The WE-I Intelligence of Ted Lasso: Part 2

coach as instrument coaches emotions life lesson newsletter ted lasso Feb 06, 2024
Learning In Action, The WE-I Intelligence of Ted Lasso: Part 2
“I promise you there is something worse out there than being sad, and that’s being alone and being sad.” - Ted Lasso


When it debuted in August 2020, the Apple TV series, Ted Lasso, provided many of us with some much needed laughter and light amidst the many challenges triggered by the pandemic. 

Last week in this newsletter, we started to explore not the leadership of the fictional character, which has been lauded by many.  Instead, we are peering into his WE Intelligence.   


In short, WE Intelligence reflects our ability to be present with our experience and that of others during stressful encounters and do so without protecting or defending ourselves or initiating some form of coping to distance ourself from the distress of it. Our WE Intelligence is revealed in Learning in Action’s WE-I Profile.


Access of a Range of Feelings


Last week, we began the exploration of Ted Lasso’s emotional access when stressed or challenged and assessed his access to Anger as LOW  (See why here).  This week we’ll explore his access to other core emotions, such as anxiety, fear and sadness.


Anxiety - MED-HIGH Access - To understand this rating, we must first differentiate anxiety from fear. Ted has little fear in stressful situations, however, he does tend to demonstrate a fairly easy access to anxiety.


The Information and Gift of Anxiety


As we’ve been discussing, each emotion contains unique information and a gift for us. The information in anxiety is “there is something unclear or uncertain here” or “there’s not enough information here and I need more” or “there’s too much or conflicting information and I’m confused”. 


The gift we experience when we access anxiety is clarity. Because when we can feel our anxiety, we’ll also experience the impulse to gather more information to clarify any confusion or uncertainty.   


You might be thinking, “But why would I want to feel anxious?”  And I get it. Anxiety is uncomfortable. And many of us avoid it. Yet when we don't access our own anxiety, we will tend to act prematurely to stave off our anxiousness and our actions will have a “ready, fire, aim”

quality to them. Further, we’ll tend to justify our actions because acting makes us feel better than feeling anxious does. 


Back to Ted, he can seem like he’s not anxious because he’s so comfortable in so many situations that we might not be. But that’s related to his low fear. His anxiety reveals itself in situations that have an echo of past situations. 


In particular, he appears to be quite anxious initially around Dr. Sharon Fieldstone. His natural, funny upbeat nature appears almost manic around her. Ted’s likely anxious about what he doesn’t know about therapy, Dr. Fieldstone and her potential impact on the team he loves. And of course, his one and only past experience of therapy, couples therapy, didn’t go so well. So perhaps that further amps up his anxiety.


The Cost of Higher Anxiety


People who have high and easy access to anxiety report experiencing anxiety almost like a fog, which  can make it more difficult to discern the information they seek. In the case of Ted’s relationship with Dr. Fieldstone, his near manic friendliness actually creates more distance between the doctor and himself. If he were better self-regulated, more grounded and less anxious, he’d likely be able to build more of a connection with her sooner.   


Fear -  LOW Access - Ted’s access to fear is fairly low. And in the context of WE Intelligence, it means that he isn’t afraid of a bit of conflict.  His lack of fear pierces through a frank conversation with Roy about his issue with Trent Crimm. 


At a pivotal moment, Ted pulls Roy aside and very directly, very plainly says “Hey, I don’t know what your beef is with Trent Crimm, but I’m gonna need you to order off the Vegan menu and squash it!”. Ted wasn’t mincing words (he was flat out chopping them).


So, you might be thinking, “That’s good, right?!  “No fear!” is the rallying cry of many extreme sport enthusiasts. Perhaps a better rallying cry would be “Know fear!”.


The Information and Gift of Fear


As you might expect, the information in fear is that “this is NOT safe”. And when we take in the information in fear, we can receive its gift, which is the impulse to protect ourself in some way. When we don’t have a healthy access to fear, we may enter into tenuous situations too easily. And feeling a little fear under stress can keep us out of trouble.


The Cost of Low Fear


People who have low access to fear can tend to enter into conflict too easily because they have little fear of what would go wrong in the relationship. And the result can be that they engage in conflict too lightly because they aren’t afraid of it and they may not realize the fear that others experience in the same situation.  


Fortunately, Ted’s warmth, care and kindness make his rare directness under stress more palatable.  Though Ted is telling Roy to, basically, “Get over it already!”, Roy accepts it and does as he is told because Ted has been so supportive in so many other situations.


So even though Ted doesn’t access much fear, he rarely experiences the cost of it because he is so likely to let things go (like the initial bullying of Nate) and see how the issue/challenge/conflict plays out in the long term. 


Sadness - HIGH Access - Ted’s access to sadness is quite high. People who have experienced significant loss in their life tend to touch into sadness more easily. Sadness has the longest “shelf life” of any emotion, probably because, so often, there’s simply nothing to be done about it.


Information and Gift of Sadness


The information within sadness is that of loss, “I have lost someone or something important to me”. The gift in sadness is sensitivity which can lead to connection.  


When Ted finally reveals his story about finding his dad to Dr. Fieldstone, he shares that after experiencing that enormous loss,


 “I knew right then and there that I was never gonna let anybody get by me without understanding they might be hurt inside. Life is hard.  It’s real hard.”


The Cost of High Sadness


When our access to sadness is quite high, it’s often because it’s gone largely unprocessed, as Ted’s has.   And as long as our sadness remains neatly tucked away, it can erupt unexpectedly (as Ted’s did) and it can mute our experience of our lives.   


In next week’s newsletter, we’ll look at Ted’s access to his pleasant emotions and his overwhelming tendency toward pollyanna positivity. 


If you are curious about your own WE-I Profile, we’d love for you to experience it for yourself.  


If you are already a WE-I Practitioner, we invite you to refresh your learning. We have training starting on February 20 and we’d love for you to join us. 


Stay tuned for more on the WE Intelligence of Ted Lasso next week.