Groundhog Day, The Twilight Zone, and Getting it Right!

by John Zajaros on May 10, 2010

The Groundhog Day Lesson: A Lesson for Business Success…Life Success!

I love the movie Groundhog Day with Bill Murray! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched it over the years. Bill Murray is something of an enigma, sometimes absolutely brilliant and other times he is just plain awful…or the parts he plays are anyway. Perhaps he tries to stretch himself, do the unconventional, accept the risky, non traditional roles in order to pursue his craft, his art. For whatever reason, he can absolutely leave me in stitches or make me want to bolt for the door.

However, because he has the ability to captivate and entertain, I take a chance with his movies time and again. Groundhog Day and What About Bob? are two of his bests!

Another Murray role, The Razor’s Edge, is a bit gritty but tells a tale, a 1984 Hollywood remake of a 1946 Tyrone Power film of the 1944 bestseller by W. Somerset Maugham, of a disenchanted and disillusioned WWI veteran seeking to find himself in India after The Great War. Murray pulls off the part of Larry Darrell in a way that touches the heart and reminds us that Vietnam veterans were not the only ones affected by what is now called PTSD, that there was in fact an entire generation that was lost: The Lost Generation.

Indeed, nothing is new!

What does any of this have to do with the title of this article? What does Bill Murray’s selection of movie roles, and in particular his performance in the movie Groundhog Day, have to do with marketing and brick and mortar business success?

It’s really pretty obvious if you stop and think about it; and, if you have seen the movie. The movie is about living the same day over and over again until you get it right. But more than that, it’s about mindset and the realization that each day can be a learning experience, one that will ultimately get you to your goal…regardless of how elusive that goal may initially seem to be.

The magic of the story is in the progression of Bill Murray‘s character, Phil Connors, a Pittsburg weatherman trapped day after day in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. At first, Connors (Murray) does the same thing over and over again, doomed to repeat the same mundane exercises day in and day out, always on Groundhog Day.

Phil, yes, the same name as the Groundhog, eventually tires of the experience and attempts to put an end to the torture by, among other things, driving off a cliff, along with Punxsutawney Phil himself (the groundhog) seated at the steering wheel with him. And yes, only to awaken again the next morning to the same some on the clock radio, the same music blaring I Got You Babe by Sonny and Cher, and the same cornball radio announcer reading the same corny script!

Same radio announcer, same morning routine, same Phil. Day in, day out, misery every step of the way!

After days of repetition, boredom, and failing in every attempt to end it all, realizing that he was never going to escape, a light bulb goes off and Phil Connors hatches a plan.

In Hollywood it’s always about “getting the girl!” However, in real life the goal can be anything; and yet, somewhat ironically, it’s usually about “getting the girl.” For guys anyway…and some girls, I suppose!

So, falling for his producer, the beautiful Rita played by the stunning Andie MacDowell, Murray has incentive to change, to rethink his life and, in setting his sights on Rita, Connors has a goal, a reason to live…and to learn! This is a vital component in the story line and this is Hollywood, so everything revolves around this infatuation, an infatuation that ultimately leads to much more. But you have to see the movie for that!

Anyway, Connors sees an opening and begins to treat every new day as a learning experience, a learning experience that will ultimately lead to a relationship with the object of his desire, Rita!

Instead of simply going through each and every day as he had the one before, dreading the routine he had been sentenced to, Murray’s character begins to study, learn, and finally…grow!

OK! I have said enough about Groundhog Day. But I hope you can see where I am going with this?

As business owners this lesson is particularly applicable. For that matter, the lesson applies to anyone who wakes up day after day to the same old, same old. You see, we go through the same routine, we apply the same strategies, and we hope for the same outcome, day in and day out.

Every day the alarm clock goes off at the same time, we get up to the same radio station, we drink the same coffee, we run the same distance or do the same workout (maybe!), drive the same car, open the same door to the same business at the same time, and we apply the same strategies to our running of the business in the same way with the same effect…day in and day out!

…because it is what we know…because it is safe!

Not only is this tragic, it is a waste of life! In fact, it’s a death sentence. Personally, spiritually, financially, and emotionally…you are walking around day after day and it is always…your very own GROUNDHOG’S DAY!

It doesn’t have to be that way!

In the movie, Phil Connors discovers, after being repeatedly brutalized by the mundane, stagnant life he has come to accept as his ultimate reality, that each day is another opportunity to do it better, to get it right, and to grow in the process.

Triumph!

Phil Connors begins to live each day, building upon the one before, a progression towards a goal. Yes, Rita in the movie…but we all have our own “Rita,” don’t we?

How sad and unfortunate it is that most of us get up in the morning, go through our morning rituals, get to work, go through another set of rituals, and before we know it is time to go home, another ritual. We get home, go through another set of routines, part of which is usually telling whoever asks that nothing much happened, just another day at the office, and then we retire, another ritual….only to do it all again…tomorrow…Groundhog Day!

Over and over again! Nothing new, nothing learned, just repetition and a sick feeling that our lives are not our own, that they are certainly not what we had envisioned so very long ago.

We do the same things hoping that it will be enough and by the time the light bulb does go off…it is often too late! No time for a do-over, no time for anything new because we didn’t snap out of it in time.

Twilight Zone?

“Picture this, a life, a business, a person going nowhere. See the man on an endless treadmill, one he does not see, cannot see, will not see…until it is too late.

“And then?

“Well, then it is over…until tomorrow…when he will once again mount the treadmill and once again……Groundhog Day……”

It is NOT too late! There is indeed time!

We all get do-overs throughout our lives…we just have to be smart enough to recognize them as opportunities for growth, opportunities to learn, to something greater than our present selves!

Life is not a death sentence, the same old, same old!

Groundhog Day can mean the beginning of a new day, a day to learn, to grow, to become something more!

It is up to you!

JZ

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