If you haven’t watched the TV series Friday Night Lights since you’ve become a father, you should watch it again. There’s a reason that Coach Taylor is so compelling on the screen: It’s because he’s the way almost all of us wish our fathers had been.
He’s tough but fair. He loves his wife and his daughter and his job. He demands excellence, but forgives mistakes. He puts family above everything, he puts people first. He sees what they need. He knows how to reach kids, especially kids who are struggling. He teaches them how to become the best version of themselves. He’s the perfect coach—the kind that David Epstein talked to us about a while back, and the kind of parental figure that James Frey spoke of—the one that can treat each kid differently and reach them where they need to be reached.
There’s one expression from the show, quite famous now, but worth remembering as a father: Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose. Coach Taylor shouts it with the team before each game. It’s great advice for a dad of course and is clearly the abiding parental philosophy of the character and the show. He sees everything, he loves everyone, he always finds a way to win in the end, even if it’s in a way we don’t expect.
It’s also not a bad attitude to instill in your kids: If you keep your eyes open (don’t be naive) and your heart open (care about others, don’t close yourself off), you can’t lose in life.
Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose!