Career Coaching

BELIEVE (the Ted Lasso effect)

We watched a lot more TV during COVID. Actually, I watched a lot more TV to be close to my family. My bookworm and cinephile habits aside, I don’t enjoy sitting on the couch at home staring at the “boob tube”, as my parents used to call it. So, I fold laundry while I watch TV and resolve the guilty feeling of laziness with chores.

We watched The Expanse, Lovecraft Country, Ozark, Donovan, sprinkled in with Bridgerton (surprised us both), The Great (historical fiction), and Gentleman Jack (based on a true story). Movies failed to hold my attention these last 18 months… I needed something lighter. Enter Ted Lasso, the too-hapI’m not saying that it was mindless fun, but there was something about Ted Lasso. We’d wait in anticipation for it to drop each Friday.  It made me smile, my heart warm and my soul comes back to life.  It’s interesting, most of the people who I asked about the show either lit up or had no clue. It made me wonder, why did Ted Lasso have such a strong appeal or total lack of interest from people.

I have played, coached, and refereed soccer for 43+ years. Most of my friends and all my family are familiar with my zeal for the sport. I played on the field until 2018, chasing a ball around the pitch, focused on my teammates, and keeping the ball out of my net.  You’ve heard me espouse Title IX (50th anniversary in 2022), the scene my mom made when there were no girls teams, so she said I get to play on a boys team. That led to helping my high school and college women’s teams get off the ground in the 1980s

Ted Lasso is not about soccer; nor is it about football, the sport he initially coached. This quirky comedy, which appears to be more brain candy, drives at some series points on leadership, empathy, and how imperfect human beings can recover from mistakes and losses without losing a positive outlook. I’m not trying to write a review of the show but want to dig deeper and figure out why Ted struck a chord with me.

I relate to Ted as a coach, his optimism and innocuous approach to the game are compelling. I love the subtext in this show, suggesting that a true leader can succeed in any discipline. Knowing how to build teams and inspire people, and how to collaborate with area experts to drive at goals and win the day. The most important lesson Ted teaches is that authentic leaders have the power to inspire people, by caring for and being genuine with their teams. I also love that he struggles with his own demons and that acknowledging them becomes an even better leader.  Maybe, I’d like to be admired the way he is, even when his enthusiasm drives you insane.

The women in Ted Lasso’s life add to refreshing messages of fair play and teamwork in the series. Even more so, it’s truly wonderful to see real female characters that aren’t backstabbing each other.  Rebecca is a middle-aged white woman who just inherited a soccer team from her philandering husband in the divorce. She’s out for revenge when Ted shows up. What could go wrong?!  Enter Keeley, the perky footballer girlfriend, and supermodel who finds her own power as she helps Rebecca to reclaim her own. Rebecca’s childhood friend Bex is exploring her sexuality and makes a few appearances in the series, intermittently connecting with Ted as he tries to get over his divorce. Lastly, Ted Lasso tackles the topic of mental health via Dr. Sharon Fields, the therapist who helps to heal the spirits of players and the team. Diversity abounds in the show, real life is reflected on the screen through these large-as-life characters.

I will close with the word from Ted that motivates me each day.  I made a copy of Ted’s drawing for my son’s high school football team to tape up in their locker room and see before games, BELIEVE! Things that inspire me consistently are hard to come by as normal continues to shift, but I can hold onto the concept of belief, because what else do you have? I believe we can be better, smarter, stronger, and more compassionate human beings, each day.