A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood…Won’t You Be My Leader?

The movie “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” is positively impacting moviegoers everywhere. It’s as much an entertaining movie as an educational experience filled with incredible teaching moments.

Acceptance. Understanding. A belief and behavior system where kindness triumphs. A basis for empathy and decency learned from America’s most beloved neighbor…Fred Rogers (as played by Tom Hanks).

Fred Rogers was the creator, showrunner, and host of the preschool television series Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood which ran from 1968 to 2001. The show was critically acclaimed for focusing on children’s emotional and physical concerns such as death and divorce or sibling rivalry and school enrollment.

The lessons learned in the movie and from Mr. Rogers over the years are timeless. Learn to release anger constructively. Interact with others from the heart, your heart…filled with compassion and forgiveness. Be a guardian angel with a calming presence. The lessons extend beyond the neighborhood. They apply at home, at work, and generally, for life and living. They apply to leadership.

The following list represents 10 powerful leadership lessons we can derive from the movie and Mr. Rogers’ life. He lived by his values and demonstrated his best in everything he did. Read the list slowly, thoughtfully. With each one, ask yourself, “How do I do that?” or “How well do I do that?” or “How could I do that better?”

Ten Powerful Leadership Lessons

  1. Be accessible to and have a genuine interest in others for greater connection.
  2. Be an adept listener and an honest, respectful communicator.
  3. Choose your words carefully and monitor your tone of voice.
  4. Intentionally impact others by valuing them.
  5. Share your gift of knowledge and capability to elevate those around you.
  6. Demonstrate courage and uphold that which you value most.
  7. Make sense of the world by addressing problems, answering questions, and speaking the truth.
  8. Feel passion for what you do and all that you believe in.
  9. Have clarity of your mission; and live by it.
  10. Always leave something of value from which others can grow.

Now, do two things:

  1. Pick one item from the list that you do well and make a commitment to share your gift with others by teaching, modeling, explaining, or simply, fully and consistently exhibiting your gift.
  2. Pick one item from the list that you could do better and make a commitment to improve.

However, there’s a key to both action steps. You must pinpoint the behaviors that work or don’t work for you. It’s not enough to just say “I do this well”. You must understand exactly what behaviors are associated with your talents and what you do well or what behaviors are associated with areas for improvement and what you could do better. Doing this enables you to reinforce the good behavior or change less productive behaviors for yourself. It also enables you to help others in the same way.

Remember, the lessons are not for us to keep for ourselves. Lessons are for us to learn; and then share with another, IF and WHEN one is open to receiving the lesson. Give the gift of learning. Enable others to observe what you do. Demonstrate what you love most and what you do best. It will:

  1. Empower others to do the same.
  2. Help others modify the way they do something.
  3. Give others permission to embrace their own strengths.

Won’t You Be My Leader?

As a leader, you can influence the workplace to make every day “a most beautiful day at work”. You may not achieve the universal acclaim of Mr. Rogers, but you can at least be your team’s most beloved leader. Or maybe even the organization’s most beloved leader. Or maybe, even America’s Most Beloved Leader.

Leaders leave an impact on every person they encounter. Make certain your impact is what you want it to be. You may be surprised how far-reaching your own impact will go. It’s great confirmation when someone asks, “Won’t you be my leader?”

The 2019 movie, inspired by the 1998 article “Can You Say…Hero?” by Tom Junod and published by Esquire, is directed by Marielle Heller and written by Micah Fitzerman-Blue and Noah Harpster. It’s a worthwhile investment of your time for both the entertainment value and the unexpected educational benefit you can derive from it. Take your friends, take your family. Take your team. It might be the best and most unique team building exercise you’ve ever done as a leader.

Schedule the Possibilities!

“After all is said and done, more is said than done” – Author Unknown

Wouldn’t it be better to say “After all is said and done, what is said IS done“?

Many of us live in the realm of possibilities. We find ourselves saying things like… “if only it were possible.” Here’s what you might hear yourself saying:

If only it were possible…to make a million dollars, to spend more time with family, to be a better leader,
to find true happiness, to take the day off tomorrow, to _(fill in the blank)_.

Is there something you wish you had in your life or career? Is there something you’d like to do? Is there something you’d like to change? It might be simple. It might be small. Or it might seem too difficult or too big to tackle. Whatever it is, identify it in your mind right now; and focus on it as you continue reading.

Years ago, I found myself saying once again, “if only it were possible…to have the best summer ever.”

I love the anticipation of summer. It’s filled with the promise of activities, outings, and new adventure. Yet, year after year, summer would come and summer would go, and so would the promise of activity. I would always say, “This year is going to be different”. Wishful thinking. Here today. Gone tomorrow. Summer would start. Summer would end. I would have done little.

Typically, we rented a cottage at the same lake during the same week, year after year. And that was it. But here’s the list of what we did the summer my daughter turned eight.

  1. Traverse City
  2. Balloon Festival
  3. The Lake
  4. The Cornfields of Iowa
  5. A Conference in Marquette
  6. Green Bay
  7. Lake Huron
  8. Cedar Point
  9. A Mini-Vacation along Lake Erie

So…how did this come to fruition?

I decided to incorporate three strategies to help me do what I was saying I wanted to do. And I still exercise those strategies to this day. The strategies can help you, too.

The first strategy is…observation. You have to visualize it before you can do it. If you don’t see it, you miss the opportunity. Possibilities are very much like shooting stars. Unless you slow down long enough to look, they will be forever lost in space. Once overlooked, you do nothing with a missed possibility. Remember? “More is said than done.” But when you see it, when you really see it, then you can do something with it.

What possibilities do you see or imagine when you slow down, even for a moment? What keeps popping into your head? Got it? Write it down. But now, what do you do with it?

The second strategy is to schedule your possibility. Scheduling something on your calendar helps to ensure it will turn a possibility into reality. Often, we think of something we want to do or accomplish; and then we say “someday, somehow, someway” …but we never put it on our calendars. Become adept at scheduling possibilities on your calendar no matter how far-reaching they may seem. The fact that it’s on your calendar significantly increases the likelihood of doing it.

What happens when you actually schedule a possibility? You intentionally start move things around to ensure you can do what you put on the calendar. The scheduled possibility generates momentum and specific action toward a successful outcome.

The third strategy addresses your support network. Identify a Possibility Partner. Possibility Partners are those who can assist in helping you fulfill the possibility. They’re not just friends and family. They can be anybody with a skill or expertise to help you move the intention of the possibility to reality. Your expanse of resources is only limited by the boundaries you impose.

Reflect back on the possibility you visualized in the first strategy section of this blog post. Put it on your calendar. Then identify who can support your effort toward fulfilling this really cool idea. Contact them today. You’ll be surprised at how much you actually do by incorporating these 3 simple strategies.

I can hear it now! “After all is said and done, what is said IS done.” Get to work on scheduling those possibilities!

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