It seems like only yesterday I felt overly joyful when a certain man, who I dearly love, would come home and put on that red cardigan, change his walking shoes, and tell the world how special I really was. No, I am not talking about a boyfriend…this was a platonic love that was so much different than any relationship I have ever had. It was Mister Rogers!
If there is one thing in the world you can relate to — on any of the life lessons to any aspect of your life — it is the teachings of dear Fred. It has been 8 years since his passing, but I still maintain the legacy of his ever-existing philosophy of self-worth and kindness to others. Even as an adult, I apply his advice to every aspect my life, including in the work place. And so can you! Whether you are applying them to marketing or simply just existing in a company as a fellow worker bee, Mister Rogers spoke potent words that cannot help but stick around. So without further ado, here are some encouraging words from the Buddha of children’s television!
Relationship building is the most important thing in life. When Mister Rogers would come in the door, he would ask: “Would you be my neighbor?” He did not discriminate, either; he wanted anyone and everyone to be his neighbor. He thought that everyone was special and important in their own way. Apply this to your social and work settings, whether it is customer relationships or a relationship from co-worker to co-worker. Welcome the people around you and make everyone feel important; when they feel that warmth and acceptance it is likely they will stick around.
“And loving other people is food for the spirit.” –Fred Rogers
Be observant and be a good listener. Communication is very important in relationships, customer service, and getting yourself out there. Being observant is extremely important when it comes to communicating with others. In fact, observation is just as important as talking when communicating. More often than not, people only focus on what they have to contribute to conversations! However, this is certainly a door that swings both ways. Listening is much more important than making sure YOU are being heard, especially when it comes to friends’ or customers’ concerns.
“… Look… And listen…Listen carefully / That’s a way you learn a lot of things, carefully / Some things you see are confusing, some things you hear are strange, But if you ask someone to explain one or two / You’ll begin to notice a change in you / If you will look carefully / Listen carefully / That’s a way to keep on growing carefully / Look, look, look, and listen.”
Know your self-worth. If you don’t respect yourself, then who will? Confidence (without being cocky) is very important for not only your image but also for the image of your company. If you lack confidence then no one will take you seriously, and the same could also be said if you think too highly of yourself. Mister Rogers always conveyed this ideal any way he could to permanently instill children with self-worth and unfiltered confidence to succeed in life. To this day, when I feel sad and disappointed in myself, I remember the following words and it is like a ray of sunshine on a rainy day.
“You are special just the way you are / There is no one else in the world like you…”
Make your brand stand out; after all it is what you believe in. Much like Mister Rogers’ ability to stand up for what he believed in, his persistence for his beliefs undoubtedly became the brand for generations — and memorable one at that. Mister Rogers saw a different kind of profit in his brand: integrity. In 1969, Rogers appeared before U.S. Senate representatives in order to support the funding of PBS (Public Broadcasting Service) in response to a dramatic budget cut proposal. His six-minute speech discussed the need for public television and claimed that such a varied education was necessary to viewers. After all, without shows like his own Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, how could children learn to become productive citizens in spite of the less positive messages in the media? Mister Rogers even recited the lyrics to one of his songs in order to back up his claims. His passion obviously shone through, because he even managed to sway the chairman of the subcommittee, John O. Pastore, who was not previously familiar with Rogers’ work. Rogers’ passion was so great, in fact, that Pastore not only approved the $20 million funding request but also claimed to have goosebumps afterwards! In 1971, PBS funding jumped from $9 million to $22 million. You can watch the famous Mister Rogers speech below:
“I like to take my time / I mean that when I want to do a thing / I like to take my time to get it right / I mean I just might make mistakes / If I should have to hurry up / And so I like to take my time…”
Be optimistic! Without optimism and determination to make every day count, you are not going to go very far. Optimism is contagious, so don’t be afraid to use that “every day is a new day” attitude! This concept may be simple, but it’s a challenging one to implement. Mister Rogers will always be the first one to say: “It’s such a good feeling, to know you’re alive. It’s such a happy feeling, you’re growing inside. And when you wake up, ready to say, ‘I think I’ll make a snappy new day’. It’s such a good feeling, a very good feeling. The feeling you know that I’ll be back, when the day is new, and I’ll have more ideas for you, and you’ll have things you’ll want to talk about. I… Will… Too!”
You can make believe it happens, or pretend that something’s true / You can wish or hope or contemplate a thing you’d like to do / But until you start to do it, you will never see it through / ‘Cause the make believe pretending just won’t do it for you. You’ve… Got… To… Do it. Every little bit / You’ve got to do it.
Overall, no one can tell you how to make yourself successful. Mister Rogers could only hope that, with his kind words of wisdom and optimism for children and adults alike, his viewers would grow up to be successful and good people. He merely gives you the building blocks and you have to build your life’s success and happiness. When I know someone like him believes in me, I am more than happy to take his words of wisdom and create a lasting brand (whether business or personal) that I believe in.
What’s your favorite piece of Mister Rogers wisdom? Did you watch the show as a child? What else can we learn from him as professionals or individuals?