Don't discount the process of elimination
Ted Lasso's mustache holds a key to discovering your purpose, seriously
Coach Lasso has a way with words. In this week’s episode of the folksy soccer-themed book of virtues, Ted Lasso, Richmond’s team was losing 3-0 in their match despite a bold new strategy called “Total Football.” The idea of total football is to eliminate roles on the team and encourage everyone to read each other, support decisions made by the other players, and move fluidly on the field. So far, it’s not working. Ted Lasso (played by Jason Sudeikis) enters the halftime locker room and dives into a rather strange anecdote about his facial hair and the old Blue Collar Comedy Tour, which starred Jeff Foxworthy and Larry the Cable Guy (remember them?!)
Oddly enough, it speaks to a timeless Quaker idea about how to find your purpose in life. I’ll explain.
The process of elimination
Ted Lasso’s mustache is somewhat iconic. Turns out though that the character ripped it from comedian Jeff Foxworthy. Lasso talked about how in preparation for his wedding, he was unsure what kind of facial hair style he should have. It’s a big day after all. Lots of photos. So he started the Bill Engvall ‘boxed beard’ style. Didn’t like it. Then he cut parts off to model Larry the Cable Guy’s signature goatee.
Then his Best Man for the wedding said of his goatee that Ted “looked like he just ate out big foot’s butthole”……fair. So Ted Lasso shaved that off too.
In the end, he was left only with the crisp mustache that defines the AppleTV character and has made Lasso a staple of Halloween parties worldwide since the show’s debut. Ted summed up his rambling monologue:
“I shaved that thing down into a “Foxworthy” and never looked back. Point is, a lot of times the right idea is sitting behind a couple of the wrong ones.”
I’ve been going through a bit of a transition myself. This month I chose to leave my job of the last 15 months and to search for something new. Job change is not new to me. What is new is leaving Job X before Job Y has presented itself. I’m not sure what I’ll do, but I felt a call to enter the wilderness and to practice waiting and listening, for a change.
Did you catch that part above? It would mean a lot to have you aboard as a Paid Subscriber. Thank you for reading and sharing with your community, family and friends.
“Have Faith. Way Will Open”
During this time I’ve been reading a book that my mother sent me called Let Your Life Speak. It’s a thin little guide to the search for vocation by a Quaker counselor named Parker Palmer. In it, Palmer described a similar crisis of self he encountered in his mid-30s. Like me, Parker was working in Washington, DC as a political organizer and activist. Like me, he thought his whole life that this was his calling. Then it began to become clear that it wasn’t. That sent him into something of a personal crisis and into a Quaker community in Pennsylvania to try and get his spirit put back together.
While he was there, Parker spoke to an older woman named Ruth about his search for purpose and the “thing” he’s supposed to do with his life. The Quakers have an expression for fellow searchers which is to “Have faith. Way will open.” To me that sounded a lot like when Obi-Wan Kenobi learned in his self-titled TV series that you could only “see the path once your eyes are closed.”
Parker didn’t find this helpful after a year passed. So he pushed Ruth on the subject. Ruth said to him….
“In 60 years of living, way has never opened in front of me. But a lot of way has closed behind me. That’s had the same guiding effect.”
Do you see? Too often we get stuck on wanting doors to open in front of us or for the Red Sea to part ways so we can cross the promised land. That will happen for some people. For others, learn to make do with the process of elimination. Don’t repeat mistakes. When a door shuts, accept it as shut. Don’t try to force square pegs through round holes. Listen to what the world, what your Best Man, what God…is trying to tell you. Ted Lasso learned this simply by shaving and applied it to coaching a soccer team.
Sometimes the voice of guidance is a Yes.
Sometimes it comes in the form of a No. Don’t ignore it.
This is the way.
“When one door closes another door opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.”
- Alexander Graham Bell
Thank you for reading This Is The Way
If you’d like to read more from me unrelated to pop culture wisdom, I’m in Newsweek today on the Bud Light - Dylan Mulvaney controversy that has driven national news for four weeks and cost the beer brand billions of dollars. Here’s an excerpt:
In a sense, all instances of holding people to account feel somewhat like cancellation. The line is fuzzy. But cancel culture is uniquely detached from institutional self-interest and questions about who is accountable to whom. It's companies dumping employees for ugly high-school-age social media posts that could have been made by anyone in the company. It's national news outlets putting the spotlight on unsuspecting high school students for ill-advised language, and punishing wrongthink by professors on college campuses where the purpose of the institution is supposedly to widen perspectives. These are the things of cancel culture. It's about social stricture, reshaping institutions to the will of disinterested minorities, and control.
The presence of angry people on Twitter doesn't mean Anheuser-Busch caved to a mob. Bud Light was facing nervous beer wholesale distributors from coast to coast, a 17 percent hit in the stock market, and all for an influencer outreach strategy that senior management say they knew nothing about. Anheuser-Busch InBev's stock will be fine a year from now, but the company learned that certain individuals in charge of an expensive flagship product didn't respect or appreciate the audience they already had. It is not cancel culture to course correct.
Both me and my dog, Kylo, have been really sick this month. Kylo had a bout of extreme nerve pain following an old injury, and was almost totally immobile for a week. It was so sad to see. Then I got bronchitis and have been suffering through all that nastiness. But, rest works wonders. We’re both almost recovered.
Do good things this weekend.
This Is The Way is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.