[TV still from Parks and Recreation, NBC]
Leslie Knope is a cultural icon. She’s kind, assertive, and feels like your best friend. She’s so incredible that we often need to remind ourselves that she’s a fictional character. She’s too wonderful to be confined to a half-hour of television! We’re celebrating Amy Poehler’s birthday and are wishing Leslie Knope a very happy birthday right along with her by looking back at some of our favorite lessons from Parks and Recreation. And while she’s no longer dispensing her wisdom on a weekly basis, Leslie did give us some incredibly evergreen words to live by.
Work is Less Important than Friends and Waffles
Leslie Knope loves her job. She’s passionate about parks and will defend the citizens of Pawnee with everything she’s got. But she’s made one thing clear over the course of Parks and Rec’s seven seasons: good food and good friends are always more important than work. So, leave the office early one day this week and grab happy hour with your friends. Avoid the sad desk lunch and check out the local deli instead. Or go full Leslie Knope and eat waffles at the diner near your work. Because it’s fantastic to love your job. Just don’t let it get in the way of what’s really important.
Be Your Own Cheerleader
Leslie Knope has always shown us that it’s important to be our own number one fans. She’s always reminding herself that she’s a bona fide badass – whether she’s leaving encouraging messages on her voicemail or putting her own photo up on her mantle of inspiring women. (“I am big enough to admit that I am often inspired by myself,” she says.) Hide yourself encouraging notes on your computer, in your desk drawer, and in the pocket of your favorite jeans. When life just keeps hitting you with rejection, turn to what you know is true: that you’re worth infinite possibilities and infinite opportunities. Hang in there, self.
Teamwork Makes the Dream Work
When Leslie Knope discovered that there were no women working on Sanitation’s garbage trucks, she and April Ludgate set out to prove that women could indeed to the job. But the real dream team magic happened when Leslie asked the women of the Pawnee Soup Kitchen if they wanted to take a working order but was impossible to move fridge from their garbage route. It’s that more the merrier attitude that helped Leslie outsmart the Sanitation bullies and secure jobs for Pawnee’s first ever garbage women. So, next time you’re in a bind and you don’t know how you’re going to get yourself out, ask for help. You never know who’s out there willing to lend a helping hand.
Invest in the People You Believe In
Legend has it that on April Ludgate’s first day as an intern in the Parks and Recreation department, Leslie Knope had a placard made that said “April Ludgate, Deputy Director” because she knew April was destined for greatness. It’s that mentorship that skyrocketed April’s career all the way to Washington, DC. If you find someone you believe in, root for them with all your might. Offer them resources and networking opportunities. Recognize that when they shine, you shine. The world needs more incredible people. There’s no limit on that.
Always Make Time for Dancing
Leslie Knope has never claimed to be a good dancer, but she always uses a wacky move or two in celebration. Be the Leslie Knope of your own life and dance like no one’s watching. When you have a particularly great moment at work, do a little dance in the stairwell or a mini move at your cubicle. When you and your partner have a particularly great conversation, mark the occasion with a dance in your living room. Whether accompanied by your own personal theme song or to the tune of silent disco, an impromptu dance move is always the answer.