• Jerry Phillips

Won't You Be My Neighbor

Last night we watched the documentary on Fred Rogers, “Won’t you be my Neighbor”. I was not a great fan of “Mr. Rogers Neighborhood” so I didn’t know how interesting it would be. It was fascinating! I wish I had slowed down enough to understand the purpose of his show, and the message he was trying to get across to the children who watched when my children were watching the program.

They showed a clip from a news channel with a talking head who was blaming him for the entitled feelings that millennials have today. It almost made me sick to my stomach. A TV personality working to take away fear from children and give them a positive attitude about life has done this? At best, it’s a stretch. There is personal accountability for the children as they grow, and there is personal accountability for their parents. Not all millennials are entitled and not all news is factual. I’m not innocent here and I’m not being judgmental. I’m suggesting we use discernment and look at our own behavior.

What struck me most was the love and respect those who worked with Fred Rogers had for him. He accepted people for who they are and helped them feel loved. That is a strong feat. At the end of the documentary they showed a clip from a graduation speech that he gave, and the person narrating said he ended every speech this way; “Take a minute and think of those that have helped you in your life.” I’ve shared in past articles how much I respect and appreciate my mentors, but I’ve never taken a full minute to think about that. Go ahead and take a minute now and think of those that have supported you on your journey. I’ll wait.

Who did you think of? Were you grateful and expressed it? As I did this, I hit the ones I always give credit to, but I also added others who I hadn’t really appreciated. I nearly doubled my list of people who had a profound impact on my life. I couldn’t help but shed a tear, and then smile as I thought through the list of people. It helped me focus on who I wish to help. Thank you, Fred Rogers! Even after you have passed, you still have a positive affect on people.

As you think of your mentors, think about the diversity of the team that has helped you. There is a lot published on diversity and how it benefits a company. Have you ever thought of why it helps? Yes, there are many different ideas generated by diverse thought. The thought occurred to me that the win is we take the best of each member of our team and we blend it to come up with something that benefits the entire group. That’s what my mentors did for me, and for that I’m extremely grateful.

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