What can we learn about creativity from Mister Rogers?
During the winters of my early childhood, our family would pack up the station wagon and make the long drive to Key Largo, Florida. After two days in the car, we were rewarded with counting down the mile markers on Overseas Highway to Snug Harbor, my grandparents’ home on the bay.
It was a true, tropical paradise.
I spent my days fishing for snapper and puffer fish, while pelicans and cranes lined up behind me, waiting for me to throw them my catch. They followed me all around the pier and lighthouse like puppies, and I kept a steady stream of meals coming.
In the afternoons, I’d finally go inside for a late lunch. I’d roll the giant, round ottoman in front of the television and would sit upon it, while eating a bologna sandwich and watching Mister Rogers.
My favorite meal, my favorite show, in my favorite place in the entire world.
I loved the softness, the sweet gentleness of the show and how its predictable rhythms and routines echoed the ease of daily life during Key Largo winters. Mister Rogers told me every afternoon that I was special and loved. That I had value and worth just by being myself. His calm voice and demeanor encouraged me to follow my curiosity and to seek out adventures.
For a child who tended to run high on anxiety and fear, Mister Rogers was a soothing balm on my soul like aloe on my sunburned shoulders.
I recently polled my friends in order to learn their perspective of Mister Rogers, as well as how he influenced their lives. The responses were consistent across the board: he was a calming, loving presence who beautifully modeled unconditional love.
So, what does Mister Rogers have to do with our adult lives and our creativity?
If you are like me, you have grown weary of what I call the current “Hustle & Slay” culture of entrepreneurship. The amped up thought leaders and coaches, with cups of coffee or tea in their hands, admonishing us to whip our inner wusses into submission and to make that 7 figures by the end of the 4th Quarter.
Push, push, push. Drive, drive, drive. Discipline, damnit!
And as our mirror neurons pick up on all that cortisol and adrenaline, our minds dart around, looking in a panic for the things we should be doing with urgency. Rather than being settled into ourselves, working from a place of calm confidence, we are in a blender, frothing around in a dreaded sense that we are not enough.
After all, we perceive, if the path to where we are going requires such relentless effort and the continual kicking of our own asses, we must be starting out the journey with missing what it takes to succeed.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
While, yes, the path can be challenging and sometimes is downright gut wrenching, we are already enough before we begin. The way to bring out the best within ourselves is to remember our job is to be Mister Rogers for that fearful, anxious creator that exists within each of us.
We coax ourselves forward with unconditional love, while letting Resistance ebb and flow. (Fear-based action only creates more Resistance.)
Ideas need to simmer and percolate into maturity. Transcending our myriad blocks is best done by entering new states of being that quiet the racing mind, not enflame it. Relentless push creates an equal push back, not real progress (nor the mining of the untold riches of our unique, creative power).
Sometimes taking a nap is the best battery for sparking your creativity.
By loving and healing ourselves, we cross the chasm and transcend the parts of us that have long been stuck. The old mindsets and emotions that rear up when we decide to march. In our becoming our fully creative selves, we embrace our ultimate transformation that is enduring.
We arrive… powered from our true selves, loved and whole… not from believing the lie we are not enough.