1. What the heck is a Personal Operating System?
  2. Why should you care?
  3. How did Ted Lasso use what he knows about Personal Operating Systems for maximum impact?

What the heck is a Personal Operating system?

In the simplest possible terms, a personal operating system is what makes you tick. For instance:

  • Are you a member of the 5 a.m. club, or are you fired up burning the midnight oil?
  • After a long week, do you get energy by hanging out with friends or by cuddling up with a good book and/or your dog?
  • Cardio or weights?
  • Tea or coffee?

We could go on for days… And that’s the point. Everyone has their own personal operating system. They include a persons:

  • Motivators
  • De-motivators
  • Personal philosophy
  • Core values
  • Strengths/weaknesses
  • Pet peeves/passions
  • Words to live by
  • Ways to learn, grow and communicate

Our personal operating system is what makes us uniquely US! And in a world of automation, that is what makes us stand out.

Why should you care about Personal Operating Systems?

Have you ever started a new job or gotten a new boss (or coach or teacher) who was all business?

  • Did it feel cold and impersonal?
  • Did you feel overwhelmed with information and disconnected at the same time?
  • Did you feel like an outsider?

On the contrary, have you ever been part of a team where you fit right in. They “got” you and you felt supported and motivated.

That’s the power of Personal Operating Systems.

When you know your own, you can identify and attract situations that feel right and empower you to be your best version of yourself.

When you know others, you can empower them so they maximize their strengths (and minimize or strengthen their weaknesses) for the benefit of the entire organization or team.

Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

How did Ted Lasso use what he knows about Personal Operating Systems for maximum impact?

This is worthy of an entire conversation. As a matter of fact, we had one on our podcast. You can watch it here:

Lens of Leadership: Ted Lasso Rewatch Podcast

Here are some highlights:

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  1. The statement “food is the way to a person’s heart” is true!
    • Biscuits with the boss was the first step in warming Rebecca’s heart
    • ChinChin and birthday cake warmed Sam Obisanya’s homesick soul
    • Salad with Higgins was how Ted scheduled time to get to know the Director of Football Operations
  2. Research and do the work
    • Anyone can learn to become a transformational/servant leader. It is not something you are born with. But it requires effort. Ted went to Rebecca to ask about Jamie Tartt’s “operating instructions” and then went to Keeley’s photoshoot to look for answers.
  3. Ask for feedback (and then, for the love of Pete, do something about it!)
    • Whether you are a new leader trying to learn about the team or an experienced one always looking to move the needle, asking for feedback is critical. Ted and Beard did this with a brightly colored suggestion box (not part of the requirement 😉 ). However, part of the requirement is to do something with the information. Not all of the suggestions need to be implemented, but the team needs to know that they were considered (and the good ones – like shower water pressure – should be addressed).

We found that once we started outlining our own personal operating systems and our company operating system that hiring and inspiring the right folks came a little bit easier. It also helped to sort out why some people were just not a great fit.

As Ted told Trent Crimm, The Independent, a couple of times: it is not about the wins and losses, it is about helping his players become the best versions of themselves. The coaches knew that the team as a whole would perform at the highest level IF each member of the team leveled up.

I think they made it pretty clear that they didn’t need an entire team of Jamie Tartt’s even though he was their star player. The same holds true in business. Not everyone needs to be Ted Lasso.

Everyone has a unique role to play and the more players that you can get playing at their full potential the more power you have. (Cue the diversity conversations here!)

McKinsey found that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on their executive teams were 25% more likely to experience above-average profitability.

When I took our leadership assessment, I wasn’t surprised that I have a lot in common with Ted Lasso. Here is a bit from my personal operating system that supports that:

I aim to be positive and enthusiastic, bringing energy and passion to work. I am one of those irritatingly chipper early risers who checks email at 5:15 am. I cherish my morning hours of peace before the day begins so I can do thinking work (and enjoy tea – sorry Ted).

The full doc (linked here) has helped us in business and in life.

We started having new hires build their own personal operating system. We shared ours with them and vice versa. It accomplished several things:

  • Human connection is critical in today’s world of automation and this gave a starting point
  • It set expectations which can head off some disappointments and disagreements at the pass
  • It helped us see how to build on each others strengths and support each other’s needs

In one episode of the show, Coach Beard quoted Ted saying: All people are different people.

And while you may say yes, Captain Obvious, you might not be considering the notion that everyone is motivated differently. While donuts might be a treat for some, it might raise someone else’s blood sugar to an unacceptable level. Bonus points in a team app might be just what your colleague needed or that might seem irrelevant to them. And that is why team building is critically important.

But beyond the team, knowing your own personal operating system can help you as a person and as worker or boss or neighbor or teammate.

One recent college graduate, Hugh, gave this feedback after reading Lead It Like Lasso: I realized that if I really understand myself then my life can guide my career instead of a job running my life. Yes, Hugh know it!

Here’s another snippet from his personal operating system.

A How-to from Hugh:

One way I operate day-to-day to allow for my best “work-life balance” is to get most of my harder thinking task work done in the morning. If I can do it before noon-to-late-lunch it allows me to clear my head for the rest of the day.

I am a creative person, and a lot of my creative thoughts and passions come out later in the day… therefore why I try to get most of my “work” done early. There are some days when I have to adjust my schedule. I believe being able to stray from the operating system and still achieve a productive result is also important.

I believe since everyone “operates” differently we all have different operating systems that help us fine tune our productivity. Understanding oneself leads to personal growth.

Takeaway: Have patience with oneself when taking on new parts of life. 

Well said Hugh!

If you want to check out some of AFC Richmond’s personal operating systems or create your own, download this doc. There is a free template link at the end.

As you define your own personal operating system, here are some questions to consider:

1. Values and Principles:

   – What values are most important to me in both professional and personal aspects of life?

   – Are there specific principles or philosophies that guide my decision-making?

2. Strengths and Weaknesses:

   – What are my key strengths and how do they contribute to my success?

   – Are there areas where I recognize weaknesses, and how can I address or mitigate them?

3. Preferred Working Styles:

   – Do I thrive in a structured or more flexible work environment?

   – How do I prefer to organize and prioritize tasks to maximize productivity?

4. Communication Preferences:** (We actually have an additional communication guide because this is so critical)

   – How do I prefer to communicate with others (e.g., in-person, written, virtual)?

   – Do I express myself more effectively through verbal or written communication?

5. Decision-Making Approach:

   – What is my typical decision-making process? Do I seek input from others or prefer making decisions independently?

6. Learning and Growth:

   – How do I approach learning and professional development? What methods work best for me?

   – What strategies do I use to adapt to new challenges and acquire new skills?

7. Collaboration and Team Dynamics:

   – What role do I typically play in a team setting? (e.g., leader, collaborator, contributor)

   – How do I handle conflict and disagreements within a team?

8. Time Management:

   – How do I prioritize tasks and manage my time effectively?

   – Are there specific time management techniques that align with my personal style?

9. Response to Change:

   – How do I typically respond to change or uncertainty in both professional and personal situations?

   – What strategies do I use to navigate transitions and adapt to new circumstances?

10. Work-Life Integration:

    – How do I balance and integrate my work and personal life?

    – What boundaries do I set to maintain a healthy work-life relationship?

If you want to learn more about business operating systems, Claire Hughes Johnson wrote what feels like a textbook called Scaling People. It has lessons and activities around defining business operating systems.

And here are a couple others Beard and Ted might recommend:

  • “The Diversity Bonus” by Scott E. Page emphasizes how diverse perspectives lead to better outcomes and innovation.
  • “Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High” by Kerry Patterson provides insights into effective communication strategies.
  • “The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of The Learning Organization” by Peter M. Senge emphasizes the importance of creating organizations that value continuous learning.