Was Fred Rogers a Chief?

If you believe, as I do, that Chiefs are people who impact others in their behavior, then TV star Fred Rogers would qualify as among the more impactful Chiefs during his 31 seasons in the spotlight.

The power of Fred Rogers will be in full display in an upcoming film on the 50th anniversary of his first TV show on PBS in 1968. The soft-spoken Rogers taught countless children both the importance of being the best they could be and how to do it. He was the antithesis of the hard-charging and domineering character of Chief Executive Officer Gordon Gecco presented in the movie Wall Street that many to this day would associate with the word “power.”

With a calming demeanor and an ever-present cardigan, Rogers created a place where millions came over decades to learn about their potential. He taught us self-reliance, and he helped us build lives in the real world by taking us to his Land of Make Believe. Working with hand-puppet characters that we came to know and love, Rogers helped us understand that everyone has doubts, and that everyone can work through those doubts and become confident. The characters in the Land of Make Believe showed us that while self-reliance is important, it is just as important to stay connected and serve others as a member of a community.

He also offered specific lessons on how to do it: Be generous. Be grateful. Be present.

But perhaps Fred’s most powerful lesson was that of acceptance. He taught us to accept ourselves and do the best we can with what we’ve got, and that we are okay as we are. He also taught us to accept everyone around us even though they may not look like us, talk like us, or believe what we do. Everyone else is okay as they are, too. These insightful lessons taught children to be powerful in the best possible ways. With this complete flexibility, Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood felt like an inviting place for anyone to learn and grow.