Skip to: Content
Skip to: Site Navigation
Skip to: Search


George Bailey vs. Steve Jobs (VIDEO)

Apple cofounder Steve Jobs urged, 'Don’t waste your time living someone else’s life.' But in 'It's a Wonderful Life,' protagonist George Bailey gave up his dreams for his own life and learned that 'no one is a failure who has friends.' How do we square these messages?

(Page 2 of 2)

Perhaps Bailey and Jobs reflect the values of their eras – the altruistic, wartime 1940s (when many put their inner voices second) versus our modern fascination with self-actualization. Or maybe they reflect the nature of their settings – ordinary, naive Bedford Falls versus successful, ambitious Silicon Valley.

Skip to next paragraph

Yet I doubt George Bailey and Steve Jobs would have been at odds – that Bailey would have thought of Jobs as he did Mr. Potter, “a scurvy little spider spinning its web,” or that Jobs would have thought Bailey a chump like Potter did (“all of the Baileys were chumps.”) Their messages are not necessarily inconsistent.

Even though George’s life was ordinary and lacking in great achievement and material riches, Clarence helped George realize how the dots of his life connected in hindsight, how the unfolding of his life had meaning and purpose and perhaps more direction from his heart and intuition than he thought.

George Bailey had, in fact, listened to his inner voice and become the person he truly wanted to be. It wasn’t the person of his boyhood dreams – the world traveler, the successful professional – but rather the person devoted to selfless service and honoring commitments to others. Following that inner voice, even in the face of his ambitions – and feelings of failure for not living up to them – had taken great courage. And in so doing, he found true satisfaction and fulfillment.

This year, as you watch George’s family and friends sing Auld Lang Syne, remember Jobs’s words. What if following your heart and intuition means that your preconceived dreams may not always come true? Just think of the courage needed then. Yes, we may see George a little differently this year – thanks to Steve Jobs.

Ann Kraemer is a lawyer, consultant, and writer.


Read Comments

View reader comments | Comment on this story