December 19

It’s NOT a Wonderful Life | WT #32


How many times have you seen the Christmas classic, It’s a Wonderful Life with Jimmy Stewart playing the main character, George Bailey?

Why does this movie endure?

I believe that the film’s story serves as a wake-up call to excellence that impacts the audience on a deep level. A result of achieving excellence (which our character George does, although he doesn’t know it at first) is being happy today, at this moment and every moment thereafter.

You’ve likely heard about excellence your whole life, but have you defined it for yourself, and executed on it? Or, have you constantly chased an idea of excellence…that remains undefined?

As of this post, Christmas Day is is less than a week away (it will also be our last post until January). I may yet catch it again this year. But if you have the opportunity to catch it (they abound!), I hope you will ponder how to define excellence for yourself and execute on it:

  1. Capture who you are on paper and relentlessly close the gap between your perceived self and your real self. Ask for feedback from those who care and are truth-tellers. Create a strategic plan for your life like you do your business. Measure performance in all pillars of your life like you do your business life (performance as a spouse, parent, friend, community member, and spirituality).
  2. Keep your eyes-up at all times.
  3. Pause before speaking.
  4. Be joyful. Joy comes from using your time, talent, and resources for others, not for yourself.
  5. Love. You love by drawing-out the talents in others and giving them the space to be excellent.
  6. Understand. Start a new habit – collect questions and ask great questions.
  7. Be magnanimous. Have urgency, be introspective, and achieve great things daily because you should in ALL pillars of your life or you can’t achieve excellence.

Here at the Authentic Leadership Foundation, we have the tools to help you get started. But you can still use the movie as a mental model. By the way, of course George does lead a wonderful life; however I would rename it: It’s an Excellent Life!

About the author 

Darren Smith

Darren Smith is Co-Founder of the Authentic Leadership Institute. He is a native Texan and a graduate of Dallas Jesuit and Texas A&M University. Over the past 25 years, Darren has visited 35 countries and led 100 strategy programs. He and his wife have five children.


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