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10 Pieces of Career Advice from 10 TED Talks

TED stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design, the three major fields that move the world today. However, TED Talks have expanded to include speakers from all fields to share their ideas. The only requirement is that they are “ideas worth spreading.” Here are 10 speakers sharing career advice, insight into entrepreneurship and living a purposeful life both personally and professionally.

1. The Power of Vulnerability

Research professor and storyteller Brené Brown, explains how people fail to make a connection because they are afraid of vulnerability. They are ashamed of their imperfections and hide behind a facade.

This lack of authenticity keeps them from achieving a level of satisfaction in their career and life. She says, “..the people who have a strong sense of love and belonging believe they’re worthy of love and belonging. That’s it. They believe they’re worthy. …these folks had, very simply, the courage to be imperfect.–”

Never be ashamed of who you are and you will find that you can more readily accept imperfection in others as well. This understanding will make you more empathetic and help you build better relationships both personally and professionally.

2. Turning Fear into Fuel

Former lawyer, blogger, serial entrepreneur and author Jonathan Fields points out that people are so afraid of failing that it prevents them from achieving success in their careers. People are so conditioned to fear failure that they cannot conceive success. Three common fears are: Fear of failure, fear of judgement and oddly, fear of success.

He says, “And fear of failure can be this devastating thing because we just ask this question, ‘What if I fail?’ …It stops us from asking two other questions, which are mission critical to our ability to re-frame fear and move through it. And those two questions are: What if I do nothing? What if I succeed?”

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” – Helen Keller

Jonathan tells the audience to ask themselves this questions and to create a realistic scenario in their head of what the failure would look like. But says that is only half of the question is “How will I recover?” He explains that most people find is that doing that helps dis-empowers the fear of failure.

To do nothing is to achieve nothing and to fear failure is to never achieve success. If you instead focus on the other side of the spectrum, “What if I succeed?” you can let go of the fear and accomplish great things in your professional life.

3. School Kills Creativity

Educationist Sir Ken Robinson says, “My contention is that creativity now is as important in education as literacy and we should treat it with the same status.”

He points out that the education system is geared to suppress and eliminate creativity in favor of academic pursuits. “We are now running national education systems where mistakes are the worst thing you can make. The result is, we are educating people out of their creative capacities.”

“All children are born artists. The problem is how to remain an artist when you grow up.” – Pablo Picasso

He states, “And the consequence is that many highly-talented, brilliant, creative people think they’re not, because the thing they were good at at school wasn’t valued, or was actually stigmatized.”

Creative people need to realize that their weirdness is just another manifestation of the human capacity for greatness and should embrace it as such. “If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you will never come up with anything original.”

4. You will fail to have a great career

In this talk, economics professor Larry Smith says, “You’re going to fail, because—because you’re not going to do it, because you will have invented a new excuse, any excuse to fail to take action….You’re afraid to pursue your passion. You’re afraid to look ridiculous. You’re afraid to try. You’re afraid you may fail. Great friend, great spouse, great parent, great career. Is that not a package? Is that not who you are? How can you be one without the other?”

He points out that you don’t have to choose between success in career and success in life. You can have both if you dare.

5. Let’s raise kids to be entrepreneurs

Business coach and mentor Cameron Herold points out that entrepreneurship is not something you learn in school.

The education system emphasizes “fitting in,” and entrepreneurship often requires breaking out of the mold. The most successful entrepreneurs did badly in school, and some were even diagnosed with mental disorders. Creativity and unconventional thinking is often stigmatized.

He says, “Kids, you can see these signs in kids. And what we’re doing is we’re giving them Ritalin and saying, “Don’t be an entrepreneurial-type. Fit into this other system and try to become a student.”

“Sorry, entrepreneurs aren’t students. We fast-track. We figure out the game.”

In this video, Cameron shares some great insight into how to be a successful entrepreneur, all of which he learned at a young age.

6. Measuring what makes life worthwhile

Hotelier and author Chip Conley explains that happiness is not a tangible object you can hold, but a state of being.

He says, “The reality is, in Western countries, quite often we do focus on the pursuit of happiness as if happiness is something that we have to go out—an object that we’re supposed to get or maybe many objects.”

Finding happiness in your work is found not in what you get in return, but the connections you make in the process. It is the satisfaction of knowing you have made a difference in someone’s life.

Anyone can be happy at work or in life if you can make a connection.

7. The happy secret to better work

Psychologist Shawn Achor says you have to strive to have positive psychology.

He says, “We’re finding it’s not necessarily the reality that shapes us, but the lens through which your brain views the world that shapes your reality. And if we can change the lens, not only can we change your happiness, we can change every single educational and business outcome at the same time.”

He explains that, “Your brain at positive is 31% more productive than your brain at negative, neutral or stressed.” You can attain more success and happiness by training your brain to be more positive.

He claims, “In just a two-minute span of time done for 21 days in a row, we can actually rewire your brain, ….to write down three new things that they’re grateful for for 21 days in a row,…their brain starts to retain a pattern of scanning the world not for the negative, but for the positive first.” Try this for yourself.

8. How to make work-life balance work

Author Nigel Marsh discusses how companies are making efforts to make the workplace more conducive to work-life balance, but in the end, people “have to be responsible for setting and enforcing the boundaries that we want in our life.”

He puts it in very simple terms, “Being more balanced doesn’t mean dramatic upheaval in your life. With the smallest investment in the right places, you can radically transform the quality of your relationships and the quality of your life.”

It is the little things that count rather than the grand gestures. Each day brings many opportunities to balance your work and life in little ways.

9. Why work doesn’t happen at work

Software developer and author Jason Fried explains why the typical office setup is not conducive to meaningful work. He states that frequent interruptions make it nearly impossible.

He says, “The real problems are what I like to call the M&Ms – the managers and the meetings. Those are the real problems in the modern office today. And this is why things don’t get done at work, it’s because of the M&Ms….And what you find is that, especially with creative people—designers, programmers, writers, engineers, thinkers—that people really need long stretches of uninterrupted time to get something done.”

To get meaningful work done, find a way to work remotely in an environment you find conducive. If it means going freelance, go for it. It may be the best choice you will ever make.

10. Dare to disagree

Entrepreneur and CEO Margaret Heffernan explains how constructive conflict can bring out the best in people.

She says, “It’s a fantastic model of collaboration—thinking partners who aren’t echo chambers….They saw it as thinking.” Do not be afraid to speak your mind and create conflict if it is something you feel strongly about. Expressing your opinions and challenging the status quo is the best way to bring about necessary change.

She says, “…when we dare to break that silence or when we dare to see and we create conflict, we enable ourselves and the people around us to do our very best thinking.”

Have these TED Talks inspired you to make a career transition and pursue your passion? A career coach can help you get there! Browse our directory of career coaches or request a personalized coach recommendation.

About the Author Stacey Marone

Stacey Marone is freelance writer and currently an editor at Scholaradvisor. She likes learning new languages and exploring the world as well as helping people to make their life easier.

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