I never suspected I could be taking life advice from a football coach, considering my knowledge of the sport ends with cheering for my national team on a rare occasion. And then Apple TV+ released its hit show, and I’ve noticed myself quoting and referring the fictional coach more than I’d like to admit.
Ted Lasso, created by Jason Sudeikis, was gifted to the world in 2020 when humanity was desperately in need of his lessons. The TV show focuses on a journey of an American coach who moves to England to train a professional football team. He’s not exactly what you would call the first choice for the role (“You could fill two internets with what I don’t know about football.”, he says openly.) and we watch him face struggles and pushbacks with unfailing optimism. It has to be contagious, right?
Ted’s whole-heartedness, emotional intelligence and authenticity are simply emanating from the screen. After watching the series, I noticed I’m asking myself a question: What would Ted do? Leaning into it, I’ve been living a ted-lassofied life, which has been a real heart-opening experience. Here are five lessons from the show that helped me be more joyous, real and connected.
Losing faith is not an option
If there’s one thing Ted teaches us again and again—it’s hope. We see it as a slogan hung in the locker room (bold and crooked believe on bright yellow paper) and we see it in Ted’s actions. I believe in hope. “I believe in belief,” he proclaims. It is amazing how hope is Ted’s default mode, regardless of the outcome. It is infectious. I noticed how in the moment of doubt, I felt like I’m being coached by Lasso in my head—“it will all work out. Now it may not work out how you think it will, or how you hope it does, but believe me. It will all work out. Exactly as it’s supposed to.” And it’s impossible not to believe him.
Vulnerability is your strength
Ted Lasso might just as well be, just after Brené Brown, the second biggest advocate for vulnerability of our times. Or at least the TV. His leadership is redefining the rules of sports coaching, one vulnerable moment after another. “I’m willing to make myself feel uncomfortable for the good of the team. Sometimes good things come from being uncomfortable,” Ted says. So if a premier league coach can be vulnerable in the locker room, why wouldn’t I be? After all, the stakes are a tiny bit lower for me. So, thanks to Ted (and Brené for that matter), I am so much more comfortable with allowing myself to be raw and unguarded.
Have courage, and lots of it
Everything about Ted is one big lesson on courage—accepting a job he has no experience in, risking his reputation, and navigating life in a foreign (and not exactly the most welcoming) country. Ted shows us an example of courage with every decision he makes, teaching us that facing our fears isn’t as scary as it seems. And guess what? He’s right. I figured that courage is scary, but not as scary as not living my life fully. So now, I’m just trying to go for the scariest thing, as far away from my comfort zone, whenever I have a chance. I have failed, sure, but it has strengthened my resilience muscle like nothing before!
Embrace your goofy, imperfect self
One of Ted’s qualities I love the most is his authenticity. We watch him being silly without any shame and embrace his quirkiness fully on the most intimidating occasions. Ted isn’t perfect. He’s not trying to be. He’s cheerfully ignoring strangers’ insults, he’s dancing through life without holding back and he’s never letting self-doubt be the killjoy. A life lived authentically, taking the pressure off the perfection and “being right” is the most liberating thing that we can do. And if there’s any single thing to instantly ted-lassofy your life, it is taking a full breath and letting go of the idea of who you are supposed to be. Doing that was the single most liberating thing—there’s nothing more rewarding than a joyous, imperfect, full expression of you.
Be a goldfish
“You know what the happiest animal on earth is? It’s a goldfish. You know why? It’s got a 10-second memory.” Says Ted in one of the coaching sessions. It made me realize how many times in my life I insist on being an elephant—I remember everything. The smallest mishaps, every misspelt word in an email, every argument seems to be forever engraved in my memory. Now, thanks to Ted, I am a goldfish. Isn’t it, overall, just the essence of a Buddhist lesson in non-attachment? The root cause of pain, Buddha says is our attachment, so by forgetting, and letting ourselves be the blissfully unaffected goldfish, we’re detaching and thus allowing ourselves to be happy. Next time I’m clinging to an idea I remind myself to be a goldfish and choose happiness.
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Photo: David Shankbone