Lasso-ed: Celebrating Curiosity
This isn’t a promotional narrative for the wildly popular TV series Ted Lasso.
But real quick … along those lines … if you haven’t watched Ted Lasso, you’re doing yourself a disservice. It might be the best television I’ve ever watched.
There … I said it. (And it’s the truth.)
But … again … the call to action for this blog post is not to binge watch a TV series that has 40 Emmy nominations in the last two years, including Outstanding Comedy Series.
My goal: Inspire you to be curious.
You: “Curious, huh?!?!? Well, I’m curious about this … what the hell does Ted Lasso have to do with any of this?”
The short answer: A lot. (So does Heineken beer, Jim Gaffigan and Jesus.)
Let's start with Ted Lasso, though.
It was a random, but powerful, scene from that TV series that made me fall in love with being curious. It was that four-minute clip that inspired me to make “curiosity” my word for 2022 and start writing “Be Curious” on my To Do List every day.
We get inspiration from the oddest places, don’t we? Who would have thought that a fictitious English fútbol coach with a throwback mustache and a huge heart would have a profound impact on my life?
Real quick … I’m going to be very careful throughout this post. It’s my goal to not use “Spoiler Alert” in any shape, form or fashion. I refuse to ruin the greatness of this episode, or the show in general.
With that said, this shouldn’t be too revealing … the character of Ted Lasso is funny, inspiring and genuine. He’s down-to-earth, engaging and has the amazing ability to bring out the best in everyone around him. He leads with his heart, almost to a fault.
In Episode 8 of Season I, Ted references a Walt Whitman quote while playing a game of darts.
The quote: “Be curious, not judgmental.”
Now, while doing research for this blog post, I discovered that Walt Whitman may not have actually said or written those impactful words. But in the same breath, scholars can’t attribute the phrase to anyone else. To be honest, it doesn’t matter who said it first, because it’s a powerful charge – one that everyone should live by.
After watching the Ted Lasso “Dart Scene,” I started to fixate on those four words. These were my takeaways:
Takeaway 1: The line between opinion and judgment has been completely blurred.
I recently read an explanation from a Harvard psychology candidate. She explained that opinions are beliefs, they are not based on facts, but on experiences. She said: “And we all have very different experiences. A judgment, however, is an opinion hardened by pride.”
Let me expand on her explanation.
Having an opinion about something is healthy, but being judgmental is dark and grotesque.
Judgment has a very distinct tone. It’s phrased in a very specific way, even if that judgment is just spinning around in our heads. It’s ugly and arrogant. It’s absent of all love, empathy and understanding. It’s rigid, jaded and that before-mentioned pride has it entombed.
The crazy part of this story … no one likes to be judged, but we all do it – whether we judge someone by the way they look, where they live or how they voted in the last election.
We judge people on how they raise their kids, what kind of car they drive and where they get their news. We even judge people on what they eat.
Comedian Jim Gaffigan does an incredible set on McDonald’s, which seems to be the ultimate source of judgment in our society for some reason.
Here is an excerpt from his greatness:
I reference McDonald’s a lot, because I go to McDonald’s … I love the silence that follows that statement, like I just admitted to support dog fighting or something. “It’s fun telling people you go to McDonald’s … they always give you that look, like ‘oh … I didn’t know I was better than you.’ "
Now ... can I transition from the comedic genius of Jim Gaffigan to scripture and keep this inspirational party going? Hold my Topo Chico and watch this!
Matthew 7: 1-3 is worth sharing right now: "Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?”
In other words, we all live in the metaphorical glass house and we need to put our "stones" back in our pockets.
Take us home, Jim Gaffigan:
I’m tired of people acting like they’re better than McDonald’s. You may have never set foot in a McDonald’s, but you have your own McDonald’s. So maybe instead of buying a Big Mac, you read US Weekly. Hey … that’s still McDonald’s. It’s just served up a little different. Maybe your McDonald’s is telling yourself that Starbucks Frappuccino is not a milkshake, or maybe you watch Glee. It’s all McDonald’s. McDonald’s of the soul – momentary pleasure, followed by incredible guilt and eventually leading to cancer. “Really it’s all McDonald’s out there, right? How can we all name three people that have dated Jennifer Anniston? It’s McDonald’s. And we gobble it up just like those McDonald’s fries. It’s like, ‘who’s she dating now … mum, mum, mum … I know I shouldn’t, but it’s so salty … is she pregnant yet … that’s not even my business … Scarlet Johansen got a haircut … why do I give a shit?’ “Cause it’s McDonald’s – and it feels good going down.”
Cue the laughter, because he's not wrong.
Takeaway 2: Storytelling cuts through the judgment.
I’m in love with story.
If you’ve heard me speak – or maybe you've taken the time to read one of my lengthy narratives on social media – I’m not shy about my love affair with story. Everything that I do revolves around storytelling – from my coaching and speaking to all my different podcasts.
Here is why…
Story celebrates our rarity and our beauty. Story is our differentiator from everyone else, because no two stories are the same. But here is the coolest part … while our story honors our individuality, it levels the playing field at the exact same time. It allows us to discover the tie that binds us together.
All of that makes story a powerful force to be reckoned with.
Do you have any idea how hard it is to hate someone when you know their story? It's damn near impossible. There is almost an instant level of love. When you know someone’s story, there is immediately a level of empathy and understanding.
Once you know someone’s story, judgment is dissolved. You don’t have to agree with them, but the judgment is squashed.
There is a wonderfully great video on YouTube that validates this truth. It’s an experiment produced and recorded by Heineken (Yes, the iconic beer company). It’s called “Worlds Apart,” and it puts two strangers in a room who have polar opposite views about hot-button topics, like politics, transgender and climate change.
When they walk into the room, they don’t know anything about the other person, including their opposing beliefs.
It starts with the two strangers working together on an ice breaker exercise. Then they have a question-and-answer session; this is when their stories start to come out. After that, they work together on another project, building a bar to set their Heinekens on, and then there's the climax.
The two people watch pre-recorded videos of themselves that reveal their extreme beliefs about their polarizing topic. Judgment is the primary character in those forbidding videos.
The million-dollar question that Heineken wanted to ask: Is there more that unites us than divides us?
At this point in the video, a voice comes over the loud speaker and says: “You now have a choice. You may go or you can stay and discuss your differences over a beer.”
I don’t want to ruin the powerful video, but I get emotional every time I watch it. The amazing impact of story is thrust into the spotlight and judgment is defeated.
This incredible quote from author Nicky Gumbel starts to tie a nice red ribbon around this takeaway: “If we knew what people had been through, their sorrow and suffering, we would not be so quick to judge.”
Takeaway 3: How do we stay curious?
I think this is an easy answer: Ask good questions and give a shit.
This removes all assumptions from the moment or situation, but more importantly it keeps us from filling the voids and unknowns with our own naive narratives.
So ... how do we give a shit? (Unfortunately, I feel somewhat compelled to answer that rhetorical question, too.)
Slow down and be present.
Stop thinking about how you're going to interject yourself into the narrative.
Stop trying to fix everything and everyone.
Open your heart and mind.
Don't be an asshole - kindness goes a long way.
Can you tell that I've been binge watching Ted Lasso again?
– – –
Here is a quick recap: I have referenced Ted Lasso, Jim Gaffigan, Jesus, Heineken and Nicky Gumbel.
How about one more quote? This insight is from the philosopher Rob Zombie. It's a perfect way to end this blog post – encourage you one more time to be curious and stop being judgmental.
“A lot of times the best trailers are for complete dogshit movies. It's a shame that people are beyond quick to judge things these days. Lots of great stuff gets lost that way.”
What he said!