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The Coaching Corner with Michael Riegel: Be a Goldfish: Don’t Dwell on the Past

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In the hit series Ted Lasso, the perennially optimistic coach who finds himself transitioning from American football to soccer, he reminds his players to “be a goldfish”. He knows nothing about soccer, and neither would you to embrace his message, but he does understand human nature. He tells the team that a goldfish has the shortest memory span in the animal world. How can we consider his philosophy and embrace his guidance in our own lives?

Failure isn’t fatal – Don’t place too much emphasis on past mistakes. We all make mistakes, and the important element is to learn from the experience and strive not to make the same mistake again. Take the appropriate time to understand what happened, why it happened, how to recognize the causes, and then move on. It’s important to remember that no matter how much we might want to, we can’t change the past.

Success isn’t Final – We can apply the short memory concept to our successes as well. Often, we hold on to the career, project, or personal wins and hold them up as representative of our entire experience. It can color our views and ignores the hard work necessary to achieve a successful outcome. Past success is no guarantee of future success so maintain your humility and work ethic.

My only disagreement with Ted Lasso’s philosophy is in recognizing your allies who supported you throughout your career. While there are benefits to a short memory of failures and successes, have a long memory of your valued colleagues who you rely on and who count on you for support.

So, channel your inner Ted Lasso.

  • Be optimistic
  • Be willing to take on new challenges
  •  Be a Goldfish!

I look forward to continuing the conversation and, if there are any topics you’d like to see covered, you can reach me at

Michael Riegel


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