Friday Night Lights is one of the greatest television shows of all time. I said it! There are many things that make Friday Night Lights great: the cinematography, Tami Taylor…I could go on and on. More importantly, Friday Night Lights features one of the greatest TV show quotes: “Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose!”

Throughout the series, high school football coach Eric Taylor, leads a rallying cry right before the team heads on to the football field. Coach Taylor yells, “Clear Eyes, Full Hearts!” And the football team choruses, “Can’t Lose!”

 

Scene from Friday Night Lights where lockeroom is full of a football team. At bottom of photo is yellow text that says Clear Eyes Full Hearts!

A GIF of football team from Friday Night Lights. Two men are yelling Can't Lose!

 

Where did “Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose,” originate from? Here’s a fun fact: Friday Night Lights is an adaptation of the 2004 film. And the film is an adaptation of the book by H.G Bissinger. In the Friday Night Lights movie, Coach Gaines, played by Billy Bob Thorton, delivers a speech about perfection to his team. He says:

Well I want you to understand somethin’. To me, being perfect is not about that scoreboard out there. It’s not about winning. It’s about you and your relationship to yourself and your family and your friends. Being perfect is about being able to look your friends in the eye and know that you didn’t let them down, because you told them the truth. And that truth is that you did everything that you could. There wasn’t one more thing that you could’ve done.Can you live in that moment, as best you can, with clear eyes and love in your heart? With joy in your heart? If you can do that gentlemen, then you’re perfect.

In short, “Clear Eyes Full Hearts Can’t Lose.”

Coach Taylor from Friday Night Lights saying one of the greatest TV show quotes of all time: Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can't LoseSo now you’re thinking, “Cool – but what’s so inspiring about those six words and why is it one of the greatest TV show quotes?” Here are the leadership lessons “Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose” can teach you!

Clear Eyes

If you wear glasses, you are familiar with the moment when your glasses become so dirty that you can’t see through them anymore. So what do you do? You clean them and you’re back to viewing the world through clear lenses. The concept of “clear eyes” is similar. It’s easy to let other things distract us and cloud our vision – money, insecurities, doubt, jealousy, and fear. But we should regularly check-in to ensure that we aren’t distracted by superficiality or things that compromise our integrity. When you go about your day with “clear eyes,” you live according to your core values as you work towards your vision to make the world a better place. And at the end of the day, you can look at yourself – and the people who are important to you – with a clear conscious and zero regrets.

Full Hearts

Brene Brown has this concept about wholehearted living that I adore. It also captures what it means to live with a “full heart.” She defines wholehearted living as:

Wholehearted living is about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness. It means cultivating the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, “No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough.” It’s going to bed at night thinking, “Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging.

There’s a lot of goodness to unpack there, but I think it captures what it means to have a full heart. Authenticity. Self-compassion. Vulnerability. Connection. We need to bring all of that to our friendships, work, relationships, and personal development. A full heart is what you need to serve yourself and others. As Eleanor Brownn says, “When you take time to replenish your spirit, it allows you to serve others from the overflow. You cannot serve from an empty vessel.

Can’t Lose

“Clear Eyes Full Hearts Can’t Lose” doesn’t mean that everything is going to turn out well. As Beyonce says, “You don’t realize that you could actually work super hard and give everything you have and lose.” But even if you lose, people will respect you, trust you, and learn from you. That’s because it’s better to lose with your head held high and your integrity intact, than to win by going against every single one of your core values and disappointing the people that matter. It’s better to give your all and commit to trying again, then to put in a half-hearted effort and live with regret. Finally, even though you may still lose, it’s better to strive for connection instead of perfection.

Our communities, our teams, companies, neighborhoods and relationships become better when we show up with clear eyes and full hearts. When we’re not worried about being perfect, we can focus on being fully present. We make mistakes. We reflect. We empathize. We listen. We collaborate. We unlearn. We laugh. We grow. We love. You don’t get to experience all of those joys when you try to be perfect, you only experience that with your eyes and heart wide open.

As you can see, Friday Night Lights, one of the greatest TV shows of all time, teaches valuable leadership lessons from a single quote. Remember done is better than perfect. Do all things with integrity. Embrace vulnerability and seek connection. Whatever you do, go in with clear eyes and a full heart, and I promise you can’t lose.

*SPECIAL TREAT*

Next time you need some inspiration, check out this ultimate goosebump-inducing pep talk from Coach Taylor: