I could talk about Clark W. Griswold for hours. He is one of the best characters in American cinema, hands down! Clark is a man with a big heart. He loves his family. He desires to create memories that will last a lifetime. He is a dreamer and has HUGE ideas. Everything I've just said describes me to a tee and I wonder who else it relates to. But I need to pop the balloon now. In part 1 of my Don't Be Like Series, we examined Owl from Winnie the Pooh. Owl is a highly intelligent creature with a desire to own the room. He wants everyone to hear how smart he is. Owl does not know how to read the room. He will tell you all about him on the side of the river as Pooh and Piglet are heading toward the waterfall cliff. Don't be like Owl. Clark W. Griswold has a glaring blind spot too.
Ellen says this early in Christmas Vacation. "I think you're forgetting how difficult it's gonna be having everyone in the house at the same time." Clark responds "They're family. Christmas is about resolving differences and seeing through the petty problems of family life.... All my life, I've wanted to have a big family Christmas (he grew up an only child)." Ellen responds. "It's just that I know how you build things up in your mind Sparky. You set standards that no family event could ever live up to." Clark... "When have I ever done that?" Ellen goes on to name every event over the past few years. This is the perfect lead in to this episode. Clark only sees the best case and everyone else sees the reality. In the first movie, Clark had a big dream to take his family cross country to see all of the sights and go to Wally World. He was overly optimistic and had no idea of the potential downside and issues that would happen. His wife knew the potential and reality but was afraid to talk to Clark about it. She just went along. As every disaster happened, she was prepared to deal as she always did. Every time something got in the way of Clark's perfect vision, Clark would simmer and his internal pressure cooker would rise. Ellen would go with the flow as she knew the reality of what Clark was doing and expected something like this could happen. Again, Clark internalizes everything. He was in shock and felt like it was all going wrong. We laugh at his responses because it's a movie and Chevy Chase is a comedian. They never talked reality and Clark kept pushing toward a pie in the sky optimistic idea that would never really happen. It comes to a head when they arrive and the park is closed. Do you remember the Wally World scene where Clark blows a gasket, punches the moose nose, and proceeds to hold the security guard (and legendary comedian John Candy) prisoner with an air rifle. They ride on every ride and eventually get arrested. The owner of Wally World relents because he feels bad for Clark and the family. Christmas Vacation ends in similar fashion. Clark blows a gasket when he doesn't get his big Christmas bonus. He planned everything in advance. The family swimming pool. Crazy Eddie kidnaps Clark's boss and again Clark gets off. Ellen has a way of smoothing over the situation every time. Clark never learns though. It makes his character one of my favorites. I truly relate to him. Real life is the craziness, not the optimistic, never-go-wrong illusionary world of Clark W. Griswold.
Do you act like Owl or Clark? Are you blinded by the needs of others because you can't see past yourself. Are you blinded by the reality of life because you only see through rose-colored glasses? Neither are good and both will wreak havoc in your life. I propose that you check yourself if you relate to either of these characters. For me, I relate to Clark so much and my wife is exactly like Ellen. I'm so blessed to have her to pull me back to earth when I start floating away in the clouds. My friend Vincent Pugliese of Total Life Freedom does the same for me. He grounds me. Do you have someone helping you balance between optimistic and realistic?
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The Smart Cleaning School Podcast helps cleaning business owners from start-up to the struggling solo to the striving seven-figure get SMARTER in their businesses, reshape their mindset, increase productivity, clear the overwhelm, and get clarity through SMART goal-setting & personal accountability. Ken Carfagno is a lifetime learner and teacher. His mission is to help visionaries make the impact they were meant to make.