It says something about our national character that one of our most beloved Christmas movie is about a man’s near-suicide after being swindled by unaccountable forces. I don’t know what it says, but it certainly says something.
And yet It’s A Wonderful Life endures partly because it grapples with a central question: what would the world be like without us*?
For nonprofits, you could do worse than defining brand this way. What is the thing you are doing that is valuable that only you could do? I once worked with a nonprofit who surveyed their own donors on what they did; they were their own donors’ fourth pick for that particular service. Out of four. They weren’t doing the wrong thing; they were doing great and noble work. They had not found or communicated their niche. And like George Bailey, sometimes it takes looking at the world without you in it to see what unique service you provide to all.
Now, for you. This isn’t a pep talk on personal branding. Rather, it’s a holiday reminder that the world is better with you in it. Your unique and divine spark means that no one brings the same thing to this world as you. And just as there are those you love and those you miss in these odd holidays, there are those that love and miss you.
My hope for you these holidays was summed up better by author Shauna Niequist than I have words for:
“My prayer is that what you’ve lost, and what I’ve lost this year, will fade a little bit in the beauty of the Christmas season, that for a few moments at least, what is right and good and worth believing will outshine all the darkness, within us and around us.”
With my hopes for what’s right and good and worth believing, season’s greetings. It truly is a wonderful life.
* and partly because for a time the rights lapsed so stations could show it free of charge (and did, over and over).