Ted Lasso: The importance of optimism

Entertainment took to the forefront during the pandemic, as people searched for pockets of joy and optimism to keep their spirits afloat. Apple TV+’s fictitious American college football turned English Premier League coach, Ted Lasso, emerged as a prominent, sunny figure who united us amidst the divisive climate our country has been facing.

Ted Lasso has not only won over viewers’ hearts but taught us about leadership: the importance of unity and optimism, prioritizing others over selfish gain, and embracing well-being and mental health. When we think about some of the most powerful communicators, those who can tap into the ethos of their audience are capable of igniting excitement and change. This is what Ted Lasso is able to accomplish.

More than a comedic football coach, Ted Lasso is a character who deals with real human struggles — from dealing with a separation from a spouse to encountering skeptics who want to see him fail, to facing the responsibility of being a new leader of a failing team, to being under the intense scrutiny of a critical media landscape. While these pressures tempt Ted and others to turn towards negativity and self-interest, Coach Lasso practices great leadership by putting smiles on people’s faces, making everyone from the players to the support staff feel welcome on his team, and instilling his one-word philosophy, “Believe.”

Ted Lasso also embraces and shines a light on the importance of mental health and wellbeing — two areas that have been exacerbated by the pandemic. After initial reluctance, he embraces going to therapy and is able to find a safe space to process his feelings as a coach and leader. He shows us that it’s OK to seek help when you need it, even when you are the leader of a team.

What Ted Lasso reminds all of us is, “Every person’s life is a comedy, a drama, and a tragedy.” From this perspective, he meets people where they are and not where they need to be. Imagine an environment where this level of acceptance, openness, and empathy can breed positive cultures around us.

Or, as Coach Lasso exhorts his team, “Believe.” In a time where we need more kindness, goodness, listening and accepting of others, Ted Lasso matters.