When I heard Andy Griffith passed away this morning, my heart sank and my eyes nearly welled up with tears. See, Andy Griffith was a prominent fixture in my childhood. Both of my parents grew up watching The Andy Griffith Show, so of course when TV Land started re-running episodes when I was a child, we hardly ever watched anything else.
I grew up thinking Mayberry was a real little town and that it was normal for the town drunk to let himself in and out of the jail cell at his own discretion. Of course, with age comes wisdom. And although times have changed and we now live in a very fast-paced world, the solid principles of what the The Andy Griffith Show stood for stand firm and the stories that Andy, Barney, Otis, Aunt Bee, Opie and the rest of the cast shared with us will live on thanks to Hollywood specials, TV Land and YouTube, of course.
So why are Andy Griffith and his show fitting topics for this blog? Because I think we can learn a lot from their humble beginnings and strong morals.
If you head over to Wikipedia, you’ll read about how Andy grew up in a very modest home. In fact, for the first few months of his life, his parents had no place for him to sleep except for the comforts of a dresser drawer. As a kid, he realized he was what most would consider “from the wrong side of the tracks”. Although he was shy, little by little, he realized he had a knack for making people laugh.
Thanks to persistence, goals and making an effort to connect with the right people, over the course of his life, Griffith played a number of notable movie and TV roles and will always be remembered for his portrayal of Sheriff Andy Taylor – a character who handled community disputes with ease, always offered common-sense advice and navigated life’s waters with a strong moral compass.
Thanks to Joe Fann over at BarneyFife.com, I’m going to give you a quick breakdown of just a few of my favorite episodes of The Andy Griffith Show and the lessons we can learn from them when it comes to building an authentic personal brand and leaving behind a powerful legacy:
Season 2, episode 29 – “Andy on Trial” – Andy writes a speeding ticket to an out of town newspaper publisher. With Barney’s help, the publisher seeks to make Andy look like a fool, nearly costing him his job. This episode illustrates how a boastful spirit can jeopardize relationships and also shows the power and resilience of true friendships.
Season 4, episode 1 – “Opie the Birdman” – This episode is about taking responsibility for our actions. Opie is given a homemade slingshot and vows to only shoot “tin cans and stuff”. He notices something in a tree in his front yard, takes aim and shoots the slingshot. To his surprise, a bird drops to the ground and it’s clear the shot was lethal. He later learns there is a nest full of baby birds in the tree, now motherless. In this episode, we learn about how actions produce consequences and that although we can’t change the past, we can take responsibility for our actions and work towards a better future. As parents, friends, role models to our peers, we must lead the way and be a positive influence.
Season 2, episode 1 – “Opie and the Bully” – Every day Opie’s classmate, Sheldon, threatens him for milk money, promising a fight if he doesn’t comply. So each day, Opie asks Aunt Bee for extra milk money. After Barney investigates and tells Andy what’s happening, Andy decides to handle the situation in an unlikely way. This episode offers insight for dealing with trouble, asking for help, handling fear and gaining courage to overcome life’s trials.
With 249 episodes of the show, it’s clear we could go on for days, so I’m sticking with highlights for these three episodes and encourage you to visit BarneyFife.com to learn more about the lessons we can learn from Andy and the cast of The Andy Griffith Show.
Although the world lost a bright light this morning, I will never forget what I’ve learned over the years thanks to Andy and the simplicity of Mayberry. Thanks to my parents for sharing this gift with me, for offering positive role models and setting a good example for how one should live and make an impact.
In closing, I hope you’ll take some time to reflect on how this applies to you. Maybe you don’t have everything together yet. Perhaps you weren’t born to an affluent family. Maybe you’re dealing with some mistakes you’ve made. Like real-life Andy and on-screen Andy, do you see that passion, persistence and a humble servant attitude will get you where you want to go? Money doesn’t matter. Appearances don’t matter. Your upbringing doesn’t matter. (Well, I suppose it can help or hurt, but ultimately…it doesn’t matter.)
Where you want to go and how you choose to engage with your journey is what matters. Andy’s story illustrates that.
Andy has left a true legacy and will continue to impact lives for generations to come. Here’s a tweet from Ron Howard who played Opie on the show:
How does this resonate with you? What lessons have you learned from Barney, Gomer, Opie, etc.?