Fred Rogers, the First Coach
Updated: Dec 18, 2019
The New York Times Magazine recently published an article about Fred Rogers that captivated me, that inspired me, and that reminded me of why I coach. A little note about the article. It is also worth every minute of time you spend reading it. However, it is LONG. So, if you don’t make it all the way through, that is OK. There are powerful nuggets from the very beginning.
I’m fascinated by Mister Rogers. Growing up, he was my neighbor. He was my friend. In fact, I watched Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood when I stayed home from school, sick, well into high school. Such was the sense of comfort and home that he created. In coaching speak, we call that Coaching Presence. And it is one of the benchmarks of powerful coaching. Presence.
“I think that the need to create has to do with a gap,” he said. “A gap between what is and what might be. Or what you’d like to be. I think that the need to create is the need to bridge that gap. And I do believe it’s a universal need.”
When your Coach is with you in the moment, holding the space for you to be completely authentic and true, deeply curious about your vision and your hopes, fully open to exploring the internal gremlins that get in your way, and is committed to walking with you through the steps and stages to achieve your goals – THAT is Coaching Presence. It is a singular attention to you and to what is vital for you to explore and thrive.
So, why do people get coached and what exactly does a Coach do for you when they are so gosh-darn present? My friend Fred said it best, “I think that the need to create has to do with a gap,” he said. “A gap between what is and what might be. Or what you’d like to be. I think that the need to create is the need to bridge that gap. And I do believe it’s a universal need.” A coach is present with you and holds the space for you to bravely and curiously explore that gap. By asking you powerful questions that encourage deep learning about yourself as well as clarification about what is and what could be – a Coach is your co-creator in discovery and in action that moves you toward achieving your goals - building a bridge across that gap.
I wouldn't go so far as to say that I am like Fred Rogers. But, I do own several epic cardigans.
A heartfelt Thank You to Chariti Gent for sharing this article with my entire cohort of Coaches. May we all have a little bit of Fred in our practices and in our hearts.