The Greatest Gift

Shelley SmithBlog, Executive Coaching, Leadership Development, Predictive Index



Perhaps the most treasured movie of the Christmas season is the sentimental favorite, IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE. It was based on a short story given in a Christmas card by Phillip Van Doren Stern entitled, THE GREATEST GIFT. Academy Award-winning director Frank Capra immediately saw its value and potential when he bought the rights to it. It took several drafts and various attempts but finally he had a draft that he liked so he could start shooting in 1946. He saw a treasure when others did not since it did have several starts. The movie studio RKO bought the rights and had several starts in the development process, even aiming to have Cary Grant starring in it. Like many films, the rights were sold, this time to Frank Capra. Perhaps THE GREATEST GIFT short story was indeed the greatest gift to us all for guaranteed Christmas movie viewing satisfaction each year.  Surprisingly it was not received very well when it was first released. But over time people began to see the value of the movie.


Isn’t that way with our everyday lives. We work with some amazing people but at times don’t appreciate the gifts that they have. Perhaps they need encouragement to “unwrap” them or valued in development. Does it take a special person, like Frank Capra to realize what various employees can offer and how to bring them out? Not really.

The advantage of watching IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE is that we know what our expectations will be. We’ve come to enjoy the message of a life worth living, is a life worthy of giving to the ending of the movie impact that “no person who has friends can be considered a failure.”

Now I’m not saying that ALL employees will be friends and everyone will be selfless at work. But if we have expectations of individual and team greatness, a great work culture should follow. Maybe the gift that everyone has in the workplace is to unwrap the gifts of what each of us has to offer a great workplace and a more wonderful life.


My name is Shelley Smith, your culture curator. A company’s culture can make or break the long-term success and overall profitability. Your employees must be aligned with your mission, vision, and values. Their behavioral needs must be congruent with the needs of your culture and motivated to those needs daily. If you would like to know more about this process of inquiry please contact me directly at or visit me on my websites to learn more and