Are you a good neighbor?

Jann FreedLeading Leave a Comment

Leaders build community and communities consist of neighbors.  What does it mean to be a good neighbor?  Why is it important to be a good neighbor where you live and in the workplace?  Read this post to find out.  

Last week I saw the documentary “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” about Mister Rogers.  The timing of this film could not be better.  We need more civility, kindness, and calmness in our lives right now–at least I do.  Plus I learned things about him that I did not know, but they make so much sense.  For example, I did not know he was educated as a minister.  But his kindness and philosophy about life is admirable.   I recommend this blog post by a leadership expert about Mister Rogers and moral leadership.  Now is the time for moral leadership.

Fred Rogers graduated from Dartmouth and it is worth watching his commencement speech from 2002.  Since I just blogged about the value of commencement speeches, it is worth the time to watch and listen to Mister Rogers.  The new documentary and every interview I watched with Mister Rogers reflected how he was always teaching people how to handle the highs and lows of life–the joys and sorrows that are inevitable.  He understood the integration of life and work and how the choices we make in life shape who we are and who we become.  Mister Rogers believed that “what was essential is invisible to the eye.”

Many us live in neighborhoods where a good neighbor is someone who does not bother you.  We put up privacy fences to keep our neighbors out or at least to delineate whose property is whose.  One of the main themes in Leading with Wisdom:  Sage Advice from 100 Experts is how leaders need to build community in organizations.  Since this is important, it is worth thinking about what makes a good neighbor and how to build community.  Often the small stuff, is the big stuff.

If you had to borrow a cup of sugar, do you have a neighbor to ask? 

How well do you know your neighbors?  

Two years ago, I walked around the block and left flyers about a potluck at our house from 5-7 pm on a Sunday evening.  The flyer asked people to bring a beverage and side dish to share and we would provide the BBQ.  No RSVP, just show up.  And we had about 30 people!  I had name tags and people seemed to have a good time.As I write this, I am reminded it is time for me to host another neighborhood potluck because we have some new people in the neighborhood.

This is from Fred Roger’s speech when he was inducted into the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Hall of Fame in 1999:
“But how do we make goodness attractive? By doing whatever we can do to bring courage to those whose lives move near our own — by treating our ‘neighbor’ at least as well as we treat ourselves and allowing that to inform everything that we produce.”

If you are less than 20, you likely do not know the influence of Mister Rogers.  Watch this clip below.  We need influence such as Mister Rogers now more than ever!

How well are you living up to the values of a neighbor as defined by Mister Rogers?

What are you doing to build community in your organization (department, division, neighborhood)?