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3 TED Talks to Rejuvenate Your Life and Career

These three TED Talks are sure to get your career juices pumping and help you to start the work week off right, so take a minute to watch these presentations and see if you don’t have an “ah ha” moment each time.

ted talks

(Photo Credit: Alan Cleaver/Flickr)

1. Simon Sinek: How great leaders inspire action

(Video Credit: TED Talks)

Simon Sinek, author of "Start With Why," had a revelation one day: he claims that there is a pattern to how all the great leaders and organizations of the world work, and he explains this through a concept he calls The Golden Circle. His visualization outlines how great leaders and successful brands first focus on the "why" of doing business instead of the "how" or "what." Here’s a breakdown of the three aspects of The Golden Circle and their meanings:

Why (innermost circle) - What's your purpose, cause, or belief? Or, more importantly, why should anyone care about what you're selling? How (middle circle) - How do you produce and deliver your product or service to its intended audience? Also, how is your product or service different or unique?  What (outermost circle) - What is your product or service? What purpose does it serve? 

Sinek claims that most companies work from the outside in: What > How > Why; when, in reality, they should work from the inside out: Why > How > What. In starting with "why," companies are able to inspire people and make them believe in the product or service, rather than trying to demand or convince people that they need the product or service. 

For sales professionals and entrepreneurs, this information is extremely valuable because this concept helps explain how to effectively sell to your audience by understanding the why behind the product or service being sold. Remember, people buy WHY you do it, not WHAT you do.

2. Stefan Sagmeister: The power of time off

(Video Credit: TED Talks)

Stefan Sagmeister runs a successful design studio in NY and has done work for some well-known musicians and brands around the world (e.g. The Rolling Stones). To keep his creative juices flowing, Sagmeister closes down his studio every seven years and takes a year-long sabbatical to pursue an new idea, experiment, or project that he cannot entertain during the regular working year. Sagmeister indicates that working on design constantly caused him to get bored and his work began looking the same over time, therefore, he is able to reignite his passion for design when he takes time off to focus on other endeavors. Much of the time spent on outside projects while on vacation somehow finds its way back to Sagmeister’s original passion, design, making his sabbaticals a necessary component to facilitate fresh, exciting, and stellar work over time.

Of course this type of freedom to skip out for an entire year is not realistic to 99 percent of the working population, but if time off proves successful in the long-run, then why knock it? Job satisfaction is a crucial component to an individual’s happiness, and more time off would definitely be a plus for many working professionals. As Sagmeister suggests, his sabbaticals allowed him a chance to rejuvenate and, in turn, he was able to return back to work refreshed, more creative, and with new inspiration for his clients. Watch his presentation to see how stepping away from the day-to-day can lead to innovation and rejuvenation.

3. Shawn Achor: The happy secret to better work

(Video Credit: TED Talks)

We saved the best for last. Shawn Achor is a Harvard grad who now practices and speaks about positive psychology, mainly how to find happiness in our everyday lives by simply changing the lens in which we view the world through. In his invigorating and hilarious presentation, Achor discusses the power of changing one’s perspective to change one’s life, explaining that:

“90 percent of your long-term happiness is predicted not by the external world, but by the way your brain processes it.” “Only 25 percent of job successes are predicted by I.Q.” “75 percent of job successes are predicted by your optimism levels, your social support, and your ability to see stress as a challenge instead of a threat.”

Achor points out that, as a society, we have been taught and now believe that we will be happy when we achieve X (whatever X may be in your own life). However, when we finally do achieve X, we then push ourselves to want more and do better, so X becomes not good enough anymore. In doing so, we have pushed happiness out of our reach by creating a sense of "bigger and better," thus becoming insatiable and unhappy. Therefore, ironically, it is our idea of happiness and the endless journey to attain it that convinces us, as a whole, that we are unhappy in our lives and our work.

So, what does this mean for professionals? Ask yourself this: if you are not happy with your life right now, do you think it is actually your work that is the problem, or is it the lens in which you view your work, life, and yourself that needs adjusting? A simple refocusing or change of perspective could help you see that the happiness you’ve been searching for has been sitting right in front of you all along.

Tell Us What You Think

Have these TED Talks reshaped the way you think of and view happiness in your everyday life? If so, share your thoughts on Twitter or in the comments section below.

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