Tag Archives: ted

Study the Not So Average

7 May

Let me start off by saying that I’m a huge fan of these Ted Talks.

I saw this one today and thought I’d share.

Shawn Achor, CEO of Good Think, Inc., researches and teaches about positive psychology.

Positive psychology… It seems to be a topic of great interest lately.

There are thousands of books teaching people things like how to be happy… how to make the best out of really crappy situations… that your attitude determines your success.

Well it does, but that’s not what I want to write about at the moment.

Achor makes many great points in his talk, but the one that I really loved was his emphasis on the fact that we need to stop focusing on the average (start the video at about 4 mins).

You see, when it comes to business and success, it’s no secret that some people and some companies are more successful than others.

When I think about what I want from life and what I want from my job, I realize that I want a lot. I want to be passionate about my work and I want to make a difference doing something that I love.

It bothers me, though, that when I express this, some people tell me that it’s unrealistic. They tell me that I’m an idealist, that work is work and that’s all it is.

And then I argue and I say it’s not true. I say that Steve Jobs was passionate about his work and a whole bunch of other crazy and successful people get paid to do what they love.

And then they say, fine, that may be true…but only a FEW people really get to do that. Those people are the exceptions. Those people are the outliers.

They then tell me that I’m NOT the exception and that I should therefore focus on finding a job that:

a. pays well

b. doesn’t make me feel like consuming a whole bottle of alcohol when I get home

That’s life and that’s what an average job is.

Well that’d be great… If I was okay with average.

The point that Achor makes in his talk is that rather than focusing on what is average, rather than encouraging everyone to live an average life, we should be learning from those people that HAVE been the exceptions. We should be studying them and figuring out what they did differently that made them so successful.

People like Steve Jobs and Oprah, yes, they’re probably the exceptions. I get that. But they OBVIOUSLY did something right. And so, if I choose to be passionate about my work, and if I desire to live a fulfilling life, I’m going to study people that achieved those goals. Because they’re my goals…those are the goals that I aspire to reach.

Think about it. If we only study the mediocre, what do we really learn? How to be mediocre? How lovely.

Achor makes it clear…

“If we study what is merely average, we will remain merely average.”

So let’s study the crazy ones. It’d be crazy for us not to.

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