What a seemingly silly TV show teaches us about the costs of lacking curiosity
We’re somewhat obsessed here at Groundswell Health with the Apple+ series, Ted Lasso. With an absolutely fabulous ensemble cast featuring actors from this side of the Atlantic as well as across the pond, the comedy-drama tells the story of an American college football coach who takes on a down-on-its-luck Premiere League English soccer/football team. It’s sort of Friday Night Lights meets The Damned United.
On the surface, it looks like a local-yokel, fish-out-of-water story of the misunderstandings and pratfalls that occur when a kid from Kansas interacts with foreigners. More deeply though, it’s a masterclass on storytelling about friendship and vulnerability that weaves philosophy, literature, and poetry together with sports cliché, the occasional Fletch reference, and brilliantly delivered Oasis insult. (And if you don’t fall in love with Ted, you might want to check for a heartbeat).
Episodically, the series starts off awkwardly, and the audience is left believing—justly perhaps along with the locals — that our hero is truly unfit. Goofy. Blindly optimistic. Naïve. Therein lies the conceit as the audience too is drawn into the story as doubters. But for those who have become fans of the show, they likely noticed a tiny bit of something about Ted Lasso that drew them in, and they hang on to figure out the unfolding mystery. Others, though, will remain doubters having lacked a certain attribute. They’ll move on.
Spoiler alert: Toward the end of season 1, when our favorite underdog looks to be nearly beaten, he takes on the show’s villain in a game of darts – that classic British pub game. While everyone assumes this Kansas boy right off the turnip truck who doesn’t understand the offside rule can’t possibly compete with an Englishman who has his own set of hand-forged darts, Lasso steps up to deliver the final three throws.
He needs two triple 20s and a bullseye.
With ice water in his veins, he seals the deal. And he does so while telling the stunned crowd how people underestimated him his whole life but that he learned it has more to do with their lack of curiosity, rather than his own inadequacies.
Ted delivers the coup de grace with a chaser of bullseye: “if they were curious, they would’ve asked questions….questions like, ‘have you played a lot of darts, Ted?’”
Indeed, he had played a lot of darts. Turns out, he played by his dad’s side, every Sunday at the local sports bar, from the age of 10 to 16 when he passed away.
The lesson, Ted tell us, “be curious, not judgmental.”
Curiosity is one of Groundswell Health’s core values. It’s who we are as individuals. Our co-founders are two people who couldn’t be more different, yet, we have developed professionally by being curious about the other’s viewpoints, histories, experiences, and thoughts. It’s also who we are as a health care communications agency. We are curious about our clients, their goals, and their target audiences. This approach doesn’t work for everyone. We’re not everyone’s cup of tea (or cuppa, depending on which side of the ocean you’re reading this from). But for clients who want to influence human behavior and thought, starting with curiosity works every time.