17 Lessons We Can Learn From Leslie Knope In 2018

by Mary Kate McGrath

Parks and Recreation premiered in 2009, but the show is still relevant today. It may even be more relevant this year, and here are 17 lessons we can learn from Leslie Knope in 2018. In the current political landscape, it's easy to feel hopeless and want to step away all together. That's why there's no better time to turn to Leslie Knope, who was an optimistic, outspoken organizer. She never gave up, even in the face of the silliest, most tedious obstacles. Over the seven seasons of Parks & Recreation, Knope taught viewers a lot about getting things done in politics, the beauty of friendship, and why waffles are a food group.

It's true that the NBC sitcom was often goofy, but beneath the jokes, the show often gave some real lessons. In a time where a record number of women are running for public office, there's a lot to be learned from Leslie's commitment to her community and how throughout the series she stands by her values. There's just as much to take away from Leslie's supportive friendships, whether it's with Ann, Tom, or Ben.

From episode one, Leslie Knope was dishing out advice left and right. In these uncertain times, it's definitely worth revisiting Pawnee and trying to capture some of the Knope spirit. Here are some of Leslie's best lessons.


Enthusiasm Is Underrated

Leslie Knope never approached anything half-heartedly, whether it was her career, friendships, or waffle eating. It's easy to try to be aloof and not care, but Leslie proved that it's cool to be earnest and enthusiastic. In a time when it feels hard not to be cynical, Leslie would not want you to give up.


When In Doubt, Create A New National Holiday

Leslie Knope couldn't be a brilliant leader wihtout her pals. That's why she created Galentine's Day, a now well-established holiday. It's never a bad time to let your friends know you appreciate them.


Always Be Prepared

When the Pawnee city planners were brought on board to slash the budget, Leslie had to save the Freddie Spaghetti children's music festival. She was prepared to do anything it took to get the budget team to agree to the fest, and even came prepared with an argument folder.


Take Every Responsibility Seriously

In Pawnee, some of the tasks the Parks & Recreation department had were pretty ridiculous. However, Leslie took every single responsibility seriously, whether it was filling a hole in the ground or honoring Li'l Sebastian, and that's why she was so successful.


Believe in Yourself

In Season 4, Leslie decides to run for city council even though the opponent is Pawnee Sweetum's heir Bobby Newport. Luckily, her experience and charm are able to win the election. Even when Paul Rudd is your opponent, you can still win.


Stand Your Ground

Fans of the show love Leslie Knope, but that wasn't always the case with the people of Pawnee. Often, when Leslie would try to do the right thing, the community would disagree with her. She still wasn't afraid to speak out against injustice and in the city's best interest, and ultimately she won out.


Don't Be Afraid To Indulge

Eat your favorite comfort food. Take that walk. Buy the purse. Leslie always made time for fun, and so should you.


Don't Be Afraid To Ask For Help

Leslie was an accomplished politician on her own, but she was always sure to look for support when she needed it. The rest of the Parks & Rec department often had Leslie's back, proving that more can be accomplished through teamwork.


Pick Good Role Models

Whether it's Eleanor Roosevelt, Nancy Pelosi, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, or Michelle Obama, Leslie always had great role models. It's important to find inspirational people to look up to.


Fighting Corruption Is Always Worth It

When Tom Haverford's business interests conflict with the Parks department's code of ethics, the team teaches him the importance of separating the private and public sector. It's just one of the many times Leslie fights corruption in the Pawnee government, which was very prescient.


Dream Big

Leslie starts the series with a pretty modest role in the Parks & Recreation department, but by the end of the show she'd become a city councilwoman, accepted a leadership award in London, and met Michelle Obama.


When The Going Gets Tough, Don't Mark Brendanawicz

Mark Brendanawicz was never the best character on Parks & Rec, which is why it's totally typical that he bails during a rough patch in the city. Leslie stayed strong through the state budget cuts and other difficult times in Pawnee, and went on to have an even bigger and better role in the community.


Everyone Deserves Equal Rights (Even Penguins)

In Season 2, Leslie accidentally weds two male penguins in love at the Pawnee Zoo. The ceremony causes backlash from homophobic local organizations, and Leslie learns to take a stand. She realizes that everyone deserves equal rights, and that standing up for good people (and penguins) is always rewarding.


Waffles Are a Food Group

In 2018, you've got to find joy wherever you can. If you love waffles, don't let anyone tell you the popular breakfast isn't a food group.


Support Your Coworkers

Leslie Knope always knew that a rising tide lifts all boats. She always listened to her employees, and she helped them achieve their goals. For example, when April wanted to become a veterinarian and Tom wanted to start a business, Leslie wasn't afraid to reach out and help.


Self-Care Is Important

Leslie worked hard, but she also took time to for self-care. When you're working toward a goal, it's hard not to want to be on and working all the time. Everyone needs a break to recharge their batteries and become their best selves, even Leslie Knope.


Run For Office

Leslie has lots of ideas about what Pawnee can be, and when a position opens up in the city council she decides to run. It's a good lesson that many people tired of waiting for change and reform have learned in 2018 — run for office and try and make the change now.

It's been a few years since Parks & Recreation has been on the air, but there are still plenty of lessons to be learned from Leslie Knope. The show was often a political satire, but it was still one of the most optimistic shows on television. Leslie was the heart of the show, and she was a complex, smart, and dynamic character. In 2018, there's still plenty to learn from her time in Pawnee.