TLDR: How we show up in the world matters. Yes, acts of kindness can change the world. Believe in yourself and your dreams and that you can do it. Being true to yourself and working together for the common good matter more than whether you win or lose. We are all flawed, and that is ok. Stop trying to be perfect or expecting perfection from others.
I have a confession.
The show Ted Lasso has been my happy place.
Why do I love this series so much?
- The casting is fabulous.
- The writing is clever, and the character development makes it all come together. The writing makes you care about the characters and their evolution throughout the series.
- It gives me hope that kindness and goodness can conquer negativity, nastiness, and selfishness.
While these points make it a great show, they don’t fully explain why the show has become my “happy place.”
Connection and kindness
Rebecca hires Ted Lasso, an American college football coach who knows nothing about coaching soccer, aka football, hoping he will fail. But this seemingly always positive, perky coach from Wichita, Kansas, while wiggling his way into the hearts and minds of the team, the city, and the nation, accomplishes the impossible and takes AFC Richmond to the league finals and captures second place.
The real achievement isn’t that AFC Richmond beats West Ham United (the team Rebecca’s ex, Rupert, now owns) but the transformation of the people at AFC Richmond–the players, the management, and the fans. While reporter Trent Crimm, in his book on AFC Richmond, wants to attribute this metamorphosis to Ted by titling his book The Lasso Way, instead, Ted insists that the credit goes to Richmond, so Trent changes the title to The Richmond Way.
As with all engaging stories, the series follows the characters through trials and tribulations. We watch as various characters face their demons:
- Imposter syndrome (Keeley, a former model who becomes the club’s manager of PR and marketing, struggles to overcome the stereotype that she is nothing more than a pretty face; tames her insecurities with the help of her friend and, at times, mentor, Rebecca, the team owner.) I think we have all suffered from imposter syndrome at some point in our lives. The good thing is that if you feel imposter syndrome, you are reaching and stretching outside your comfort zone. Lean it to it and know that you will get there eventually. Nobody knows it all. Just show up and try.
- Never feeling good enough (This plays out between Jaime and his dad–the classic father living through his son’s accomplishments and a son never feeling that anything he does is ever good enough for his critical dad. So Jaime hides this hurt behind a big ego, and a winner takes all approach on the field, meaning he is always the goal scorer, not the person passing for the assist.) As artists, it is easy to feel that our work or we aren’t good enough. Let that go. You/ we are good enough. The world needs what you have to share. Don’t hide behind a big ego, either. Share resources, aka pass the ball. Being humble and vulnerable with others (especially other artists) is the key to your continued growth and transformation. You and your work will be better for it.
- The desire for revenge because of the feeling of powerlessness from the pain caused by a loved one hurting us to the core (Rebecca wanting to tank the AFC Richmond football team, which she got in the divorce, to get back at her unfaithful ex-husband to hurt him as much as he hurt her). Revenge and or jealousy robs us of our creative juices and joy. The best revenge is a life well lived with happiness and good friends. So, when you feel like you want revenge on someone who wronged you or you are plagued by the green-eyed monster, keep your eyes on your own page/ canvas/ work. Do the work and look forward. Getting revenge is never satisfying. Doing good work is.
This is why watching Ted Lasso has become my happy place.
It isn’t because good conquers evil or that Ted, the Mary Poppins of coaches, floats into AFC Richmond’s world with spoons full of sugar to make the medicine go down.
It is because it shows how over time, one act of kindness multiplies, and letting one’s guard down and being vulnerable can have a ripple effect transforming a team and a community.
For Ted, one of the first little acts of kindness he does is to make Rebecca shortbread cookies which she falls in love with despite her efforts to not like Ted. It becomes a daily ritual, the bringing of 2 shortbread cookies in a small box delivered by a smiling Ted to Rebecca in her office. One cookie at a time, Rebecca is won over by Ted’s genuine kindness and generous spirit.
I have always believed in the power of baked goods to lift spirits, curry favor, and show appreciation for the hard work of others. And seriously, if you bring me an amazing gluten-free baked good, you will always have a special place in my heart and a spot next to me on the couch while we watch Ted Lasso.
Initially, the team hates Ted and dismisses him as a hick who knows nothing about football. Ultimately, his commitment to caring about the person behind the player and prioritizing people and the team over winning at any cost wins over the team’s hearts.
With one word written on construction paper and taped to the locker room wall, Ted inspires the team bringing them together to overcome their divisions.
With that one word, believe, Ted invites us all to have faith.
Faith in our potential.
Faith that together, we can accomplish more than we can alone if we are willing to trust each other and let our guard down.
Faith that if we stay the course despite obstacles, we will reach our goals.
When I am down, I watch Ted Lasso. It makes me remember to show up each and every day with the mission of how can I make someone else’s day better and brighter. When I stop gazing at my navel and look up to see what good in the world I can do today, that is when the real shifts happen.
It reminds me that:
- I don’t have to be perfect. But I do have to apologize and ask for forgiveness when I have made a mistake or hurt someone.
- To show myself and others grace.
- Community matters. To be there and show up for others for the good times and the bad. A shout-out to all my artist friends in the Ambitious Artists Cafe mastermind (past and present). Thanks for walking along this journey together.
- Forgiveness is the key to happiness. Ted recognizes Nate’s talents and moves him from kit man to AFC Richmond assistant coach. Nate, having felt neglected and underappreciated by Ted, betrays Ted by leaking to the press that Ted had a panic attack during a recent match. Consequently, Nate leaves AFC Richmond to become head coach at Rupert’s new team, West Ham United. As he now competes against his old boss and friend, Ted, Nate becomes bitter and nasty towards Ted both on the field aka pitch, and on the news. Despite the rift in their friendship and the negative and nasty things Nate says and does, Ted doesn’t retaliate. Instead, he is self-deprecating and gracious to Nate, his former colleague and friend. Ted forgives Nate, and in the end, even the other assistant coaches, Beard and Kent, finally forgive Nate because everyone deserves a second chance. Forgiving others is more a gift to ourselves than the person we forgive. It creates lightness for ourselves and lets us all move on. It is hard to be happy when we carry the pain and resentment of not forgiving someone or ourselves.
- Be true to yourself. When Nate is invited by his new boss, Rupert (Rebecca’s ex), to go out on the town, he discovers that Rupert has invited 2 young attractive women to join them (wink, wink). Nate, who is in a relationship with the woman of his dreams, makes excuses to Rupert when he realizes what is expected (to philander with Rupert, who is married with a new baby) and heads home. Nate submits his letter of resignation the next day because he realizes that working for Rupert would mean he would be expected to violate his values. Being true to yourself as an artist can be difficult. It means understanding what your non-negotiables are. It means getting clarity on what is most important to your and your art career. It is knowing how to handle difficult situations, like when a gallerist wants you to “tone down” the message in your work because it is too controversial or to make your label copy “more upbeat” because “work about difficult or sad themes doesn’t sell as well.” That is what happened to a friend in our Ambitious Artist Cafe mastermind. She held her ground because she knew the themes around cancer and loss would resonate with viewers. She was right. And the work sold without the message being diluted or spun into a happier story.
So much of what we see in the news and on social media focuses on the salacious, the negative, clickbait, and whatever will get people’s attention.
Being kind, caring, and decent isn’t exciting or newsworthy but it is what makes the world a place we all want to live in.
It is contagious and transformative.
It does require us to be vulnerable and to take a stand.
I invite you to reflect on what matters to you. I know I am in my journaling (and while I wish I could say it is daily journaling, I acknowledge that I journal inconsistently and imperfectly but with grace for myself and faith in the process).
What do you value?
What do you want more in your life?
What are your non-negotiables?
So what is your current happy place? Leave a comment below and let me know. I can always use more happy places in my life.