“Be Curious, Not Judgmental,” A Lesson from Ted Lasso
I’m going to be completely honest with you right now – I haven’t watched season 3 of Ted Lasso yet. Shocking, I know! I’ve loved Ted Lasso since it was just a string of commercials for the English Premier League on NBC Sports almost 10 years ago. I was “concerned” when they said they were turning this beloved character into a TV show, but I was blown away by S1& S2. So, it really is a shocker I haven’t started S3 yet. And let me tell you, trying to steer clear of spoilers all over social media is, let’s just say, “difficult”.
There are two reasons why I haven’t started S3: 1. I have to renew my Apple TV+ subscription and I’m waiting until the Fall/Winter to do that so I can binge ALL. THEIR. SHOWS. I mean I keep a running list on my phone of shows I need to watch. So, I need time – and that isn’t happening this summer. And 2. Ted Lasso is so good. I’m reluctant to start watching the LAST season, knowing that once I start watching it, it will all too soon come to an end and I’m not emotionally ready for that!
I could go on and on about the writing, the depth of the characters, and my pure enjoyment of the ‘feel good’ show. In just the first two seasons, Ted Lasso as the head coach of AFC Richmond has reminded or taught me of many lessons that are applicable not only in my personal life but in my professional life in the advertising world as well. One such lesson is “Be Curious, Not Judgmental” from the Dart scene in S1.
In the dart scene, Ted Lasso, portrayed as the ultimate country bumpkin, is challenged by Rupert to a game of darts for big stakes! Winning comes down to the last throw, when Ted says:
“Guys 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 and it was painted on the wall there. It said: ‘Be curious, not judgmental.’ And I liked that (Ted throws a dart).
So, I get back in my car and I’m driving to work, and all of a sudden it hits me. All of them fellas that used to belittle me; not a single one of them were curious. They thought they had everything all figured out. So, they judged everything and everyone. And I realized that they’re underestimating me…who I was had nothing to do with it. Cause if they were curious, they could’ve asked questions. You know? Questions like: ‘Have you played a lot of darts, Ted’ (Ted throws another dart.)
To which I would’ve answered: ‘Yes, sir. Every Sunday afternoon at a sports bar with my father, from age ten til I was 16 when he passed away.’ Barbecue sauce. (Ted throws a double bullseye to win the game)”
Ted Lasso, “The Diamond Dogs”
This little two-minute scene left a lasting impression. On the surface, it reminds us of the old proverb to not judge a book by its cover, but it goes deeper than that. Not only do you have to be open-minded, but to truly be curious you need to ask ‘good’ questions. Before Ted’s monologue, Rupert asked Ted if he likes darts, Ted responded “they’re okay”. See Rupert wasn’t really interested in what Ted had to say, he already sized him up and judged him as a bumbling idiot with no skill. If Rupert wasn’t so judgmental and hadn’t already determined who he thought Ted was, he would have asked better questions, ones with open-ended responses.
Instead, Rupert only scratches the surface and asked closed yes/no answer type question signaling that he really wasn’t interested in the response either way. If he truly was curious, he would have asked broader questions, inviting Ted to expand upon his answer, listened to his response, and delve into a deeper conversation. If he had done so, he would have learned that Ted was an expert dart player and ultimately would have thought twice before making the bet.
How does this relate to my own life? It taught me that curiosity requires more hard work than judgment does. Curiosity requires your undivided attention. But by being curious we learn and grow. We need to be curious about all our relationships whether they are with family, friends, co-workers, or clients. We need to really listen to what they say and not what we think they are going to say. It reminds me to use more open-ended questions with thoughtful follow-up questions. This allows us to have a more in-depth conversation on both ends and leads to better understanding and caring relationships.
At work, being curious is beneficial. Each client and brand are unique, even in the same industry no two are alike. To reach the ultimate level of understanding we must be curious. Even with years of knowledge at the table at A3 Media, we start each planning session with an open mind and a blank page. We ask lots of questions. We never approach a situation with a ‘been there, done that’ attitude. We go beyond being open-minded and are truly curious. Our curiosity will lead to a better marketing plan and thus better results.
If you are looking for an agency full of curious people, people who are not judgmental and are interested in truly open conversations, look no further than A3 Media. We thrive in finding answers, we dig deep, and we truly enjoy getting to know you, your brand, and your customers.
It pays to be curious.
And just for you viewing pleasure, you can watch the full scene here on YouTube: https://youtu.be/3S16b-x5mRA