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Earning my Wonderful Life wings

Pacific Continental Bank in my home town of Eugene has an interesting requirement for all new employees going through their orientation: they must watch It’s a Wonderful Life from start to finish.

“The message in that film is the message we want our employees to come to work with every day,” says Dean Hansen, senior vice president & relationship manager. “The idea that our actions make a difference in the community around us.”

I first watched the movie as a home-from-college kid in the mid-1970s. And over the decades I’ve come to appreciate the same thing that bank president does about the movie. It is an hour-and-a-half-long “teachable moment.”

From time to time, over those years, I jotted down some of those lessons. Before long, I realized I had a lesson a week for a year: 52 bite-sized nuggets of wisdom. Thus, the movie can be more than just holiday entertainment—though our family, like so many others, has its traditional December viewing—but can inspire us about how to live. About what really matters. About honor and integrity.

For nearly four decades, I’ve made my living writing books, magazine articles, and newspaper stories with a decided emphasis on people who inspire. George Bailey, Mary Hatch, and the rest of the Wonderful Life crew certainly qualify as examples of that. And, in essence, live on in all who take to heart the quiet but character-enriching lessons found in Bedford Falls.

To that end, I’m excited that on Sept. 12 Thomas Nelson Publishers is releasing 52 Little Lessons from It’s a Wonderful Life. Question: If only one reader’s life is bettered by the book’s inspiration, uh, might I earn my wings?

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