Here’s what I am grateful for this 2020 Thanksgiving season and here’s what I am hopeful for in 2021: TED LASSO.
Here in the States, Thanksgiving just passed which means I am expected to count my blessings. Yes, I know I have a lot to be grateful for, but truth be told, 2020 was awful and I had to dig very deep to find things for which I am grateful. So here it is: Thank you essential workers- the health care workers, the teachers, the grocers, the people who counted votes. Thank you to ALL the Americans- Republicans and Democrats- who voted. Our democracy was saved. Thank you to the people who created the vaccine. We may finally be saved. And thank you, thank you, thank you Apple TV+ for introducing us to Ted Lasso.
And here’s what I am looking forward to in 2021…more of Ted Lasso. He is exactly what the world needs. And I don’t mean in a political sense. I mean every single human needs a little dose of Ted Lasso in their life. And if every single human had a little dose of Ted Lasso in their life well then, the term “mental health” would actually mean what it’s supposed to mean- a state of mind that is healthy.
First, I want to point out what’s obvious to the eye about Ted Lasso. He’s a man. He’s white. He’s from Kansas. Where I come from, I’ve been taught to assume that those three factors mean you’re a Trump supporter. And where I come from, being a Trump supporter is not a good thing. (And if you’re reading this and you are a Trump supporter, I must admit, it took Ted Lasso to remind me that good character and political ideology are not one in the same.) I’m pretty sure Ted never voted for Trump, but like I said, he’s a man, he’s white, and he’s from Kansas, and one should never assume.
Now, I want to point out what lies below the surface about Ted Lasso. He’s sensitive, he’s witty, he’s hilarious, he’s a great dancer, and he’s very optimistic. Very. Almost to the point of being a Pollyanna. It’s what makes him so endearing. And it’s also what his more “rough around the edges” football players and his blunt British fanbase find so exasperating about him. But balance all of that with his pain. He’s undergoing a very sad divorce, he mentions losing his dad when he was 16 (I sense there’s more to come here in Season 2), he’s living far away from his son, he’s constantly bullied and scrutinized, and he suffers from panic attacks. He’s positive despite it all, but he does not escape the all too common depression and anxiety that comes along with a modern life these days. I’d call Ted an updated version of Pollyanna- a Pollyambi (ambi for ambivalent that is) if you will. And if being Pollyambi in the year 2021 is still considered wrong, well then, I don’t want to be right.
And I want to point out Ted Lasso’s wisdom. He’s a walking positive quotation board. I found myself taking notes while watching. Here’s a few good ones for the keeping:
- “Taking on a challenge is a lot like riding a horse. If you’re comfortable while doing it, then you’re probably doing it wrong.” A reminder that discomfort is part of the process. Trust the process that was 2020 and that will take you into 2021.
- “What animal has the worst memory? A goldfish. Be a goldfish.” Let’s all be goldfish and forget 2020. Seriously, throw out the “lessons learned” list. Instead, try on a beginner’s mind for 2021.
- “You know what you do with tough cookies? You dip them in milk.” Instead of meeting negativity with negativity, meet negativity with positivity. Instead of meeting what’s left of 2020 with resentment and fear, meet it with gratitude and hope. The opposite works. And if you need to fake it until you make it, by all means.
- “Be curious, not judgmental.” A quotation he credits to Walt Whitman. Imagine a world in which we use Twitter to ask questions rather than to throw shade. I think this world exists in 2021 and I think Ted Lasso can get us there.
And did I mention Ted Lasso’s character? When a journalist attempts to humiliate him, he befriends him. And when the star player of his rival team bad mouths him to the press, he talks him up back. And when he finds out he’s being used by someone who he thought was a dear friend, he turns not toward anger or revenge, but to his superpower: forgiveness.
And finally I want to point out that Ted Lasso is not a one-man show. And this is perhaps the greatest takeaway from the show. He’s surrounded by people who he inspires to be just as great as he is. My favorite scene was when he pulled together a group of grown men- who he names the “Diamond Dogs”- to give one another relationship advice. It was the group I always wanted to be part of. The group I still want to be part of. The Collectives I try to create with my company OPM Collective. Behind every great human is a team of other great humans supporting him or her in all of their greatness. That’s the world I want for 2021 and for the rest of time.
So thank you Coach Lasso. You remind us that killing them with kindness actually does work, that character matters, that hope is a potent force, and that no one- no enemy, no big bully, no dorky underdog, no evil witch, no narcissistic superstar- is undeserving of your love. Is undeserving of my love.
May 2021 be the year when being like Ted Lasso is en vogue.