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What Ted Lasso Can Teach Us About Imposter Syndrome

nick_stewart profile image Nick Stewart ・3 min read

Imposter Syndrome:
In any line of work, it’s a viper in the grass that creeps its way into the mind and spirit of beginners and experts alike. Imposter syndrome doesn’t discriminate whether you have 3 months under your belt or 30 years. For those fortunate folks that might not know what imposter syndrome is, it’s that feeling that you’re not capable of doing something and any minute someone is going to figure it out and pull off your mask like you’re a Scooby-Doo villain.

For someone that knows nothing about soccer (football), has only had experience coaching a D2 American football team, will be coaching soccer at the highest professional level, and has never stepped foot in England, you might expect Ted Lasso to feel a little like he is in over his head. It would be the perfect scenario for the imposter syndrome to strike and force Coach Lasso to quit while he’s ahead.
Instead, nearly 5 minutes into the first episode we see Ted Lasso come face-to-face with a physical manifestation of imposter syndrome. After taking a selfie (ussie*) with a teenager on the plane, the teenager says, “Mate, you are a legend for doing something so stupid.” Ted Lasso just responds with a smile and says, “I’ve heard that tune before. But here I am. Still dancing.”
Ted doesn’t focus on his potential future failures, rather he focuses on his past successes. There’s a reason that he’s made it this far. He know that there have always been naysayers along the way, and he’s turned their hearts just the same.

Ego is the enemy:
Speaking of turning hearts, at another point in the first episode, former star player Roy Kent tells Ted Lasso straight to his face that he never imagined his career would end by being coached by Ronald McDonald.

Instead of taking this personally, Ted takes it in stride and tells assistant Coach Beard, “Oh, he thinks he’s mad now. Wait until we win him over.” Sometimes, while we’re down the last thing we need to be is kicked again. Self esteem comes at a high price when you take yourself too seriously. I think we can all take a page from Ted and let the negativity slide right off like water on flex-seal™.

The happiest animal on Earth:
One of the reasons we can let imposter syndrome get to us is our inability to let go of the past. Too much of our time and energy is spent on dwelling on little mistakes that we make on a day to day basis instead of focusing on the bigger picture. In marketing we called this loss aversion. People haaaaate to lose. Psychologically, one loss/mistake can have a stronger impact on our psyche than multiple wins can. It’s the reason we try to add as many things as possible to our Amazon cart at one time. It’s to aggregate our losses so it doesn’t hurt as bad. Separating our cart to 4 different items to purchase separately hurts more to us than if we just purchased all of the goods at once. If we could just learn to let the trivial losses go, we would see just how much progress we have made. Next time you make a mistake, try to shift your perspective to see how much progress you’ve made.

In the case of Ted Lasso, he gives a little pep talk to Sam Obisanya who has been down in the dumps as of recent. He pulls Sam off the field and says, “Sam, do you know what the happiest animal on the planet is?”
”Its a goldfish. It’s got a 10 second memory. Be a goldfish, Sam.

Ted also illustrates this point with his opinion on keeping track of wins and losses. He says, “For me, success is not about the wins and losses. It is about helping these young fellas be the best versions of themselves on and off the field.” At the end of the day, when learning something new, all we’re doing is trying to become better versions of ourselves. It’s not about keeping track of how many times you fail. It’s about seeing the bigger picture and making sure that you’re a little bit better than where you started. Stay positive and keep grinding.


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