The trials and tribulations of the television show Ted Lasso have been compulsory viewing for all coaches, not just those who coach elite sportspeople. Back-to-back Emmy Awards for Outstanding Comedy Series don’t do the scriptwriters justice though, for there are many pearls of wisdom as the ensemble of players, coaches and executives of the fictitious AFC Richmond navigate their way around one obstacle after another in their quest to win the premiership.
AFC Richmond could easily be one of the many organisations we coach. It is made up of a diverse group of people, all with specific roles and tasks to perform. And each and every one of them brings their own unique experience and perspective to the joint endeavour.
Indeed, much of Ted Lasso is about how we think about ourselves. What influence do our experiences, relationships and future ambitions have on the outcomes we obtain?
Even star players are constantly thinking, evaluating and making judgements and this creates a values perspective. Something is good or bad, better or worse, right or wrong, effective or ineffective, negative or positive. We then rely on these personal values for our life’s journey.
At a high level there are people who see the world as being beyond their control, dictating their life’s journey. And of course, events like wars and natural disasters do change lives.
Yet, there are others who see the world as something they control. They are masters of their own destiny. There are a few of this type playing for AFC Richmond, just as there are in your organisation. People who set goals and achieve them.
In both cases we are talking about mindset. It is the complex interplay between our interpretation and understanding of our experience and how we think about our future. Mindset results in feelings, emotions, thoughts, and ultimately expresses itself in behaviour.
We can consider mindset through several lenses, such as personality, our lived and vicarious experiences, and through beliefs and values.
Importantly, it is not beyond us to change our mindset. Anyone interested in their own personal development reflects on how their mindset is helping or hindering their effectiveness. They try to be aware of how it is manifest in how they show up. How they lead, interact, speak, listen, and solve problems.
We should always remember that our mindset can be shaped, developed and changed to help us be more effective in living the life we want.
However, unlike the characters in Ted Lasso, we have to write our own script. And that begins with a deep exploration of who we really are and what aspects of that we want to maintain and what we want to change.
Yet, nor are we entirely alone. Our self-reflection typically improves when it is informed by relevant others in terms of honest, well-intentioned and balanced feedback.
There are techniques we can use too: psychological assessments (personality or emotional intelligence tests) as well as an honest exploration of what really is important to us (what we truly value) for our future.
The overall purpose is as old as philosophy itself, to know ourselves.
Once we are satisfied that we do know ourselves, and we do know what we want, we then need to be clear about what is in our control and what is not. Changing your mindset does not change everything. Yet, if we remain aware, remain mindful, we can more effectively deal with those parts of reality that would otherwise lead us to have less of the life we want.
Finally, as Ted Lasso himself comes to understand, there is the self-work needed to learn and apply new thinking. Thinking that will guide our behaviour towards actions that align, support and prompt us to move towards our new goals.
This is typically a life journey – a daily task – and it will be challenging, frustrating and we will encounter setbacks. As coaches, one of our jobs is to help clients to keep going, reapply the lessons and stay with it. Even when the odds seem stacked against us, we know winning is a realistic possibility. Ask AFC Richmond.
By David Gwynne