this scene from the classic Frank Capra movie and George S. Kaufman play, You
Can’t Take it With You, the munitions magnate Anthony P. Kirby, Sr. is on
the cusp of creating a monopoly with plans to make his son, Tony, the president
of the corporation. The media and power brokers of the deal are all waiting
anxiously in the upstairs boardroom for the Kirby's to make their entrance,
when Tony approaches Kirby, Sr. in his private boardroom:
“I’m quitting…I just
handed in my resignation. I’ve been thinking about it for a long time.
Sr.: “so, you’re quitting.
Well, what’re you going to do?”
“I don’t know. I..I
think I’ll go away for a while, and try to get myself organized. I..I was
going to hang on to my job until this thing with Alice got all straightened
out, but that’s all over, so there’s no use waiting around till that.
I..I don’t know. I..I thought maybe after I get back, I could start work on
that grass---you remember that thing that Bob Smith and I fooled around with in
(Kirby Sr. starts
“Well Dad, if you think
it’s funny, I’m sorry. I came in here to say goodbye.”
Sr.: “Goodbye? Are you
“Yes, I’m serious. I don’t
want any part of this, Dad. I never did.
Sr.: “You can’t do this, after
all the plans I made for you---“
“Dad, if I could just make
you understand this. I think this business is great. It’s good for you
because you like it. I don’t. I never will. Oh, I’ve tried to
talk to you so many times about it but I just couldn’t get it out! I used
to be able to talk to you, Dad. But lately…”
Although the screenplay
is a romantic comedy, it brings into sharp focus the tension of working in
environments and occupations which are clearly outside an individual’s
calling. This scene between Tony Kirby (played by the venerable Jimmy Stewart)
and his father, Anthony P. Kirby, Sr. (played by Edward Arnold) also highlights
how relationships are strained by the powerful sense of obligation to fulfill
another family member’s well-intentioned plans.
Tony is breaking
with the family business and reveals his interest in possibly pursuing his own
dream. We learn in an earlier scene that he and his friend from college
were intrigued with researching how to develop technology that replicates the
ability of plants to convert solar energy (keep in mind this play was written
in the 1930’s, before the invention of the integrated circuit).
It is easy for
young adults to identify with Tony and languish for years without career tests
and assessments to reveal clear direction and purpose. They may not have
been shown how to take stock of their personal strengths, interests and
energizing work style preferences, and may not have been advised on how
to set and work towards realistic, measurable goals. As a result, young adults
are prone to waste valuable time and resources pursuing college majors or careers
that are not a fit.
So how can a
young man or woman find direction? Is it possible to validate that he or she is
headed for the right goal? How can the young adult avoid the same
quickly-diffused triumph a disoriented athlete experiences after making a 3-point
shot or scoring a touchdown and discovering it was the wrong end of the court
If you haven’t seen it, you will have to watch
the movie to see who provided those answers to Tony. For the young adults in
your life, there’s IDMyPlan.
Tony needed a
mentor, someone who would truly listen to him, understand his interests, and
encourage him to pursue his dreams. Unfortunately, it wasn’t his father.
Sometimes it takes someone outside the immediate family, maybe even a respected
stranger, to listen and provide objective, unbiased guidance.