5 Ways to Avoid Being THAT George Bailey

It’s a wonderful life.

At least, that’s the title of the 1946 Frank Capra film that has become a modern holiday classic. We tune in every year for a heartwarming message encouraging generosity and personal sacrifice.

In this post, we will discuss the advantages of being like Jimmy Stewart’s legendary character, George Bailey before we detail 5 ways to avoid being the George Bailey who became so despondent that he wanted to die by suicide.

Those that follow me know I write about pivoting to your next great opportunity. In the process, I encourage you to think bigger and reach higher to realize your breakthrough success. I work with aspiring and emerging leaders to make one pivot and then create the pivotal strategic habit in a rapidly and radically changing world. As leaders, executives, entrepreneurs, or employees, as we improve our ability to make S.M.A.R.T. decisions and avoid S.T.U.P.I.D. mistakes, we will seize great opportunities sooner.

NOTE: Those that follow me also know that I believe compassionate collaboration is the best business practice. While I firmly believe in being a giver and avoiding takers, those of us seeking to become innovative leaders pivoting to our breakthrough must develop an honest vision of the world. We cannot be naive in a rough and tumble world. We must be realists who honestly assess situations for the opportunities and threats, that they offer. Forest Gump might have been right in that life is a box of chocolates where we aren’t sure what we will find. However, that doesn’t mean we aren’t aware that some people break the bottoms of the chocolates, take the good ones, and leave the bad ones for us. My message for today: be wise. See the realities of the situation so you can pivot to your breakthrough success.

The Plot

“It’s a Wonderful Life” is an endearing movie because it reinforces great values. For those seeking to pivot to their breakthrough in 2022, here are several traits where you can emulate Geroge. Be the Geroge Bailey who:

  • has a heart for people,
  • does the right thing,
  • generously offers his help,
  • enjoys life,
  • dreams big,
  • recongizes the competition,
  • doesn’t back down from a challenge,
  • makes plans,
  • works hard, and
  • guards his reputation

I have detailed how you can be THAT George Bailey in my posts and books available on MurfieldCoaching.com.

There is a lot to love about George Bailey. Model those characteristics. Be that George Bailey.

However, his life came to a near-fatal end because he made some naive mistakes that ruin many people in similar situations.

Don’t be THAT George Bailey.

#1. Don’t lose hope.

First and foremost, don’t lose hope. (We discussed helping your team find hope in a previous post.)

Geroge is driven to the point of thinking that the world would’ve been better off had he never been born. That is the image of hopelessness. Of course, that is not true for George Bailey or for you or me. Those of us seeking to do something big often feel dejected and somewhat embarrassed when our big plans fail. However, we know that is not the end of the story.

Imagine if “It’s a Wonderful Life” ended with George jumping off the bridge and Potter taking over the Savings and Loan. Who would want to watch that movie? You guessed it, no one!

Instead, look at those audacious leaders who suffered defeats yet keep working to find their success. Walt Disney went through bankruptcy on his way to building an empire. Steve Jobs was fired by the company that he founded. Michael Jordan was cut from the high school basketball team. They didn’t give up hope but kept working and enjoy phenomenal success. You can do the same.

Do you think any of them felt hopeless for a moment? Of course, they did. However, they got back up.

Wishing you had never been born is not an option. Neither is jumping off a real or figurative bridge. The situation is NEVER as hopeless as it seems in those dark moments. You have resources that will make THEE critical difference. Life will improve.

When feeling down, say it out loud. “This will pass. Things will get better. I will feel better tomorrow.”

That’s the key. Lift your chin, look to the horizon, and keep going. Never lose hope. Something great is about to happen.

NOTE: Please find a qualified professional therapist. Dial 211 for immediate support.

Maintain your hope. Pivot from the negative feelings by looking to the future while knowing that better days are coming. Don’t be like THAT despondent George Bailey.

#2. Don’t trust the livelihood of your success to someone you want to help.

George trusted Uncle Billy to take the deposit to the bank. As any movie-goer could predict, Billy dropped the critical deposit and the evil Henry Potter threatened to use it as his trump card to put the pesky Savings and Loan away for good.

George didn’t need to put himself in that situation. It’s one thing to help others develop their talents by giving them additional responsibility. However, decide quickly which tasks, if not performed well, can ruin your success. Those seeking to pivot to a breakthrough must be hands-on, insisting on accountability, in critical matters.

It is a harsh truth, but most people are self-centered. They are most concerned about what matters most to them. They put their interests ahead of ours. For them to fail, forget, or flub might simply be a mistake for them but a disaster for us.

We can’t afford to take that risk. Prioritize the tasks. Do what’s most important yourself.

Also, NEVER delegate to a person who has a track record for failure. Uncle Billy was loveable but should never have been charged with handling money. Too often we have friends we like or family we want to help that want to be involved. Use caution. Your breakthrough success is equivalent to a large stack of cash. Are you willing to trust them with your future?

Pivot from the idea that you can trust those that haven’t proved they are worthy of the task.

Geroge Bailey trusted Uncle Billy. Don’t be that George Bailey.

#3. Don’t stay silent. Ask for help!

George held himself personally responsible. That is a great quality and an important characteristic for pivotal success.

But like many strong leaders, he had a fatal flaw. When facing trouble, he refused to ask for help.

Notice his wife was the one who called others to help when she learned of the situation. George was too proud or held himself too responsible to ask for help. That meant he blamed himself when things went sour.

Staying silent, keeping your problems to yourself, and failing to ask for help is usually grounded in a sense of shame and worries about your demise. Too often thoughts of self-destruction prevail. I believe lost hope, career and personal frustrations lead many to commit suicide a little bit each day. They gradually give up, blame themselves, feel shame, and see no future.

This is what I call the “pride disease.” We worry about tarnishing our image so we don’t ask for help when we need it the most. We suffer in silence and deteriorate a little bit each successive day.

In building our breakthrough success, pivot from your frustrations by asking for help. Don’t be THAT George Bailey who kept his fears to himself. Build a team you can trust that includes wise mentors with whom you can share your darkest fears, frustrations, and failures.

#4. Don’t forget your team.

George had opportunities. His brother offered a great opportunity. Even though he didn’t take it, he should have shared with him about what he was doing and how his brother could help out. As we learn later, his brother was willing to help when he was asked.

In building our pivot, we all need a team. We can’t do it on our own. As you set your mind to pivot in 2022, hone that outside perspective to solve the problem in front of you. Use those resources to gain leverage. Lean on that perspective to do what you haven’t thought possible by yourself.

Don’t be like George Bailey. Build your team by engaging those who want to help from a distance.

#5. Don’t assume a happy ending.

The movie is heartwarming because of the final scene where countless people arrive at George’s house with cash in hand to save the day. Even his world-traveling brother arrives with a contribution big enough to eliminate George’s problems.

This is a wonderful ending but can you count on those who have previously been silent? Can you trust everything to magically work out? When your back is up against the wall and you are feeling despondent, do you believe that countless people will suddenly come to your aid?

While I don’t want to harsh your buzz over this holiday season or this classic movie, I challenge you with a dose of reality.

  • Too many good, honest, sacrificial people die because they believed in the idyllic story that others would come to their assistance.
  • Too many believed in a Hollywood fabrication that life magically works out.
  • Too many want to believe that corporate has your best career interests at heart.
  • Too many believe others will rush to their aid.
  • Too many believe that others have the same virtues as George Bailey.

Stop being THAT naive George Bailey.

We love the movie because George did what was right for his family and community. He had big dreams, high hopes, and impressive plans. But it was only a movie.

Don’t assume that idealism is reality. Assuming the best is a nice idea but a terrible business or life approach because it is not grounded in reality. Yes, we hope and work for the best but plan for the worst. We work hard on our backup plans B, C, and D. Idealism blinds us to the realities that we need to work through, and by clinging to it, it blinds us to what we need to do to succeed.

As you can imagine, once an idealist wakes up to the harsh realities, often they become cynics, only seeing the negative. Don’t be the cynic. Pivot to find a balance by seeing the opportunities and then working to succeed as if every obstacle will be thrown in your way. That gives you a plan of action that will help you achieve your dreams.

Don’t allow your idealism to become cynicism. Don’t allow your dreams to die. Don’t be like THAT George who gives up your dreams of grandeur to sacrifice for someone else’s dream. Don’t live your life for someone else’s dream.

Others see their careers die when they believed peers would support them. Instead, in time of trouble, they looked around and found no one. No wonder their careers looked ended abruptly. Make sure those around you are committed to the cause and willing to stand by you in difficult circumstances.

Still others believed the appeals of the corporate or not-for-profit leaders who assured them that, if they just sacrificed and helped out, everything would turn out right.

Don’t be THAT George Bailey. Be cautious of those demanding your sacrifice. Often they want you to sacrifice for their gain.

Contact me for your FREE 20-minute Coaching Call.




I am Dr. Loren Murfield, and I develop aspiring and emerging leaders pivot to their breakthrough success.   Contact me today to begin your pivot.

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