How Exposure to “Ted Lasso”-Like Media Sets A Foundation for Success

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This is not going to be a leadership analysis of Jason Sudeikis’ character, Coach Ted Lasso. While I would argue that this unlikely protagonist is worth looking to to guide leaders, this is a discussion of how mediums like the “Ted Lasso” can be part of a strategy to enhance success in your life. It is how we can choose means to prepare our brain to be in an optimal place of functioning.

Many of us forget to prepare our brains when working towards our personal and professional goals. We prepare our skills and perfect our behaviors, but we often overlook the conscious and deliberate efforts required to get our brains to work at their best. Here’s how you can use areas of entertainment and information to prime your brain, starting with a process called priming.

Related: How complaining rewires your brain for negativity

What is priming?

In psychology, priming is the process by which we unconsciously teach our brains to focus on certain things based on exposure to different variables. For example, let’s say you were interested in buying a new car. You consider other options, but then decide to buy a Jeep. Suddenly, you start seeing Jeeps everywhere. This is the effect of priming.

As another example, let’s say a new coworker does some irritating things. You mention to a friend how much that person gets under your skin. Suddenly everything this person does irritates you and you see few redeeming qualities in your co-worker. This is also the effect of preparation.

Ultimately, your brain will do what you tell it to do, focusing on what you tell it to focus on. He will then look for evidence or examples to support what we say or believe. In the above cases, you told your brain that you were interested in a Jeep and it found all the examples of Jeeps around you, confirming your choice of vehicle. You also told your brain that your coworker was irritating, so it focused on all the examples that supported your negative belief about your coworker. Not only have you primed your brain, but you’ve also created confirmation bias.

What is confirmation bias?

When you prime your brain to focus on certain things, you also create the environment for your brain to interpret, favor, and remember information in a way that confirms your beliefs. Our beliefs are typically based on paying attention to information that validates them and ignoring information that refutes them.

In the coworker example, your brain is primed to see the irritating things your coworker does. When there are neutral actions, your brain interprets them as unfavorable. And when your partner does something positive, your brain will translate it into negative terms. “He only did it because people were watching” or “he said that because he knew I was upset with him – that’s not how he really feels.” With your new Jeep, your brain finds all the examples of Jeeps in society and confirms that it was the right choice because “a lot of people love them.”

The problem with confirmation bias is that it can trap us in a belief system that might include emotions or behaviors that don’t serve our goals. We are less likely to consider other options and begin to create a daily experience for ourselves that ultimately hurts our success.

Related: 5-Step Formula to Rewire Your Brain for Business Success

How can “Ted Lasso”-like exposure help?

So you may ask how does watching “Ted Lasso” relate to priming and confirmation bias? I will tell you from my experience. I started every day this month watching the show while working out. Every episode is mostly or completely happy. Every episode reflects kindness. The characters are redeeming. Relationships are beautiful. When I walk away from an episode, I feel good and it takes away something that makes me more optimistic. I look at this and I braced my brain for goodness.

It doesn’t have to be this show, but we can deliberately choose to ingest media that primes our brains to pay attention to good and happy things. Doing so allows us to see our world in ways that affirm happiness.

Ultimately, by choosing music, podcasts, TV shows, movies, books, and other opportunities for positive exposure, we create a foundation in our brains for the emotions and behaviors we want to flourish. It doesn’t mean we don’t see or hear the negative, challenging, or even bad things in the world. By choosing media that supports how we want to see, feel and think, we create a cognitive space that allows us to be at our optimal level of functioning to cope with and mitigate the harshest realities. We have more creativity to determine solutions. We have more energy to carry out our plans. We have more patience to listen and communicate with others.

Consider this. We know that when we nourish our bodies with foods that benefit us, we feel better. We work better. We have more energy. Why wouldn’t the same be true of our brains in terms of cognitive functioning?

Related: 5 science-backed ways to strengthen your brain

what do you choose

Ask yourself a question. How do you feel after watching or listening to the various sources of entertainment or information in your life? Do you feel invigorated? Do you feel recharged? What do you notice most in your world? Do good people and situations that can be building blocks for your personal or professional goals help create solutions to manage social problems?

Or do you feel depressed? Discouraged? Do you see people and everyday life as obstacles and problems? Do you think there are no solutions and feel stuck?

It comes down to your constant cognitive diet. Nutritionally, are you filling your brain with sugar, fat and simple carbs? Or are you giving it a balance of nutrients to keep it strong and vital? It’s a choice we know how to make for our bodies, but not all of us make it for our minds. You can decide whether you want higher or lower, choosing information and media that inspire and energize you or media that drains and drains you.

In the words of Coach Lasso, “because every choice is an opportunity [and] it’s our choices that show who we really are, far more than our abilities.”

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