As I typed out the title for the latest Reel Leadership article, I couldn’t help but want to sing the song It’s a Beautiful Day in This Neighborhood. The title of A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood brings back all sorts of memories.
Yet, A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood won’t tell you the story you were expecting. At least it didn’t for me.
I was expecting this movie to be about Mr. Fred Rogers (Tom Hanks), his life, and Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. In A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood, you get to see people from Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. These include Mr. McFeely (Daniel Krell), president and CEO of The Fred Rogers Company Bill Isler (Enrico Colantoni), and producer Margy (Carmen Cusack). But these people aren’t the main focus.
While it did touch on a few aspects of Mr. Rogers’ life, A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood wasn’t about Mr. Rogers. A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood was about a report named Llyod Vogel (Matthew Rhys). In real life, the reporter’s name wasn’t Lloyd, though. The reporter was a man named Tom Junod. Tom wrote an article in 1998 for Esquire Magazine covering Mr. Rogers.
Llyod was a reporter for Esquire Magazine. He was put on assignment to interview Mr. Rogers for an article for the magazine. This changed the course of Lloyd’s life and that of his family.
A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood is a stunning tale that grips you from beginning to end. It will toy with your emotions (there may or may not have been someone cutting onions in our theater). And it will give you a deeper understanding of Mr. Rogers and the work he did.
I believe A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood will do more than that. A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood will also help you hone your leadership skills and become a better leader. Today, we will look at the leadership lessons in A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood and how you can apply them to your time as a leader.
Quotes And Leadership Lessons From A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood
1. Get comfortable but not too comfortable:
When Mr. Rogers entered his house on the set of Mr. Rogers Neighborhood, he got comfortable. He took off his dress shoes and put on a pair of Converse or Sperrys shoes. While it is said he did this more to be quiet than to be comfortable, I have a feeling comfort had something to do with the changing of his shoes.
Leaders need to be like Mr. Rogers here. They need to be able to get comfortable when needed.
A leader that is uncomfortable will give off a vibe that will hurt their leadership. An uncomfortable leader is a leader people don’t want to follow.
Learn how to become comfortable in your role as a leader.
2. Introduce people:
Mr. Rogers had a board rolled onto the set. The board looked like a giant advent calendar. There were multiple doors. Behind each door was a photo.
Many of the photos were of people from Mr. Rogers’ neighborhood. There were photos of King Friday the 13th, Lady Aberlin, and of someone new… a photo of a bloodied Llyod Vogel.
Mr. Rogers used this as an opportunity to introduce Llyod to the viewers of this movie. Llyod would play a big part in A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood. Regardless of the role, Mr. Rogers knew the importance of introducing people. Especially new people.
Leaders have to become comfortable with introducing people to one another. This could be a new customer to his team or a new team member to the organization. One of the best things a leader can do is to make introductions.
Introductions expand the network of leaders and of those they lead. They help people to get to know one another and to grow themselves.
Be an introducer.
3. Find people who can do things better than you:
Lloyd was a new father. He and his wife, Andrea Vogel (Susan Kelechi Watson) had to travel via a taxi with their child. Llyod struggled and struggled to get the car seat installed properly.
Andrea spoke up and offered to install the car seat. She took only seconds to install the car seat and they could be on their way.
Have you ever experienced a situation like this? You are trying to do something you weren’t knowledgable in. Someone else comes along and the task is done in seconds?
I think we all have. We all want to think we can do everything. We can’t.
You have to be willing to seek out talent. Talent that is smarter and better than you in the areas that you can’t do well.
Be a leader who is willing to bring smarter people onto the team. These people will help propel the organization forward.
4. Mr. Rogers:
Have you ever felt the way Llyod has?
Llyod’s father, Jerry (Chris Cooper) and his girlfriend Dorothy (Wendy Makkena), showed up to Llyod’s house unannounced. He also walked Llyod’s sister, Lorraine (Tammy Blanchard), down the aisle at her wedding.
Jerry had left Lorraine and Llyod’s mother while she was on her deathbed. The siblings had been estranged from their father for many years.
When Jerry reappeared, Llyod was understandably upset. Why could Jerry show up and become a part of the family again? He’d abandoned his family all those years ago.
Llyod was angry. He was furious. He wanted nothing to do with his father.
We all feel anger. We all feel mad. And we all feel frustration.
We’re human. That’s what humans do.
The question is: How do you respond to the anger you feel.
5. Mr. Rogers:
There’s always something you can do with the mad you feel.
Mr. Rogers used Llyod as an example. He was angry. He also expressed his anger in inappropriate ways.
In fact, one of those ways was to punch his father at his sister’s wedding! How rude and inappropriate.
When you feel mad, you have to find an appropriate response to your anger. You can’t go and punch someone. You have to direct your anger in the right direction.
Here are some of the things you can do with your anger:
- Go for a run
- Swim a few laps
- Write out your feelings
- Pound out all of the lower notes on a piano at once
- Pray for people
- Read scripture
When you learn to redirect your anger in an appropriate way, you will find yourself in a much better place.
6. Your reputation will precede you:
Ellen (Christine Lahti) was the Llyod’s editor at Esquire. She had set up an interview between Mr. Rogers and Llyod.
We learn why Llyod was to interview Mr. Rogers. Ellen had reached out to multiple targets. Only Mr. Rogers was willing to be interviewed by Llyod.
Llyod had a reputation. He would interview a subject and then rip them apart in the column. People were hesitant to be interviewed by Llyod because of how he portrayed them. Lloyd’s reputation preceded him.
Your reputation will precede you. The way you treat others will be talked about amongst those in your business and career path. People talk and people find out how others treat people.
If you treat people badly, you will gain a negative reputation. People won’t want to work with you. On the other hand, if you treat people well, your reputation will be good. People will look at you and see someone they could possibly want to work with.
Work on building a great reputation. You need to have a reputation people will respect and admire, not one where people will think ill of you.
7. Seize an opportunity:
Llyod had called to schedule an interview with Mr. Rogers. To his surprise, Llyod received a phone call at his house from Mr. Rogers. Llyod let Mr. Rogers know he would like to schedule a time to speak with him. Mr. Rogers did something really cool. He told Llyod “Well, you already have me on the phone. Why not now?”
Mr. Rogers seized an opportunity. A connection had already been made. The phone had been picked up. The two were already talking. Why not talk to him at this point in time?
What opportunities are you missing because you’re not readily available? Have you called someone and began a conversation with them only to push another meeting on them?
I love how author Bob Goff is so open and available. He lives this principle by putting his phone number in his book Love Does. That’s being available and seizing opportunities!
You can be an opportunity seizer. You can choose to take a call and change a life. Or you can be present when a team member needs you.
Leaders seize opportunities in front of them. They don’t push them off for another day.
8. Great leaders are interested in other people:
Two interesting things about Mr. Rogers. He asked questions of Lloyd when Lloyd was supposed to be interviewing him. The interviews became about Lloyd and his life, not Mr. Rogers.
The second thing was Mr. Rogers loved to take photos of the people he met. He had tons of photos of other people. Rarely, if ever, did Mr. Rogers appear in those photos.
Mr. Rogers was interested in others. He wasn’t seeking fame, fortune, or notoriety. Mr. Rogers had a deep love and interest in getting to know people.
Great leaders aren’t interested solely in making a buck. Great leaders are interested in other people. They seek to get to know those they lead, those they do business with, and those they cross paths with.
Begin to ask questions of those around you. Seek to learn more about them, their history, and their lives.
9. Take time for people:
Mr. Rogers showed how important people were. When Lloyd visited the set of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, he stopped filming and went to greet Lloyd. At another point in A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood, Mr. Rogers says that talking to Lloyd on the phone is the most important thing.
Taking time for people can be a chore. You have to rearrange your important schedule to be present for others. Yet, if you’re present, if you take time for others, magical things begin to happen.
People begin to feel valued. People begin to see you care. And people want to be there for you.
Take time for people. Be there when they need you.
10. Even leaders have problems:
Mr. Rogers was on set and had to put up a tent. He struggled with the tent. It almost looked as if he were dancing with the tent rather than trying to get it up.
Mr. Rogers’ filming crew told him they could refilm the setup. He didn’t want to refilm the attempt. He wanted to use the film reel they already had.
Why? He wanted to show the children watching the show that adults had problems too. Adults weren’t perfect. They would struggle too.
Do you try to make people think you don’t have any problems as a leader? You’re doing your team a disservice.
You need to be willing to share your flaws with those you lead. Many people on your team may think you have it all together. Or they may think you have no clue what you’re doing but you’re trying to hide your flaws.
Be a leader who is willing to share and show their problems. Be honest with those you lead.
In doing so, you will create an understanding between yourself and those you lead.
11. Mr. Rogers:
I don’t think of myself as a hero.
Lloyd tried to get Mr. Rogers to say that he was a hero. Mr. Rogers couldn’t say this. He didn’t see himself as a hero.
What he saw himself as was a man who was trying to make the world a better place. This didn’t make him a hero. This made him human.
How do you see yourself? Do you see yourself as the hero of your organization or team? Or do you see yourself as someone who is trying to make the organization better?
You need to have a proper view of yourself. You’re not a hero. You’re no better than those you lead.
What are you is someone who is doing what is right.
12. Great leaders get to the bottom of things:
Lloyd had told others that his bruised face was from a play at the plate. Mr. Rogers knew the story was baloney. He asked Lloyd what really happened.
As he did this, Lloyd opened up. He told the truth. He admitted he had been in a fight with his father at his sister’s wedding.
Mr. Rogers could have believed Lloyd’s story. He didn’t. He knew there was more than meets the eye. And he wouldn’t let it get away.
When you see something that isn’t right, do you keep asking questions? Do you dig deeper?
Great leaders aren’t willing to live with a lie. They know they need the truth.
To get to the truth, they will gently pry away at the cover. They will ask the right questions in the right way.
Be a leader who gets to the bottom of things. Don’t let lies exist in your organization.
13. Great leaders deal with tough issues:
Mr. Rogers was a children’s show that dealt with tough issues. Many of these issues wouldn’t be considered issues to discuss with children today. Yet, he had a way to talk about the tough issues of life.
He talked about divorce, anger, forgiveness, fear, death, and war. He didn’t shy away from the tough issues.
Neither should you.
Great leaders deal with the tough issues that come up in their organizations and the lives of their team members. They’re willing to work through the tough issues and help people make it through.
What are you doing to help your team deal with the tough issues that they’re dealing with? Your team members are dealing with divorce, family problems, health issues, issues at work, and so much more.
Be a leader that helps their team navigate the tough issues of life and work.
14. Lloyd Vogel:
He’s a lot more complex than I thought.
Lloyd reported back to Ellen what he learned about Mr. Rogers. Lloyd had discovered a deepness to Mr. Rogers he hadn’t expected to find.
Mr. Rogers wasn’t a cookie-cutter TV host. He was deep and thoughtful. He cared and he showed it.
You’re deeper and more complex than people think. The people you lead are deeper and more complex than you think they are.
Know this when you have to deal with people. They’re unique and complex. They’re struggling and trying to figure out this world.
15. Thank others:
Andrea was awakened by a phone call from Mr. Rogers. He had called for Lloyd but chose to talk with Andrea for a few minutes. In his conversation with Andrea, Mr. Rogers thanked her for sharing Lloyd with him.
Mr. Rogers knew he was taking Lloyd away from his family while he was meeting with him. His family needed him but they chose to let someone else have him for a time.
Great leaders are thankful leaders. They understand they can’t run a successful business without others.
Much of my career has been in the manufacturing business. I see the hard work the production team does when I walk the floor.
They are producing a product in a physically demanding environment. It is easy to overlook them and not appreciate the hard work they do.
Truth be told, if they weren’t producing parts, the businesses I worked in would go under. I am thankful for the men and women who are out there on the production floor producing product.
Who do you need to thank? Think of your team members, their spouses, their children, their parents… These people are giving up time with their loved ones to help your organization be successful. You can thank them.
16. Joanne Rogers (Maryann Plunkett):
Listen, it’s important for you to know that he was not a saint. Because if you think of him as a saint, then his message is unattainable.
Joanne Rogers was Mr. Rogers’ wife. She said something that stuck with me in A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood. She shared that Mr. Rogers was not a saint. We shouldn’t think of him as such either.
Her feeling was if people thought of Mr. Rogers as a saint, his message wasn’t attainable. People wouldn’t be able to relate. They would see him as something above them.
I hate to break this to you but you’re not a saint, either. Leaders are no better than those they lead.
You have to be relatable and down to earth for your team to connect with you. They have to see you as human. They have to see you as someone like them.
When they see you as such, they see someone they can be like. If they see you as someone who has far surpassed them, they will struggle with seeing you as someone they can become.
17. Sharing problems is bravery:
With the work Mr. Rogers did, he had people lining up to tell him their problems. Mr. Rogers didn’t despise these problems or the people telling him their problems.
Rather, Mr. Rogers saw these people as brave. They were willing to open up and share their problems with another person.
He understood how difficult this was. Telling someone else your problems makes you vulnerable. Vulnerability makes you brave.
Mr. Rogers is gone. You can’t line up to tell him your problems. This doesn’t mean you should tell someone else about your problems.
You need to find yourself a pain partner. A pain partner is someone you can tell your problems to. They will listen to you. They will cry with you. And they will walk with you through your problems.
Be brave, find yourself a pain partner.
18. There’s more work to be done:
Mr. Rogers ended Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood for three years between 1976 and 1979. At the time he ended the show, he felt like he had nothing more to cover.
This changed. He returned in 1979 to cover more important topics in the lives of children. He’d realized his mission wasn’t done. He continued Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood for another 22 years when the show ended in 2001.
Mr. Rogers’ return showed there was more work to be done. The same is true for leaders and their work.
There is always more work to be done. You may take a break for a year or two or three only to return when there is more to be done.
You will always be able to share more, do more, and be more. Look for where you are needed and go there.
19. Jerry Vogel:
It took me years to get myself together.
Jerry Vogel was a mess. He’d cheated on his wife, Lila Vogel (Jessica Hecht). He’d left his children in their greatest time of need. You wouldn’t say Jerry was a good man.
Jerry realized this later in his life. He admitted to his foibles. He realized he screwed up his life early on and hurt his family. Jerry admitted it took years for him to get his life together.
You’re going to have struggles. You’re going to deal with issues from your past. Many of these issues will haunt you for years. You will struggle to get yourself together.
Know you can get yourself together. You can recover from your past. You can become better than you were yesterday. Don’t let your past hold you back.
Do what you can to make up for your past mistakes and move forward.
20. People are on your side even if you feel like they’re not:
Andrea and Lloyd got into a fight as Lloyd was trying to leave the hospital. Lloyd’s father had a heart attack and he was receiving treatment in the hospital. Lloyd felt as if he had to go back to work. Andrea disagreed.
They argued. Andrea told Lloyd he needed to be at the hospital. Lloyd felt as if Andrea wasn’t on his side.
Andrea was on Lloyd’s side. This is why she was telling him he needed to stay at the hospital. He needed to make things right with his father. He needed to be there for his wife and child.
It can be hard to hear the truth from others. Their words can sting and you can feel conviction. The conviction can feel like an attack.
Know the people who love and care about you aren’t attacking you. They are on your side. They are trying to help you from hurting yourself or others.
If you feel like someone isn’t on your side, examine why you feel this way. More than likely, they are on your side. You’re feeling the pain of being wrong and fighting against what you know is right.
21. You don’t have to hold onto anger:
Lloyd had a vision of visiting his mother in her hospital room. The pair talk.
Lila tells Lloyd she believed Lloyd was holding onto the anger for her. She told him he didn’t need him to hold onto the anger. Lloyd needed to let it go.
We may see someone wronged. In seeing the wrong, we hold onto anger or bitterness towards the offender. We do this because we feel we can right the wrong or our bitterness is revenge for the wrong.
Ugh… We can’t hold onto the bitterness and anger over the actions of others. We have to let go of it. As much as it may hurt us to do so.
Holding onto anger only hurts you. When you hold onto the anger, you’re hurting yourself. Many times the person that has offended you or someone you love doesn’t even know you’re holding onto the anger.
As Elsa in Frozen would say, let it go. Get rid of the anger. Move on.
22. Lloyd Vogel:
Maybe I could slow down for a while.
Lloyd had been busy interviewing Mr. Rogers and other famous people. He would travel for extended periods of time. He would leave his family while doing this.
After the death of his father and his time with Mr. Rogers, Lloyd realized he needed to slow down for a time. He could stay home and help raise his son, Gavin.
Do you need to consider slowing down? Do you need to pump the brakes on everything you’ve taken on?
I often have to remind myself to slow down. I learned this the hard way when I burned out from serving in the church.
When I saw a need, I felt it was up to me to step up and serve. Multiple days of youth service, young adult classes, small groups… I needed to be there and serving.
Truth be told, I didn’t. Pam didn’t either. We needed to slow down. We needed to serve where we fit best.
You need to slow down too. You need to look at everything you’re doing and make sure it is a fit. If it isn’t, step back.
Other people will step in to fill the void. You’re replaceable. Your family isn’t.
23. Great leaders forgive:
I thought A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood was going to be about Mr. Rogers. It wasn’t. A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood was about learning to forgive others who have wronged you.
Lloyd had to learn this with his father. He had to come to a point where he could forgive Jerry.
You and I, we have people who we need to forgive. Whether it is a loved one, a former business partner, or maybe a boss who unjustly fired you… We all have people we need to forgive.
Forgiveness opens you up to new possibilities and gives you permission to move on.
Stop with the unforgiveness. Choose to forgive those who have wronged you. Not only will it make your life better, but forgiving people also opens you up to being a better leader.
Question: If you’ve watched A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood, what leadership lessons did you take away from the movie? If you haven’t seen the movie, what Reel Leadership lessons from A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood that I shared resonated with you? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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