Anyone who’s ever watched the beloved Jim Henson show Fraggle Rock knows that the Fraggles, though fun-loving, hold some pretty strong beliefs. Music, for example, is essential to everything. Radishes are pretty amazing. And when it comes to work, making the most of it is totally important.
Some of us are lucky enough to be doing exactly what we’ve always dreamed of doing. Some of us just do the best we can with the jobs we have. Because we all work more than the Fraggle-recommended thirty minutes each week, however (and without any Doozer sticks to snack on!), it’s safe to say that we’ve all felt some frustration at work.
You probably don’t work a 30-minute week here. So here to lighten your spirits and get you through are some words of wisdom from the world’s five favorite Fraggles.
Whether you’re a business owner or an entry-level employee, these thoughts from Gobo and the gang are sure to help you dance your cares away and be the best you can be—and you didn’t even have to visit the Trash Heap to hear about them.
The Magic of Mokey
Let’s start with the oldest and gentlest of the Fraggle Five. It’s easy to dismiss Mokey as a dreamer and her ideas as flowery cottonballs of thought. I mean, not only does she write poetry; she also paints. With her tail.
So would it surprise you to learn that research into what makes successful businesses so successful echoes her thoughts on leadership? It’s true. Early in 2014, the corporate consulting firm Towers Watson released a survey identifying the four qualities that high-performing organizations all focused on developing. Leadership was one of those four qualities, and you know what people had to say about it: the best leaders are the ones who walk the walk, talk the talk, roll up their sleeves, get into the trenches with their employees, and engage in all sorts of other activities that have been turned into clichéd phrases.
So Mokey Fraggle knows about leadership, and that shouldn’t surprise anyone. Even the writers at Forbes have declared that the most successful leaders have higher emotional intelligence, which Psychology Today defines as “the ability to manage your own emotions and the emotions of others.” If the poet of the group can’t identify emotions, who can?
The Wisdom of Wembley
Ah, Wembley. Who hasn’t wembled every once in a while? (For those not in the know, there are several definitions of “wembling” available across the Internet, but it basically describes being so indecisive as to be ridiculous, which is pretty much Wembley’s state of existence for most of the series.)
In business, there are any number of decisions we can make. Should I take that job? What project should I work on today? Wembley Fraggle hates making decisions. It’s a quality that’s as much a part of him as his go-to Hawaiian print shirts (which, by the way, he only owns two of, and they have the same pattern so that he won’t have trouble choosing between them in the morning). He doesn’t want to make the wrong choice, because he’s afraid of hurting someone or messing up everything.
As it turns out, though, there’s rarely a wrong choice. In fact, being open to so many possibilities only means that a person (or a Fraggle) has more solutions available for the problems ahead. Bernard Marr, a well-known business author and consultant, discussed this in a LinkedIn post in which he made a round-up of history’s notable failures. According to the post, “the one thing that successful people never do is give up just because they failed.” Instead, they try something new, even if they wemble for a while before deciding what path to take.
The Brilliance of Boober
Fun fact: in 2013, the journal Psychology and Aging published a study that declared that pessimists tend to live longer (and ultimately more fulfilling) lives than optimists. Maybe that’s why the older I get, the more I relate to Boober Fraggle and his bouts of negativity. Previously, I had thought that it was just because I liked his hat.
But Boober’s staunch refusal to look on the bright side (“I pride myself on my inability to guffaw” was another quote almost used for this post) leads him to embrace the rougher parts of life that happy-go-lucky Fraggles often ignore. And that’s good, because as I’m sure you all know, work isn’t always hugs and high fives.
“Do what you love” is popular advice on career sites. Would Boober agree with it? It’s tough to tell; I don’t know if “tedium” and “drudgery” are words he reserves strictly for things he loves, like doing laundry. But I do believe that Boober values hard work and that he’d support an Inc. article from 2014 that advocates, instead of beating yourself up over not having your dream job, finding an interest and working hard to master it.
You might not be working in a job you love. But if have a job, you are working, and there’s a growing movement to recognize the value in every kind of work, even the jobs that aren’t ideal.
So pat yourself on the back! (Then wash your hands immediately afterwards if, like Boober, you’re just a wee bit wary of germs.)
The Rationale of Red
Red was my favorite Fraggle when I was a kid. She was energetic, enthusiastic, and all sorts of other delightful adjectives that being with “e.” Well, not “emo.” Boober’s pretty much cornered the market on that one.
But Red was also efraid, er, afraid at times. She had her fears and concerns, just like every other Fraggle, and they ranged from big (being trapped in a cave with Boober with little hope of rescue for them) to small (worrying that Gobo will beat all of her records). However, she also knew that sometimes, instead of letting fear hold her back, it was better to put on a brave face.
Fear plagues entrepreneurs in all fields. Research demonstrates that fear has been a major inhibitor in, variously, the development of diverse talent in the workplace, the competitiveness of European businesses, and the willingness of women to start their own companies. But successful entrepreneurs overcome it. As business leader Kevin Daum wrote in an article for Inc.,
“…leaving the team rudderless, or believing they are is not a viable option. So [entrepreneurs] assume a position of strength and set the course. They know great people will only follow confident leaders.”
So dive into the Fraggle Rock swimming pool (or whatever challenges you face) with confidence—it’s okay if you’re afraid!
The Guidance of Gobo
Of course, it would be impossible to write a post like this without including the leader of the Fraggle gang. Is Gobo, like many leaders, occasionally a little pompous? Well, yeah. Most of the time, though, he’s brave, resourceful, and inspirational, and he’ll give credit where it’s due.
And when Gobo does learn his lesson and express his humility, why, he’s demonstrating one of the most effective qualities of a business leader. Researchers with the University of Washington Foster School of Business concluded in a 2014 paper that employees working for a humble leader felt more committed to the company vision and were less likely to quit.
Saying “thank you” to those working with and for you? It’s a good thing to do. Recognizing your weaknesses? It’s the first step toward improving them! Enjoying a radish soufflé at the end of a day? Well, maybe we don’t need to go with everything that Gobo does.
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No matter what you do for a living, there’s always time to let the music play and enjoy a little trip down to Fraggle Rock. I hope you enjoyed this selection of quotes!