Mr. Rogers as Facilitator Leading his 10 Second Activity

I’ve gotten interested in learning about Mr. Rogers lately thanks to the wonderful documentary, “Won’t you be my Neighbor.” I’d also like to see the Tom Hanks “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” movie. I discovered that Mr. Rogers was a great activity designer and group facilitator!

In researching Mr. Rogers on YouTube, I noticed that during his acceptance speech for the 1997 Emmy Lifetime Achievement Award, he facilitated an activity with the audience…and ultimately the viewers at home. Give the video a watch (the activity begins around 1:33).

Here is the transcript that details the activity he facilitated.

1:33 “so many people have helped me to come to this night. Some of you are here, some are far away, some are even in heaven. All of us have special ones who have loved us into being. Would you just take along with me 10 seconds to think of the people who have helped you become who you are. Those who have cared about you and wanted what was best for you in life. 10 seconds of silence. I’ll watch the time.


Whomever you’ve been thinking about how pleased they must be to know the difference you feel they’ve made.”

He also facilitated the same activity for his 1999 TV Hall of Fame induction speech. The beginning of the segment is worth watching with early Mr. Roger’s guest and inspirational Madison, Wisconsin native Jeff Erlanger — but if you’d like to skip ahead to the introduction of the 10 second activity, you can find it at about 4:10.

As you can see it was quite similar. He asked the audience to “spend just 10 seconds to think of some of those people who have loved us and wanted what was best for us in life. Those who have encouraged us to become who you are tonight.” It’s a powerful activity to do and see who comes into your mind for you as you reflect. I think Mr. Rogers would appreciate you spending 10 seconds to do it too. Taking the time to create and design a simple and reflective activity that you facilitate can live on. In this case, the audience at the venue did it, the live tv viewers did it, I did it over 20 years later when I found it on YouTube, and perhaps you just did it now. The effect can spread exponentially!

It looks like this was a high-impact activity that Mr. Rogers had in his toolkit as a leader, person of impact, and facilitator. What are some of your activities you can facilitate with others? What can you create or “prototype” to impact others?

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