Five TED Talks to Help You Find Purpose
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The TED conferences began 30 years ago as a summit for technology and design. But in the last several years, TED has emerged as the go-to platform for spreading innovative ideas in diverse fields like sociology and religion. It makes industry-leading experts accessible to internet users everywhere through impactful presentations. TED presenters range from climate scientists, to economists, to art historians. One thing that many have in common, however, is that they’ve questioned their life’s path along the way.
If you’re looking for inspiration or just need a reminder of the many ways to find personal success, these five TED Talks may help you connect -or reconnect- with a sense of purpose.
“Why some of us don’t have one true calling”
Emilie Wapnick (Bend, Oregon; 2015)
One of the most common questions we ask young people can also be the most daunting: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” For some people, the answer is easy. For Emilie Wapnick, now an artist and career coach, it wasn’t. Her problem, when it came to that query, was never that she has no career in mind, but rather that she had too many. She’d find herself invested in many subjects and learning everything she could about them, until her next obsession came along. After many years of self-doubt and frustration, Wapnick realized that she wasn’t alone and there might just be a name for her eternal curiosity. She found herself identifying as a “multipotentialite,” or a person with many different interests and creative pursuits.
“As a society, we have a vested interest in encouraging multipotentialites to be themselves,” Wapnick said. “We have a lot of complex, multidimensional problems in the world right now, and we need creative, out-of-the-box thinkers to tackle them.”
Watch for: Wapnick’s TED talk offers an interesting take on the power of uncertainty and what unexpected traits it may bring to the table.
“Your elusive creative genius”
Elizabeth Gilbert (Long Beach, California; 2009)
Elizabeth Gilbert’s name might sounds familiar. That’s because her book Eat, Pray, Love was a worldwide phenomenon that kept her on the New York Times Best Seller list for 187 weeks. But despite her success, Gilbert was—and is—not without her own fear of failure. Gilbert’s candid TED Talk opens with an acknowledgment that she never expected her memoir to be such a massive hit, and admitting her worry that her most significant work was already behind her. This fear, she explained, caused her to question the way we treat artists in our society.
“We've completely internalized and accepted collectively this notion that creativity and suffering are somehow inherently linked,” Gilbert said. But, she doesn’t believe that has to be the case. In this talk, she explores the origin of creativity and encourages artists everywhere to do their jobs without worrying about the consequences.
Watch for: If you’re feeling stuck or like you’re not using your best assets, Gilbert’s talk offers an inspirational reminder on how to channel your creativity and purpose.
“A kinder, gentler philosophy of success”
Alain de Botton (Oxford, England; 2009)
Writer and philosopher Alain de Botton believes we live in a time that offers more opportunities to earn a living than ever before. Unfortunately, that freedom can also bring an unprecedented amount of career anxiety along with it. According to Botton, one of the most pressing issues is that professional success is now often perceived as personal success, meaning acceptance and approval can be based on job title or salary rather than personal fulfillment.
“The next time you see somebody driving a Ferrari, don't think, ‘This is somebody who's greedy,’” Botton said. “Think, ‘This is somebody who is incredibly vulnerable and in need of love.’” Botton believes there are many reasons we’re driven to be successful, but we have to be careful to keep it in perspective. “The thing about a successful life is that, a lot of the time, our ideas of what it would mean to live successfully are not our own,” Botton said. In his TED Talk, he encourages us to create our own vision of success with the hope that it will point us toward a happier and more empowered life.
Watch for: In the era of social media, it can be easy to compare yourself against others “success.” De Botton tells us how we can stay centered and find fulfillment in the simple things.
“Flow, the secret to happiness”
Mihaly Cskikszentmihalyi (Monterey, California; 2009)
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is now a world-renowned psychologist, but he fell into his career largely by chance. As a young teenager, Csikszentmihalyi found himself unable to afford the price of a movie ticket and instead opted to attend a free psychology lecture by someone he’d never heard of – Carl Jung. Since that unexpected start to his passion for psychology, Csikszentmihalyi has spent his time trying to figure out exactly where happiness comes from. He and his colleagues have interviewed over 8,000 people who enjoy their work, and found that his subjects are most fulfilled when they’ve achieved a “state of flow.” To Csikszentmihalyi, flow is the perfect intersection between challenge and skill that allows people to lose themselves in their work. In his insightful TED Talk, he describes what it feels like to flow and how people have arrived at this state of personal nirvana. His words may just inspire you to find that feeling inside yourself.
Watch for: If you find yourself debating a new venture or project, Csikszentmihalyi’s talk on “flow" -the meditative state of personal fulfillment- could be the push you need to make the jump.
“Why you will fail to have a great career”
Larry Smith (Waterloo, Ontario; 2011)
If you really need a jolt, this TED Talk from economist Larry Smith may be perfect for getting you back on track. Smith doesn’t beat around the bush as he enumerates the reasons why you’ll fail to have a great career. “You're afraid to look ridiculous,” he said. “You're afraid to try. You're afraid you may fail.” Perhaps you’re more interested in nurturing your personal relationships than cultivating professional contacts, or you simply don’t think you’re special enough to be a true success. You won’t have a great career, Smith contends, unless you overcome these obstacles that stand between you and following your passion. It can be frightening to take a risk and embrace the thing you love. There’s a laundry list of things that can go wrong, but as Smith explains, the alternative to following your passion could be far worse.
Watch for: For many of us, a fear of failure can stop us from living out our potential. Smith’s inspiring TED talk is a rallying cry for living a fearless -and ultimately successful- life.
First published by Chivas The Venture on http://www.chivas.com/en-gb/the-venture.
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