There are plenty of reasons not to be optimistic--it is 2020, after all. It's, you know, been quite a year. Many people are dealing with the multiple challenges associated with figuring out how to work remotely, help their children with virtual school, and keep their family safe from a global pandemic that doesn't appear to be going away any time soon. As a business leader, it can be overwhelming. It might even make you want to give up.
Except, leadership is the ability to influence people to move in a common direction toward shared goals. Doing that requires the belief that where they are headed is better than where they are. That's almost literally the definition of optimism--the belief that the future will be better.
Enter Ted Lasso. If you haven't been watching, it's the Apple TV+ series about an American football coach hired to manage an English Premier League soccer, er, football team, based on a character from an NBC commercial. Sounds great, right? Seriously, though, if you haven't been watching, you should.
I'll get to why in just a second, but first, there's actually something pretty incredible about the show that you should know: It's really, really good. Which, of course, is good for Apple.
Why? Because millions of people who have had a free year of Apple TV+ because they bought an iPhone or other Apple device over the past year will be faced with whether to subscribe or not once that trial is up. Apple just extended the timeframe for that free period until February if you were one of the people who signed up last October when you bought an iPhone 11.
Still, Apple TV+ clearly needed a hit, which Ted Lasso very much is. It just so happens that Ted Lasso just might be what the rest of us need as well, all things considered.
You see, Ted Lasso is a very good example of why optimism is a leadership superpower. See, Ted Lasso doesn't know very much about football. Well, he knows plenty about the American version, but he's managing in the English Premier League, and he knows very little about the sport he was brought in to manage.
Lasso, played brilliantly by Jason Sudeikis, has plenty of reasons of his own to just give up. He's managing a pretty mediocre football club, hired by someone whose primary goal is to shut the whole thing down, while suffering plenty of personal turmoil in his marriage. Yet, at every opportunity, Lasso is optimistic about all of those circumstances.
I don't want to give away spoilers, but over the course of the first season, we see how that optimism is the driving factor in the collective success of the fictional team. That's true for any team, really.
Right now, in the midst of the chaos that surrounds them, the members of your team need to know that you believe that there's a better future worth fighting for. Your job is to help them believe that is true. That doesn't mean that getting there won't be challenging, or even painful, but it does mean that it's up to you to give your team the motivation to press in and get there, together.
Ultimately, any team will reflect the character and values of its leader. If you lead with optimism, your team will be optimistic. If you're scared and anxious about the future, well, you can guess where that will lead.
You are accountable for living out your values, and making your best effort to lead well. That's why your team members call you their leader. Fortunately, when you're having trouble finding the inspiration to do just that, Ted Lasso is here to help.