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On Iterating, Including: Did You Know That The Original Version of Ted Lasso Was a Jerk?

A team photo of the Richmond Greyhounds, the football club in Ted Lasso
My Favorite Team: Richmond Greyhounds

Friends, I've been on an odyssey for the past couple of weeks, partially in response to Loretta's blog post, What Would Julia Say?, partially because some version of "zero defects but innovate" keeps arising. This journey has included conversations, deep dives, taking ideas for a walk, drafting, sketching, and other stuff I'm not remembering at the moment. A couple of ideas that are worth mentioning have emerged, including the one that I'm writing about today: Getting comfortable with iterating is integral to well-being.

An example of iterating: Ted Lasso

The Apple TV+ show, Ted Lasso, is one of my favorites. When I like something, I often spend some time researching it because I'm curious about its origin story, who worked on it, how it all came together, etc. The especially cool thing about researching the story of Ted Lasso is that it was created by storytellers who were willing to share the story.

As I understand it, in the early-2000s, Jason Sudeikis, Brendan Hunt, and Joe Kelly were members of Boom Chicago, a comedy improv club in Amsterdam. They, along with others, took up a collection to buy a PlayStation or Xbox, and one of the most popular games to play was FIFA World Cup. They learned the rules of the game, the teams, players, etc., and began learning all about the history and culture of football in Europe. If you're familiar with the running offside joke in Ted Lasso, its origin is that Jason struggled to understand the offside rule, even after Brendan and Joe explained it again and again.

In 2014, NBC Sports secured the right to broadcast Premiere League games in America, and Jason, Brendan, and Joe got connected to the marketing firm who landed the gig to convince Americans to watch European football, aka "soccer."

The character who emerged was Ted Lasso, an American football coach who resembled Mike Ditka with a "hairdryer coaching style," meaning his delivery was intense and blew hairdos back.

Original Ted:

In case you're interested in seeing more of Original Ted Lasso, NBC released two more videos: The Return of Coach Lasso and Ted Lasso Bonus Footage.

The story goes that Jason was having dinner in 2015 with his then-partner, Olivia, and he mentioned the idea of further developing the character of Ted. Olivia encouraged him to reach out to Brendan and Joe to see if they were game to spend some time working on it with him. In the midst of this, Jason and Olivia had become parents, and the culture was more and more divisive. In the past, Jason played quite a few alpha-male characters, including Original Ted. He's been quoted as saying that he didn't want to add more divisiveness to our culture, so Ted Lasso Ted pivoted.

By 2020, we met this Ted:

By Season 2, we were learning more about Ted (and Led Tasso, who is strikingly similar to Original Ted), as well as the rest of the Richmond Greyhounds:

And by Season 3 in 2023, we collectively became more comfortable with watching Ted and the Gang evolve into these versions (or iterations) of themselves:

One of the things that makes Ted Lasso a show I return to again and again is because it centers and embraces change, even when it's hard... especially when it's hard.

And we got Ted Lasso because Jason, Brendan, and Joe weren't afraid to iterate... and also, because they knew when to ask for help by getting Bill Lawrence, a guy who knows how to make a television comedy series work well, on board as a co-creator. Not to mention that Ted Lasso was created in community and centers a community, the Richmond Greyhounds and their supporters.

Getting comfortable with iterating is integral to well-being

I've noticed this idea of iterating arising, especially over the past couple of weeks as I've thought about Loretta's insights on over-apologizing. I've had a couple of conversations with loved ones about the pressure to "innovate" in environments that pride themselves on being "zero defect." Here's the thing, though-- in my experience, innovation inherently includes not-final products, which some people may call "mistakes" or "failures." Just like I learned to crawl before I walked, when I try something new, there are earlier versions that resemble later, or final versions, but they're not "perfect" or "zero defect."

Sure, there is a time and place for "zero defect," but it's not in every place at all times. As a recovering perfectionist, I personally know the agony and feeling of stuck-ness that arises when I forget that "zero defect" isn't always possible. The practice, or concept, of iterating helps me move through the tyranny of perfectionism.

It looks like this:

I want to get [fill in the blank] out into the world, so I'm going to bring this iteration of it to a close and [push publish/ hit send / serve this dish, etc.]. Based on feedback and my willingness to iterate, I can always update and create a second iteration... and/or a third, etc.

Want some concrete examples of how I'm currently iterating?

  • This website (or app, if that's where you're reading)

  • My hairstyle (currently growing out my bangs)

  • The practices I offer

  • Parenting a young adult

  • Recipes and meals

Remembering the practice of iterating is integral to my well-being because it allows me to break free of the cultural expectations I feel to always get it right. I was sent here with holy orders to contribute in a specific way, and I'm not able to decode those orders and complete my mission without trying some stuff and learning what works and what doesn't. I also know I need a community of people who support me in my iterating while I support them in their iterating, in the midst of a larger "zero defects but innovate" culture.

So how about it? What are you ready to start iterating with me in the TK Test Kitchen?

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