At 2:00 pm on August 31, 2001, the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) aired the final original showing of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. After more than 30 years of greeting youngsters each day on television with his trademark "Hi, Neighbor," Fred Rogers, host and creator of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, put away his cardigan and sneakers for the last time.
This week, the world took pause to recognize the 50th Anniversary of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, which first aired on February 19th, 1968.
At this time of year, I often reflect on the Christmas mornings growing up in Lawrenceville, New Jersey - the opening of presents, the wrapping paper flying everywhere, the smell of freshly brewed coffee, the sound of bacon sizzling on the stove, Christmas songs playing on the stereo, and the many hugs and smiles from my grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins and friends dropping in throughout the day. But there is one Christmas in particular that I recall each year. A Christmas morning that changed my life.
It is nearly dusk as the sun greets the orange and blue horizon over Boston Harbor. Judy and her daughter, Michelle, are cuddled together on the living room couch. Michelle, just three years old, draws her baby doll closely to her chest, and holds her mother's hand tightly.
With their Thanksgiving feast now complete, family and friends gathered to listen to the traditional reading of "The Thanksgiving Letter."
It has been another long week. Your job, overall, is going well. The job pays the bills, provides benefits for the family and allows you to save something for the future. But at times, the job takes its toll on life outside of work. Yes, there are times when you have missed your child's sporting events, or it's been over a month since you have been out with your friends. And there was that time the you almost scheduled a business trip on your wedding anniversary or missed wishing your mom a "Happy Birthday." But overall, you feel you have managed well over the years to achieve a good work/family balance.
However, this is not the case for Steve and his son Billy. It's 8:30 PM as Steve finally arrives home. Eight-year-old Billy, Steve's "best buddy," is in his pajamas and ready for bed. Upon hearing the door open, Billy runs to see his Dad.
On July 4, 1776, our founding fathers of the Continental Congress signed the "Declaration of Independence" that challenged the greatest power of the world to a fight. At the core of the fight were certain "words" that were unheard of at the time of monarchies and tyrants.
Those words "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness" set the stage for an arduous struggle that lasted several years with much loss of life and property. At the end of the war with England, freedom was born, and the definition and application of those words was just beginning.
Reading the advertisements in the back of a tennis magazine, an advertisement caught a young man's attention: "The Secret of Never Losing Another Game in Tennis," offered by the only "undefeated" tennis player alive.
"This could be the answer I have been looking for!" he said to himself. "Once I have the secret, I can stop reading all these magazines for best practices, stop working out each day, and stop my special high protein and low carbohydrate diet."
He quickly completed the application form, wrote out a check for $99.95, and placed both the application and check into an envelope.
Some time ago when I was teaching a college class on responsible leadership, I asked the class to play the "Telephone Game." The "Telephone Game" is a classic communication game in which the person in the front of the room is given a short phrase to remember and then whispers the phrase into the ear of the person next to them. The process continues until the phrase reaches the last person in the room. The phrase I used that day was, "Great teams become great when each team member does more than their role, and each team member delivers their absolute best."
[Today, September 11, 2016, marks the fifteenth anniversary of the terrorist act on the World Trade Center, at the Pentagon, and in a field in Pennsylvania which took the lives of over 3,000 innocent people. Fifteen years ago, I wrote the following "Friday Story" in an effort to express the many elements of sorrow, fear, and hope that earmarked that tragic day. Today, we still have many of those elements still with us, and most likely they will always be our companions. However, it is hope that we hold onto most dearly in our efforts to comfort the wounded and bring peace to those who continue to suffer fifteen years later.]