Lessons from Sesame Street – Part 1

We found a great article from nextavenue.org and we’d like to share our take on it with you. This is Part 1 of a 5-part blog series.

You’d be hard pressed to find someone who isn’t familiar with Sesame Street. The beloved children’s television show made its television debut on November 10, 1969, and has been a staple in American homes ever since. It is currently broadcast in over 120 countries around the world, and 20 independent versions have been produced internationally. Sesame Street has won eight Grammys and over 100 Emmys in its history – more than any other children’s show.

The brilliance of Sesame Street is that it is rooted in developmental psychology, early childhood education and cultural diversity, and has evolved over the decades to stay relevant to its audience. Its clever use of music, humor, celebrity appearances and more has enabled Sesame Street to remain America’s longest running children’s TV show.

Perhaps you grew up watching Sesame Street every day. You learned your ABCs, your numbers, sight words, and character building concepts like sharing, cooperation, effort, acceptance, and forgiveness.

Well, Next Avenue thought we needed to go back to our roots and get some refreshers, and we couldn’t agree more. After all, “All we really need to know we learned in kindergarten” …and on Sesame Street.

Lessons from Sesame Street – Part 1: Put Down the Duckie

Ernie and his rubber duckie arguably have one of the strongest friendships of all time. (We might be exaggerating just a bit.) Ernie sings odes to his rubber duckie and is rarely seen without it. In this video, Ernie really wants to learn to play the saxophone, but every time he tries, he squeaks his rubber duckie instead.

Our wise friend (and blues extraordinaire) Hoots tells Ernie, “You’ll never find the skill you seek until you pay your dues… You gotta put down the duckie if you want to play the saxophone.” Ernie is reluctant because he fears he will have to get rid of his duckie forever. Once he realizes he can pick the duckie back up after he’s done playing, he is able to put down the duckie and pick up the sax and play.

What’s the lesson for us grownups?

Ernie wants to try something new, but he has an impediment – his duckie, whom he loves. The duckie is great and all, but it is interfering with his ability to play the sax. It is clearly holding him back. Ernie has to give himself permission to put down the duckie without guilt before he can play the sax. Once he does, he plays beautifully, uninhibited. And when he’s done, he can go back to holding his duckie. And we surmise, he’s a happier Ernie, which will better his relationship with his beloved duckie.

In our busy, fast-paced lives, many of us don’t take the time to try new things or do things for ourselves. Or if we do, we have a hard time letting go of our other obligations. Perhaps we feel guilty, lack focus, or lack the proper prioritization or time management skills.

We tend to use a lot of conditional if/then statements to set tentative plans for things…except many times, the ‘then’ never comes.

“If I could just ________, then I’d be able to ___________.”

“First I need to _____________, then I can ______________.”

“If only _________________ would happen, then I could _________________.”

“I’ll wait until __________________, then I’ll do it.”

Any of these sound familiar?

What’s the rubber duckie in your life? What’s holding you back from trying something new – or doing something you should have done a long time ago?

Give yourself permission to put down whatever is holding you back. Let go of the guilt of doing something for yourself, take something unnecessary off your plate, eliminate something unhealthy from your life, prioritize, manage your time better, and go for it. Whatever it is, just remember:

You gotta put down the duckie if you want to play the saxophone!

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