bailey:
1) He handles the hard stuff with compassion and honesty, even if it gets his ears boxed: Over the course of the film, we see George grow from a young boy to the man who takes over the family business. As a child, George works for the local druggist, Mr. Gower. When George discovers that Gower has accidentally mixed a prescription with poison, thanks to drunkenness and grief over his son’s death, George gathers the courage to let old man know. He lays out the facts: “I saw what you did. You put poison in those pills!”, and compassionately tells him that he knows he is upset, but he couldn’t possibly deliver the poisonous prescription. Although George initially incurs his wrath, when Gower sees his mistake, he is forever indebted to George. And because George confronted a difficult situation with honesty and compassion, he probably saved more than one life.
2) He goes out of his way to make everyone feel important: Whether it’s helping Uncle Billy remember what the strings tied around his fingers mean, or bringing gifts of fresh bread and wine to the new homeowners helped by the Building and Loan, his direct and caring communication makes everyone feel important. In one of the film’s most popular moments, George and his wife, Mary, keep the doors of the Building and Loan open by lending their wedding money to the frightened customers during a bank run. When things are at their worst, George calms the crowd by addressing them warmly and by name, reminding them that they are all in it together: “Why, you’re money’s in Joe’s house… and the Kennedy house and Mrs. Macklin’s house. And a hundred others!” It’s his personal care that helps to build strong relationships, and that causes everyone to jump to action in George’s hour of need.
3) His positivity wins in the end: Our hero goes through many trials over the course of the film; however when he has the titular revelation that he, in fact, has a wonderful life, all of his positivity returns. The scene where George runs through the streets of town offering thanks and well-wishes to everyone (and everything!) he encounters has become a holiday staple. Imagine how different our business interactions would be if we could approach everyone in such a positive manner, with no shortage of gratitude. In that way, we could truly say we have a wonderful business life.
With the New Year approaching, we’d like to let you know how grateful we are for all of you. Thank you for making 2012 such a wonderful year. Happy holidays to all, and we look forward to a fantastic 2013!
With our Best Regards-