2022: the Lasso Way (week 2) *Steal this content*

Susan Comfort
11 min readJan 14, 2022


That’s right, steal or borrow this content for your Slack channel, your newsletter, your wellness committee team discussion. Our tools are under Creative Commons, so as long as you mention us, we’d love for you to share! This is the companion piece to “2022: the Lasso Way” (Week 1). There are 14 days of content, total, and utter justification for binging Ted Lasso.

DAY #8 Positivity vs. Toxic Positivity

Coaches are usually optimists (like Ty, and like my dad!); Ted is in another league.

“I have a tricky time hearing folks that don’t believe in themselves, so Imma ask you real quick again…do you think this idea will work?” — Ted, to Nate

Then there’s Ted’s philosophy of “Rom-Communism,believing that despite challenges, everything will work out. If it’s not happy, it’s not the end!

He insists that others not be too negative:

“You beating yourself up is like Woody Allen playing the clarinet: I don’t wanna hear it. Knock if off. Go easy on yourself. Okay?” — Ted, to Roy

Question is, when does all this sunniness veer into the realm of “toxic” positivity?

My co-founder Ty has taught me so much about Emotional Intelligence, which includes the art of re-framing challenges. Like, when we acknowledge emotion or pain, yet also look for a silver lining or an opportunity for growth (Sidenote: this is why we revised our Stressor & Resilience Scorecard).

If we deny pain or ignore emotions, they worsen: “What you resist, persists.”

Conversely, acknowledging helps: “When we can name it, we can tame it.”

Need some help with this? Our bodies know what’s up!

Our bodies whisper and sometimes shout messages (if only we would only listen)…

Cue Ted’s Season 2 panic attacks. STILL, Ted resists confronting his pain.

Ted finally agrees to see Doc/Sharon, and we witness a different coach.

An avoider! Ted walks out of therapy more than once, even after saying “I don’t quit things.” He finally admits, “Yeah, I don’t want to do this.”

Eventually he is more vulnerable (stay tuned for Day 11!). He starts to heal.

He conveys this new balance to the team, acknowledging emotion yet moving forward:

“Let’s be sad now. Let’s be sad together. And then we can be a gosh-darn goldfish.”

So, this is a nuanced one. Yes, work on your Positivity, but don’t suppress negative emotions or deny your pain. We recommend checking out the compelling science behind developing a gratitude practice, being mindfully aware of the present moment, and observing spiritual traditions.

Then, “Just do it.”

DAY 8 PROMPT: How can you (positively) re-frame a challenge in your life right now?


“F*ck the haters.”

Rebecca says this twice, first at the curse breaking, then in her text to Ted after The Article drops. In the fire ceremony, not only is each team member literally getting rid of something important to them (Did you just say ‘Blankie’?”), they are vulnerable in telling their story (more on Day 11). This brings them together, and breaks the curse.

These shared stories (Day 6: Be Social) build empathy and trust. Good leaders will create opportunities to have their team tell personal stories to each other.

So, leaders, can you devote one hour for greater team trust?

Brené Brown says, Stories are data with a soul.

In my first two jobs, we did a powerful exercise called “three minute stories” where we shared something significant in our lives. These stories brought us together as a group like nothing else could. Some schools/organizations are too big to do this with everyone listening, but with smaller teams (20 or fewer), this can be done within a one-hour timeframe. Or, use the StoryCorps app to record storytelling conversations amongst your co-workers.

Sam: “We can’t change the past.

Ted: No Sam, no we cannot, but we can choose to honor it. Those young men, they made the ultimate sacrifice. So i think it’s only fair that we sacrifice something of our own. I’m gonna ask each and every one of you to go home tonight, find something, an item, something personal, something that you truly value, and I want you to bring it tonight to the clubhouse at midnight.

Roy: We’re all gonna f*ckin do it!”

DAY 9 PROMPT: How can you tell more personal stories with your team?

B’lieve, hon

Day 10: Create visuals


Reasons to create solid visuals that convey your message:

  • Most people (65%) are “visual learners”
  • If your visuals are printed? YES! Non-digital stands out.
  • “Conversation pieces” create conversation, which builds relationships
  • Conveys non-verbal (and/or passive aggressive) communication.
  • Isn’t life just one giant Locker Room? We’re always in transition and in need of inspiration.

And big ups to whomever painted four words by Walt Whitman on that Kansas City wall…

“You know Rupert, guys have underestimated me my entire life. And for years I never understood why — it used to really bother me — but then one day I was driving my little boy to school and I saw this quote by Walt Whitman, it was painted on the wall there, it said, ‘Be curious, not judgmental.’ I liked that.”

Day 10 PROMPT: What reminders do you need to make visual?

Here is our favorite, we just can’t shut up about it (downloadable for free in Engl or Spanish at www.nonprofitwellness.org/resources):

Day 11: Vulnerability makes for good relationships

Doc Sharon: I hate tea. It tastes like a wet paper bag.

Ted: I’ll tell you anything.

Yes, y’all, this tea chat is a turning point in the relationship, marked by their shared, vociferous dislike of the national beverage. Ted empathizes so strongly, it breaks down the last barrier between them.

As Brené’s social science research teaches us:

Vulnerability is the flip side of courage. Vulnerability inspires empathy.

And empathy leads to trust.

In Ted Lasso, inauthentic blowhards get no empathy, from the writers or the audience, and quickly get put in their place (Jamie’s dad, Rupert) OR are inspired to change (Jamie).

In Ted Lasso, the courage shown by vulnerability reigns.

Especially great for a dude-show.

Over the course of the series, most of the characters get increasingly vulnerable with each other, as they become closer:

  • The “Diamond Dogs” spring up for Dude Relationship Advice.
  • Keeley advises Rebecca on red carpets, media flare-ups, and *key* Dating.
  • Rebecca gradually realizes that loving is about becoming more vulnerable.
  • Keeley explores full honesty with Roy, also diving into her professional opportunity.
  • Ted’s admission to the coaches tips a domino effect (mushroom tea, missed deadline).
  • Ted finally tells Doc about his dad’s death, and Rebecca shares her dad’s story.
  • The scarlet A: breaking the taboo of talking about mental health in professional sports makes Ted the MOST vulnerable with the team and public. Which, conversely, earns him the MOST respect and trust.

Ted, to the team:

“Point is,… you should have found out about it from me first. But I chose not to tell y’all and that was dumb. You know fellas…We make a lot of choices in our lives. Every single day. … Me choosing not to be forthright with y’all — that was a bad choice. I can’t be wasting time wishing for a do-over on all that. That ain’t how choices work. No sir. … Every choice is a chance fellas. And I didn’t give myself the chance to build further trust with y’all. To quote the great UCLA college basketball coach John Obi-Wan Gandolf, It is our choices, gentlemen, that show who we truly are, far more than our abilities. Now I hope y’all can forgive me what I’ve done. Cuz I sure as heck wouldn’t want any of y’all to hold anything back from me.”

Doc Sharon reminds Ted (a Biblically-inspired, Steinem-credited quote):

“The truth shall set you free, but first it will piss you off.”

Rebecca (to her soon-to-be-dumped date):

“It does make you realize how scary it is, allowing yourself to be intimate again. You really do have to be brave, and that’s it right there, isn’t it. I need to be brave enough to let someone wonderful love me, without fear of being hurt, without fear of being safe.”

Ted (to the public via the media):

“I want to share with y’all the truth about my recent struggles with anxiety and, well, my overall concern about the way we discuss and deal with mental health in athletics.”

Right on time for Simone Biles, the Williams sisters, and many others pushing the conversation forward about mental health in sports. Side note: Jason Sudeikis was a point guard, playing high school basketball in Kansas. There, he learned from many coaches (and perfected 90s dances in the locker room).

Day 11 PROMPT: How can you be more vulnerable with a co-worker?

Day 12: Breathe

Breathing is the language of the nervous system.

Being present with our breath, or at least learning to make it “work for us,” is a lifetime’s worth of practice.

The song, “Breathe” (by Lin-Manuel Miranda, performed by Mandy Gonzalez In The Heights OBCR) is a worthy contemplation:

“Just breathe. Sigue andando el camino por toda su vida. Respira.”

Even coaches need to be coached, as we are reminded with the most important tactical advice, given to the main character Coach Lasso. This whole series (my two weeks of Lessons, as well as seasons 1&2 of Ted Lasso) buries the lede. You’d think the mental health take-away is to get an ace therapist and fantastic friends. But the (cheaper and more effective) mental health messages really are: Be present (day 10) and Breathe (day 12).

Why does breathing work, especially in a time of crisis? Two reasons:

1) The Breath returns us to the most basic of functions in the most present of moments. Our breath is ALWAYS with us; the attention is our choice.

→ Focusing on the moment, five senses worth of awareness, is key to arresting our fight-or-flight brain spiral during periods of anxiety.

2) deeper breathing, using neuro-scientific language, says to the nervous system Hey, We’re Cool.

→ Returning to the “Safe and social” or “Rest and digest” mode means stress hormones (cortisol and adrenaline) won’t wreak havoc with our biochemistry.

Purposely lengthening the exhalation (as with 4–7–8) will quickly initiate this relaxation mode.

“Ted. It’s okay. Try to breathe … It’s okay. Just breathe.” Rebecca, during Ted’s first panic attack

Ted, You’re okay, Ted, You’re okay. Just focus on your 4–7–8- breathing … You can, come on. Just breathe.” — Doc Sharon, on the phone, during the funeral

Day 12 PROMPT: In what circumstances might it be helpful to practice the relaxing 4–7–8 breath (4 deep inhale, 7 hold, 8 exhale)?

Day #13 Play with people & pets

Those of you who are Dog People need no reminders of the therapeutic value of puppies (even when they sh!t all over your office carpet, as with Higgins).

Again, TED LASSO IS HERE TO HIT EVERY EMPATHY BONE IN YOUR BODY. And we are here to point out how it helps your immunity and your team-building efforts.

So when Issac, the new Team Captain, needs to stop overthinking, stop lashing out at teammates, and generally “find his way,” Ted asks Roy to step in. Roy makes Isaac (& Ted) meet him at a nondescript field and says:

“This, this is where I lived. Where I learned football. Every f*cking day. And during my career, when I was going through a bad patch, I’d come back here and play.

I brought you here to remind you that football is a f*cking game and you used to play as a f*cking kid because it was fun. Even when you were getting your f*cking legs broken or your f*cking feelings hurt… So f*ck your feelings. F*ck your overthinking. F*ck all that bullsh!t. Go back out there and have some f*cking fun.”

Why is play important? Dr. Stuart Brown and my former boss Jill Vialet have spoken and written widely on this topic.

Suffice to say: play is our biological and neurological imperative. Play is the state of spontaneous, active, joyful creation that we know innately as children and slowly lose as adults. When I do my Take Five talk, the section on Play includes the question “what did you do as a child, for fun, where you lost track of time, and had joyful fun?”

For Roy Kent, the answer is football.

This is why, when Roy visits the school, he taps into our kid-like senses of adventure and joyful destiny when he spontaneously announces:

“Why don’t we get out of this stuffy auditorium, go out on the pitch and have a proper F*ck about”

The students sit for a moment of stunned, reverent silence at the enormity of this statement, then they explode with screams of joy and run outside.

I have witnessed this joyful, playful moment so many times with my two kids, with Playworks, and now as a kids yoga teacher. If only adults could tap into it more!

Day 13 PROMPT: When are you in the moment of spontaneous play?

p.s. Maybe you are here because of the thirst trap pic we put on Instagram haha

Day 14: Be present

We here at Nonprofit Wellness believe mindfulness (non-judgmental awareness of the present moment) is one of the most important skills of being alive.

The wide world of sports offers endless practice with mindfulness.

Coach Lasso teaches it, too:

“You know what the happiest animal on Earth is? It’s a goldfish. Y’know why? (No) It’s got a 10-second memory. Be a goldfish, Sam.”

“Let’s be sad now. Let’s be sad together. And then we can be a gosh-darn goldfish. Onward. Forward.”

Two weeks, and I haven’t quoted Ani Difranco yet? That ends now:

“They say goldfish have no memory, I guess their lives are much like mine

And the little plastic castle, Is a surprise every time

And it’s hard to say if they’re happy, But they don’t seem much to mind.”

- Ani Difranco, Little Plastic Castle

If there’s a “trick” to mindfulness, it’s this: anchor your experience in your sense organs.

Maybe it’s the 5–4–3–2–1 exercise, maybe it’s focusing on the Breath.

In the Take Five and Mindfulness skill-shops we also discuss mindful music, walking, cooking and other mindfulness techniques that train our brains and arrest the rumination/worrying cycles.

Day 14 PROMPT: What sense organ do you use as an “anchor” to remain present?

It’s been fun, these last two weeks. Please feel free to take this content for your newsletters and such, don’t let it go to waste. Most of our tools are freely downloadable; our trainings are affordable, and regardless of $$ we hope you’ll consider our main message of Team-Care in these perilous times.

Stay tuned on our blog for Ted Lasso Lagniappe— we’ll be coming out with analysis of John Wooden’s pyramid of success, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, and Lencioni’s team function chart. Fun with triangles and organizational development!



Susan Comfort

Co-founder of NonprofitWellness.org, manager of the DC/Balto/Pitt Alvéole teams, Tinkergarten leader, queer parent, bee promoter.