We hit the theater last week and saw - Won’t You Be My Neighbor - the Mr. Rogers Documentary.
The movie emphasized Rogers’ overriding theme - we’re all special just the way we are - and his desire to share this message with children. The documentary also shared that Rogers-haters (people actually protested across the street during his funeral) blamed Rogers and his message for leading the failed self-esteem movement. The idea that everyone thinks they’re so special for doing absolutely nothing.
The first question I asked myself was - what kind of person gets out of bed and decides to go protest at Fred Rogers’ funeral? The second question was whether the idea that “we’re all special just as we are” is really such a disaster.
I say that as someone who hates participation awards and all the contrived self-esteem crap. But I’m also someone who has seen examples of life, business, fate beating the hell out of people. So there are definitely times where a little “we’re special just as we are” is the exact right medicine.
But we have to be careful not to overdo it. Not to get too high on our accomplishments. So comfortable with our specialness that we become complacent, entitled, narcissistic.
So “I’m special” needs to be paired with “I’m not SO special”. In other words security needs to be paired with insecurity. The best I’ve ever heard this explained is by author Oliver Burkeman in his book The Antidote where he says…
“Insecurity is another word for life… feeling secure and really living life are, in some ultimate sense, opposites.”
Point being that we need insecurity. In proper doses it forces us to question ourselves, our abilities, our accomplishments, our beliefs, our priorities, and to take action. To make change.
And if you watch the Rogers movie you see this exact conflict playing out. Even after all his years of success, Fred Rogers still doubted his ability to do the job. The king of feeling secure about ourselves felt insecure when it came to his own abilities. And then he mined that insecurity for the energy he needed to move forward - and he got to work.
Just like Fred Rogers, we have to learn to dance with the devil of insecurity and to like it. To use that energy to our advantage...
If you want to read more on this topic I’ve hit it a couple times in the past. Take a look at post #14 The Asshole That Puts Me Down: Dealing With Self Criticism
and post #83 This Is Why Your Business Is Mediocre: Embrace Your Insecurity
Have a wonderful day in your neighborhood...