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7 TED Talks To Change How We Look At Ourselves


For so many of us, the past two years have prompted us to ask significant questions about our lives. Are we in the right jobs or careers? Are we living to our highest potential? Are we spending our time—and our lives—the right way?

I recently took a deep dive into TED and TEDx talks that tackle those questions. If you’re looking for a reset in your own life or simply a spark for self-reflection, these talks provide it. Whether you’re trying to gain control of your time, find your passion, or make a more significant difference to others, these are seven of my favorites.

Watch them for yourself, and I hope that, like me, you’ll walk away inspired, fired up to see the world in a new way, and ready to take positive action.

Almost all of us feel too busy these days—and we think we know the reason: too many meetings, emails, and more.

However, Dorie Clark—Duke University professor and author of the bestseller The Long Game—shares research suggesting that there may be other factors that keep us trapped in our endless loop of busyness. Clark believes we’ll only be able to break free once we understand these often-hidden factors. She provides a powerful talk that helps us get clear on what matters.

Talking about money is one of the last workplace taboos in Western society. However, David Burkus, author of Under New Management, argues that we must break down these barriers and discuss salary at work.

Taking this step makes for a more transparent and equal workplace and allows us to spend less time worrying about others and more time focused on self-improvement. This talk has even more resonance post-pandemic, in the face of “The Great Resignation” and so much job turnover.

From an early age, we’re asked, “What are you passionate about?” Most don’t realize that passion isn’t a plan; it’s a feeling, and feelings change.

This talk by author Terri Trespicio, who recently released a book on the same topic, helps liberate us from the oppressive belief that we have to find our one overriding passion and can’t do anything meaningful until we do. Instead, she gives us permission to focus on solving the problems that matter in our lives now—with the knowledge that passion often follows from engagement and mastery.

Here’s the funny thing about our schedules. We all feel busy. However, when there’s an emergency, we make time for it. That reality implies something important. We have more control and flexibility than we imagine; we just don’t exercise it.

Time management expert Laura Vanderkam shows us that it’s not that we don’t have enough time—it’s that we aren’t prioritizing the right things, and we can change that.

What are you the best at in the world? How can you distinguish yourself in a world full of noise and competition? That’s a question with which many of us grapple.

Entrepreneur and author Mike Michalowicz provides a helpful frame. Mike argues that each of us is already the world’s best, provided we lean into our authentic selves and talents.

It seems like such an innocuous and kind question: “How can I help?” But author Laura Gassner Otting says it’s the wrong one to be asking. Often, we’re limited in our perspective and driven by our egos.

Instead, she says, we can get better results—for ourselves, others, and the world—by shifting from asking “How can I help?” to “What needs to happen?”

We’ve all probably been there, right? Someone has a problem, and your first inclination is to offer advice—whether that’s what they’re looking for or (more often) not. That’s a mistake, says Michael Bungay Stanier, author of The Advice Trap.

When we offer unsolicited advice, we’re silently telling someone they can’t have the answer without us. In the process, we lose the connection to our humanity, empathy, and sense of vulnerability. Instead of offering advice, Bungay Stanier urges us to stay curious a bit longer.

Expert Voices Enable Us To Process Our Thinking

It’s always a good idea to take a step back and reflect on our lives. Frequently, however, a thoughtful voice can help us see how we can better align our values with our actions.

The seven talks listed above can provide a fulcrum for that reflection. They all offer ideas and techniques that are likely to change how you think about yourself and act in the world. Watch one of them—or all of them!—today and enjoy seeing your perspective shift in real-time.

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