A Beautiful Day at Work?
There is a reason the teachings of Mr. Rogers are being celebrated on so many levels at this point in time. Whether we realize it consciously or not, every one of us is starving for the kind of connection and acceptance Fred Rogers provided to us in his life and as a leader. Each one of us deserves to be valued for the talents we uniquely bring to the table and for being exactly who we are.
A recent story by Jeanne Marie Laskas in NYTimes Magazine is rich with the lessons from behind the scenes with Mr. Rogers. She was his friend and observed as he brilliantly created paths of acceptance for children and adults, with all of their feelings in response to their given circumstances. “Fred was able to somehow disappear in the most beautiful way while encouraging others to flourish.” He was a true collaborator, allowing the unique gifts of others to also shine as his ideas and programs came to life.
Ms. Laskas shares interviews with those who worked closely with Fred Rogers over the years. They describe a place where I would like to work. And more importantly, the kind of person I want to work for or with. These lessons coming into the light again are very timely.
In my experience, very few people feel completely valued in their work, which is a key reason that Gallup shows employee engagement at less than 35% year after year. How have we as employers allowed this new state of working to become acceptable?
We (you and me) have the power to change this. It begins with leadership and compassion. If you observe Fred Roger’s style, it is his kindness and acceptance of human nature that lifted others and had the greatest impact. This approach didn’t require additional funding or time. When we align with nature most everything else gets easier.
There is a growing body of evidence proving that our businesses thrive when we focus our attention on treating others with compassion and allow them to bring their true gifts to light. It begins with how we treat ourselves and each other.
Imagine if the words from this simple song by Fred Rogers described our experience with our manager or our coworkers?
“It’s you I like. It’s not the things you wear. It’s not the way you do your hair. But it’s you I like. The way you are right now. The way down deep inside you, not the things that hide you. Not your degrees. They are just beside you. But it’s you I like. Every part of you. Your skin, your eyes, your feelings, whether old or new. I hope that you’ll remember, even when you’re feeling blue. It’s you I like. It’s you yourself. It’s you. It’s you I like.”
“If you could provide an environment that allowed people to be comfortable enough to be, simply, who they are, what would happen? Whom would they become?” Each of us can learn from the teachings of Mr. Rogers and there is no better time than now to try. We all need to hear from someone who cares that we are accepted exactly as we are and that we are enough. Will you be that person today for others? I am going to try.