Who Is Your Hero?
If you grew up in the 1970s and 1980s as I did, you likely did so on a steady diet of relatively limited television content. There was no YouTube, TikTok, or Instagram. Gaming devices were primitive, and telecommunication consisted of landline telephones. Innovation in consumer technology those days was call waiting, compact discs, and the advent of cable television. If you were lucky, the media you consumed consisted of daily episodes of Sesame Street and other educational, wholesome PBS content. I immigrated to the States when I was eight years old and my rather unconventional father somehow missed the parenting memo. So I somehow became an avid fan of the TV series Good Times, a show about the Evans family who lived in a public housing project in a poor Black neighborhood in inner-city Chicago. As a latchkey white kid living in a two-bedroom apartment in LA, I'm not sure I had that much in common with the characters in the show. But I adored it nonetheless, appreciating the love and grit of this American family. While I ended up missing much of the “conventional” pop culture of that era, I wouldn't have traded this aspect of my childhood for anything. One byproduct of this experience was a rather embarrassing misconception of a man named Fred Rogers, the creator and star of the television show Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. Having never seen a single episode, Fred Rogers was an afterthought to me – a strange, cardigan-wearing man who played with toy animals and sang to children. That all changed for me in 2018 after watching what has become my favorite documentary of all time, Won't You Be My Neighbor, a stunning portrait of the life and contribution of this extraordinary man. As I sat at the end of the film with tear streaks still present on my cheeks, I realized how much I had missed in those early years. What a treasure this man was, I thought to myself. More importantly, it became clear to me that I finally had my role model – a figure that I could hold up as an example of how I want to live my life. Fred Rogers is to me the embodiment of love. The Stoics had a practice of consciously bringing to mind a role model. Someone who could figuratively stand next to you as a guide and source of inspiration. These were usually historical figures. In some cases, a Stoic would form a council of individuals, each one representing a particular admired value or character trait. It is a practice that I have recently adopted. I call this collection of individuals my Council of Elders. I regularly consult this council when I am faced with a particularly challenging decision as a CEO, giving advice to a client, or trying somehow to be the best version of myself with family and friends. As you head into the year, hopefully clearer about who you are and what you want to accomplish, you would be well served to choose and consult a role model to figuratively stand by your side on your journey. If you have one already, consider adding others and forming a personal Board of Directors. And please drop me a line to let me know who you choose. Tuesday Tips
The world lost one of my heroes, the Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh. Please read about his incredible life and contributions here.
If you haven’t tried Wordle, the new simple yet highly entertaining and addictive online spelling game that has become an overnight sensation, you should try it. Here’s an article on the origin of the game that has gone viral.
My favorite Fred Rogers quote: “Everyone longs to be loved. And the greatest thing that we can do is to let people know that they are loved and capable of loving.”