Leadership Guidance from the World’s Nicest Grown-Up

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The “World’s Nicest Grown-Up,” now that’s an enviable moniker. He’s also been called the Dalai Lama of television, a Pied Piper, and even messianic.

Think nice, sweater-addicts can’t get ahead? With a U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom, a Hollywood Walk of Fame Star, and 40 honorary university degrees, his net worth was over $8 million when he died in 2003.

Welcome to Fred Rogers’ neighborhood, a place where leaders mine solid gold.

Mr. Rogers’ 15 Lessons for Leaders

1. Want to achieve ultimate success? Be Kind. “There are three ways to ultimate success: The first way is to be kind. The second way is to be kind. The third way is to be kind.”

2. What to do in times of stress? Ask Questions, Listen With Heart. “In times of stress, the best thing we can do for each other is to listen with our ears and our hearts and to be assured that our questions are just as important as our answers.”

3. Think you can have it all? Nope. Make Choices. “You rarely have time for everything you want in this life, so you need to make choices. And hopefully your choices can come from a deep sense of who you are. ”

mister-rogers-quote-1a4. Want to grow your leadership? Embrace Problems. “It’s the very wrestling with our problems that can be the impetus for our growth.”

5. Looking for meaning? Serve, See Depth. “Life is service.” “Life is deep and simple, and what our society gives us is shallow and complicated.”

6. Want heaven on earth? Be Connected. “The connections we make in the course of a life—maybe that’s what heaven is.”

7. What’s important about you? Who You Are. “It’s really easy to fall into the trap of believing that what we do is more important than what we are. Of course, it’s the opposite that’s true: What we are ultimately determines what we do!”

8. How to incent ethics? Make Goodness Attractive. “Try your best to make goodness attractive. That’s one of the toughest assignments you’ll ever be given.” mister-rogers-quote-8

9. Desire a growth culture? Establish A Growth Atmosphere. “There’s a world of difference between insisting on someone’s doing something and establishing an atmosphere in which that person can grow into wanting to do it.”

10. Want sustainably good work from others? Show Belief. “Anyone who has ever been able to sustain good work has had at least one person–and often many–who have believed in him or her. We just don’t get to be competent human beings without a lot of different investments from others.”

11. Want to understand the secret of people? Love. “Everyone longs to be loved. And the greatest thing we can do is to let people know that they are loved and capable of loving.”

12. Dream of being a heroic leader? Take Responsibility (in a BIG Way). “We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It’smister-rogers-6 easy to say “It’s not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem.” Then there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people my heroes.”

13. Need to nourish your soul? Be Trustworthy. “It’s not the honors and the prizes and the fancy outsides of life which ultimately nourish our souls. It’s the knowing that we can be trusted, that we never have to fear the truth, that the bedrock of our very being is good stuff.”

14. Want to show your strength? All About Feelings. “Confronting our feelings and giving them appropriate expression always takes strength, not weakness. It takes strength to talk about our feelings and to reach out for help and comfort when we need it.”

15. Striving to live and lead to the fullest? Remember:

There’s only one person in the world like you.” 

Fred Rogers’ signed letters to a struggling friend with the simple acronym:  IPOY  I am proud of you. Imagine leading, loving, and serving like that!

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Encore post, first published October 27, 2014.

Sources: Fred Rogers, You Are Special: Neighborly Wit And Wisdom From Mister Rogers and Fred Rogers, The World According to Mister Rogers: Important Things to Remember

Images:  The Fred Rogers Company

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