Ted Lasso may have been a surprise hit last year, but it also happened to come at a time when a lighthearted escape was exactly what we all needed. If you're not familiar with the show, Ted Lasso, who is played by Jason Sudeikis, is an American football coach who is hired to coach a Premier League soccer team, AFC Richmond. Needless to say, Lasso doesn't know anything about coaching football, at least the European version.
The show is hilarious, and it has now won Apple more awards than anything else the company has put on Apple TV+. Sudeikis won a Best Actor Golden Globe, and the show picked up three Critics Choice Awards last weekend, including one for Best Comedy.
Not only that, but its popularity doesn't seem to be going anywhere. According to the streaming aggregator, Realgood, Ted Lasso was the fourth-most-watched show on any streaming service last week. And, Apple has already announced that it has renewed the show through a third season.
If you haven't been watching, this is as good a time as any, and not just because it's funny (though it definitely is). At a time when much of the world seems particularly grim, Ted Lasso is the dose of optimism that many of us need. Here are five lessons that we could all use in 2020.
(Note: I'll try to avoid outright spoilers, but if you've never watched the show, you should.)
1. Kindness goes a long way.
Ted shows up on his first day of work--and every morning after--with a simple gift, a box of biscuits, for his new boss. It isn't just about currying favor with the team's owner, but about a simple act of kindness that ends up going a long way over the course of the season.
When faced with the opportunity to be kind or be right, kindness often goes further than you might expect. Almost always, the only thing it costs you to be kind is your pride. That's a small price to pay for the opportunity to influence someone in a positive way. Frankly, if you're more concerned about your pride, you probably shouldn't be leading people anyway.
2. Hope is contagious.
AFC Richmond's team is pretty bad. They don't win many games, they're about to be relegated, and they have a new coach who knows none of the rules of the sport they play. Still, Ted shows up every day with a sense of hope.
In fact, in the final episode of the first season, Ted tells the team he disagrees with the idea that "it's the hope that kills you." Instead, Ted believes it's the "lack of hope" that will kill you. Hope is the thing that keeps people moving forward, even in the midst of uncertainty. It's an embrace of the possibility that things will get better, and it is contagious.
3. Forget quickly.
One of the best quotes from Ted Lasso is "Be a goldfish." Ted tells his players that goldfish have only a 10-second memory and that the key to regaining your confidence is to forget failure quickly. If you continue to dwell on bad circumstances or failure, it's impossible to believe you can accomplish whatever great things you have planned. That's about as good a lesson as any, and not just for this year.
4. Everyone is going through something.
Never mind the pandemic. That's bad enough. The reality is that it's rough because none of the other things we're all dealing with have gone away. People are still struggling with balancing work and their families. They're still going through broken relationships or overcoming addictions.
Almost everyone in Ted Lasso is going through something. I won't spoil all of the plot lines, but rest assured, there are plenty. More important, when we recognize that everyone is going through something, it unleashes empathy--which, by the way, is a superpower.
5. Every team needs a motto.
For AFC Richmond, it's "Believe." From the beginning, Ted Lasso hung a simple sign with that word on it in the locker room. At first, it seemed ridiculous since almost no one believed the team could compete. In fact, only the guy who didn't know anything about soccer believed they had a chance.
It turns out they did, but not because of what they did on the field. It started once they started to believe in each other--when they started to live out that motto. Every team needs that. Every team needs something to rally around, and something to motivate them to do something better than anyone thought they could.