Today’s post is the featured article from the November 2012 issue of The Front Porch Newsletter. If you would like to automatically receive The Front Porch e-newsletter on the last Thursday of each month just click here to sign-up for your complimentary subscription.
There are a few creative works in our life that become a genuine classic. As we embark on another Holiday Season it is easy to be reminded of one of the great movie classics … It’s A Wonderful Life! It’s interesting how some great works become true classics and others still easily fade away. Classics stand the test of time and somehow continue to connect from generation to generation.
I don’t know if there is a scientific pattern that could reveal the DNA of a classic. I suppose not … otherwise, that formula would have been mined long ago to rapidly generate classic after classic. Something, however, tells me there might be one common element that could be found in a number of classics. It’s their ability to stir the inner deepness in our heart, mind and soul. They reveal something we don’t readily see, yet once seen we intuitively know it to be true. Simply put, classics let us in.
It’s a Wonderful Life is one of them.
While each Holiday Season brings to mind this classic, it was uniquely brought to mind this year when my good friend and author, Greg Asimakoupoulos, published his newest book Finding God in It’s a Wonderful Life. Greg’s reflections bring this film classic to life in a whole new way. As a long-time friend with Karolyn Grimes, the childhood actress who played Zuzu, Greg has had a unique connection to this story. Just like the classic, Greg invites you in to take another look.
In many ways, that is exactly what this film classic begs us to do. Take another look! That, in itself, is enough. Yet, it also stirs within me an important question for leaders:
What makes life wonderful?
It is a powerful question. It can be a divisive one as well. For it can divide happiness from joy … being served from serving … and self-interest from the interest in others. It has a way of revealing a unsettling paradox … in revealing what we think will be wonderful, as we look forward, rarely proves to be what was actually wonderful as we eventually look back.
What if we could know looking forward … what we would eventually understand looking back? It would almost be like being able to look forward through some sort of night-vision goggles of wonder. I think I am starting to see a way. I talk about it all the time. I have just never precisely realized its potential to reveal “wonder” by answering the question … what makes life wonderful?
The answer rests inside your core.
In putting forth the effort to understand our core values, both organizationally and individually … we begin to reveal what is wonderful. It unleashes an authentic potential to open our eyes. And just like the elements of a “classic” work, we reveal something we don’t readily see looking forward … inviting us, in the present, to know what will be true looking back.
Our core has the power to diffuse the weight of tough circumstances or the deceit of temporary success. It helps any leader find the possibilities of wonder in both. In the midst of our core, we find that each and every one of us is in the midst of a wonderful life … if we choose to see it! Knowing our core values helps us see this wonder. Finding wonder in all things is the call of any and every leader.
While it is a responsibility … it is far more an opportunity.
Followers placed in leadership roles tend to wander rather than find wonder. I’m convinced it’s because they haven’t done the hard work of discovering what is at their own personal core and fully embracing the connection to a genuine set of organizational core values. Is it, therefore, any wonder they struggle in their ability to effectively lead? They certainly struggle in their ability to truly connect with those they lead. I am convinced leaders enhance their leadership by developing their wondership!
In the midst of this Holiday Season, I hope you will look around and see wonder in all things. It is definitely there … and if you let it, the wonder will, in-turn, let you in. In doing so, you will be more prepared to live the wonderful life that awaits you in the New Year. As a leader, you may not become a classic, but you are much more likely to live a legacy!