In normal times, it’s meant to encourage brands to add meaning to the lives of their customers by creating positive experiences. And while it’s a hell of a position and one I truly believe in, its spirit is taking on new meaning as we collectively battle something completely unknown. As I told my kids, this is a time we will remember for the rest of our lives.
So, as I go about my life working from home, managing four boys with closed schools and wearing a mask to the grocery store, I’m embracing our Good Wins ethos by bringing out the big guns – yep, Mister Rogers.
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers—so many caring people in this world.” – Fred Rogers
If a disaster like COVID-19 can give us anything, it is the gift of fresh eyes. Fresh eyes are revealing new kinds of Mr. Rogers’ helpers. Healthcare workers, retail staff, and manufacturers are today’s heroes. They are fighting the fight to keep the rest of us healthy, fed, and flexing our output to take on this new enemy. Their heroism reveals itself in small ways like seeing re-stocked shelves or a tired smile on the face in the window at the drive-up pharmacy. Our gratefulness doesn’t require big gestures either. In Florida, senior citizens are showing appreciation to hospital workers by flickering their lights every day at 9pm.
Suddenly we realize that our students’ mental health is more important than their test scores. Standardized tests, some of the same ones at the heart of recent scandals, are being canceled and replaced by a commitment to social and emotional health. For the first time in many of our children’s academic lives, success won’t be measured by a number. The anxiety that accompanies tests like these, in kids as young as elementary school, will be displaced. Their energy can go into navigating this strange time. We are showing them they are more than a test score.
Listening is happening in new ways too. Small or forgotten stories that might not have otherwise been told in this modern age are being shared daily. Memories of hard times and real-life experiences from years past that create both context and peace for young ones whose worlds are small. There is comfort in knowing this kind of disruption has happened before and the adults are still here. And it’s happening in bigger and brighter ways too. In poetry. In photographs. In songs. Among neighbors like these who gather at a distance to sing and play music together.
The value of slowing down is being renewed. Heart rates are calming. Because that’s what they do when you stay home and do a puzzle. When you take a child and a dog for a walk around the block. When you laugh at cat videos and lie on the couch reading tweets from Tim at the National Cowboy Museum. No really, it’s worth it. With a quiet time we’re not often gifted in normal life, we can revisit what fills us up, what sustains us and where we want to spend our precious time when the big machine of normalcy cranks up once again.
So, in this time of disaster let’s choose fresh eyes. Because we are stronger than this thing that’s happening to us. We are a collection of helpers who are proving it out in big and small ways. And yes, good will win.