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Finding Joy, Embracing the Goldfish and the Muppets

Okay I admit it… I’m late to the Ted Lasso party and never expected a TV show about football (read soccer) would amplify authenticity, kindness, connection and belonging. And yet, it resonates deeply with my leadership coaching approach; the show is a sort of “master class” in finding joy, and the circuitous path we often take to get there.

While coaching sports and coaching executives are very different practices, they provoke some of the same existential questions – what obstacles are getting in the way of joy and purpose… and how do we find the courage to “enter the arena” (Dr. Brene’ Brown) and have a meaningful impact?

Even the most resilient and accomplished humans beat themselves up and ask, “am I good enough, smart enough, deserving enough?” Let’s face it, we all go there. And yet, our fears of failure or not doing it right, can create obstacles, enormous interference, and get in the way of joy.

Centuries of great thinkers have written about perfection as the enemy of good. I would add that perfection is the enemy of joy.

Brett Goldstein, a writer and actor on Ted Lasso, shares this,

The secret of The Muppets is they’re not very good at what they do. Kermit’s not a great host, Fozzie’s not a good comedian, Miss Piggy’s not a great singer…Like, none of them are actually good at it,

But they f…..g love it. And they’re like a family, and they like putting on the show. And they have joy.

And because of the joy, It doesn’t matter that they’re not good at it. And that’s like what we should all be. Muppets.

(Thanks @Ann DeMarle for sharing this quote.)

When we are in a place of joy, doing what we love, we ARE good enough and we are free.

Finding and sustaining joy can be difficult and takes courage, practice and resilience. Resiliency is something we can all access and it requires failure followed by lots of self-compassion. While it can be scary and painful, failure leads to more awareness, learning and growth.

Ted Lasso asked one of his players, “Do you know the happiest animal on earth? The goldfish, because it has a ten second memory. Go be a goldfish.” This is a helpful reminder to stay in a place of growth, let go when you fail, and try again. It reminds me of the “beginner’s mindset.” Tom Vanderbilt’s book Beginners: The Joy and Transformative Power of Lifelong Learning (Atlantic Books/Knopf) is worth checking out.

What’s getting in your way or holding you back? How can you practice more self-compassion, especially when you fail? What would it look like if you let go of the fear of failure? Take a minute and write down some thoughts. Share them with a friend, mentor, or coach. Embrace your inner goldfish, (or Muppet), sing off key, and go for the joy! #everydayjoy


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