This year The Muppets made a triumphant return to the big screen! I was more than happy to welcome them back as childhood memories of Sesame Street and The Muppet Show came rushing back to me full force. I love everything about The Muppets, and I’m not ashamed to admit it! I love their googly eyes, furry faces, big mouths, and colorful plumage! But my love for The Muppets isn’t just felt deep.
There’s something more that makes them so endearing and gives them a home so close to my heart, but what is it?! Then it struck me, many of the values I have today can be traced back to the lessons I learned from the beloved Muppets of my youth!
In honor of The Oscars, I thought it would be appropriate to write about the important lessons I’ve learned from The Muppets—it may not win them a coveted Oscar, but they’ll be remembered longer than who won best screenplay.
“You can be what you want to be, see what you want to see—believe in yourself. Some folks try to tell you there are things you shouldn’t do—you’re not strong enough or smart enough at all. But what seems right to them quite often might be wrong for you.”
What does this teach us about leadership? I believe that knowing yourself is one of the first steps towards being a better leader. You have to know what you stand for before you can stand for something or someone else. What Ray Charles and Elmo teach us here is that there may be people in your life and in your career that try to tell you what to think, how to act, and what to believe. By believing in yourself and understanding what you stand for, you will be able to hear what others are saying, and stay true to yourself and your values.
“Cooperation makes it happen. Cooperation: working together.”
In this video (which I remember vividly from my childhood) The Muppets on Sesame Street sing about cooperation in a neighborhood and working together to build a community garden. It doesn’t get more grassroots than that! As more people become involved in the garden other community members begin to ask questions about how they can get involved and work together to build and maintain their community garden. What does this video teach us? That through collaboration and working together we can strengthen our communities. It also leads directly into my final lesson…
“If just one person believes in you, deep enough and strong enough believes in you, hard enough and long enough, before you know it someone else would think, if he can do it, I can do it.” The song goes on to add more and more people believing in “you” until “maybe even you can believe in you, too!”
This is one of my favorite videos from Jim Henson’s memorial service because, in rare form, you can see The Muppets and their “Muppeteers,” the “invisible” people who support them. While this video highlights the others before it: the importance of believing in yourself and using the assets of your community to make a change, it also adds something incredibly important: believing in others and taking action on your beliefs. If you support someone and believe in them you should tell them and show your support by taking action. After all, leadership is about an action many can take, not a position few can hold.
What lessons did you learn from The Muppets, Sesame Street, or other cartoons, movies, or books when you were a child? Share them with me in the comments!