14 TED Talks That’ll Inspire You To Have Your Best Career

November 1, 2017

No cliches, just good advice.

When it comes to career advice, I’ve heard it all.

By ‘heard it all’ I mean the trite, unsolicited tips people dish out which regularly contradict one another.

For example, it all comes down to luck; but also, it’s about who you know.  Fake it ‘till you make it; but you should be authentic. Don’t put your eggs all in one basket; but if you want to get ahead, you need to become a specialist in your field.

Oh, and it’s not about whether you win or lose, it’s about how you play the game. But you know, obviously, you’re supposed to win.

This is where TED talks come in. To me, finding a new talk is the equivalent of discovering a TV show that isn’t the worst, or a restaurant that just may become my favorite, or even a new coat that would match my outfit. It’s something small, but inspiring.

In the realm of career tips, TED is pretty much the Anthony Robbins of the self-motivation world (FYI: Robbins is also a regular TED speaker). The advice is regularly refreshingly honest and practical, and always delivered by unique, inspiring individuals.

The following iconic career focused talks will help you discover your passion, get over your excuses, manage your work-life balance, and turn stress into a positive. So if you’re ready to be your best, most brilliant self and start the career of your dreams, grab your earphones and prep for some seriously motivational lunchtime listening…

1. Why you will fail to have a great career, Larry Smith

This economist is surprisingly funny; in a self deprecating, doomsday type of way. And yet, his message hits hard when he talks about all the excuses we tell ourselves, which prevent us from finding our passion and having a great career.

2. On being wrong, Kathryn Schultz

As a staff writer at the New Yorker, Kathryn Schulz spent years thinking about being wrong. Sure, we know everyone makes mistakes, but on a personal level, we don’t like to admit when we are wrong. Most poignantly, Schulz challenges the idea that, to succeed, we can’t be wrong and must become perfectionists.

3. The happy secret to better work, Shawn Achor

We’ve all been told if we simply work hard, we’ll be successful. And of course, if we’re successful, we’ll be happy. But, says Achor, our brains don’t actually work this way. In reality, many people aren’t happy in their work and yet experience great joy outside their nine to fives. This talk has the key, plus, it’s hilarious to listen to.

4. Five ways to kill your dreams, Bel Pesce

There are at least five damaging myths we believe that keep us from reaching our potential. One big one is blaming others; but Pesce says if we don’t achieve what we set out to do, it’s no one’s fault but our own. This talk is the straight talk you need to kick your ass into gear.

5. Grit: The power of passion and perseverance, Angela Duckworth

In this talk, author Duckworth examines our society’s obsession with talent, then goes on to suggest that, actually, to achieve success in our careers, talent isn’t important. What is? It’s something called ‘grit’.

6. How to make work-life balance work, Nigel Marsh

While we’re off having the best career ever, eventually we notice other aspects of our lives falling to the side. There are lots of widely promoted techniques for getting this balance back, but Marsh says wearing casual clothes to the office on Fridays and joining the gym aren’t really addressing the issue of work-life balance. at all. His solutions are ground-breaking, and his delivery is deadset hilarious.

7. Your elusive creative genius, Elizabeth Gilbert

Once upon a time, people believed you were either born an artistic genius, or you weren’t. In this talk, Gilbert postulates that every one of us has an elusive genius quality hidden within us, waiting to be teased out. By the end, you’ll be moved, inspired, and reaching for your art box.

8. Why some of us don’t have one true calling, Emilie Wapnick

Have you ever felt that pressure to find one thing you like enough to do for the rest of your life? That pressure grows and gets worse as we get older. We’re expected to choose and specialize in one thing, but as it turns out, says Wapnick, not all of us are wired that way. And that’s actually okay. If you relate, you’ll love this talk.

9. What makes us feel good about our work?, Dan Ariely

Contrary to popular belief, money is not everyone’s main motivation for going to work each day. This talk explores the power of doing meaningful work, versus doing work that’s financially motivated. Ariely suggests it’s actually more important than we expect, and holds the key to ultimate career joy.

10. A kinder, gentler philosophy of success, Alain de Botton

It’s as unlikely to become Kardashian-level rich and famous today, as it was several hundred years ago to rise to the ranks of the French aristocracy. And yet, if you log onto any of your social media feeds you’ll be quickly met with motivational quotes arguing otherwise: ‘Anything is possible!’, ‘If you can dream it you can do it!’, ‘Reach for the stars!’. De Botton challenges this idea, suggesting a gentler career outlook embracing the idea of being average and doing away with continual self-pressure. He’s awfully convincing, and refreshingly inspiring.

11. You body language may shape who you are, Amy Cuddy

If you’ve ever studied body language, chances are you’re familiar with the idea of power poses. Amy Cuddy is something of a guru when it comes to them, and goes into detail on how to harness them to your advantage at work, as well as explaining how different types of body language are perceived in the workplace, and how you can exploit them to your ultimate career advantage.

12. How to find work you love, Scott Dinsmore

Studies suggest roughly 80 percent of people don’t enjoy their work, (depressing, no?) and, if you’re one of that majority group, Dinsmore wants to ask you this: why are you doing the work you’re doing? This is a talk to guide you through the intense soul-searching required to find something you’re truly passionate about.

13. How to speak so that people listen, Julian Treasure

Negativity, gossip, exaggeration, complaining. These are a few of the ‘deadly sins’ we’re all guilty of from time to time. Though they don’t seem like such a big deal at the times we call upon them, after listening to this talk, you’ll see how refraining from them can result in more powerful communication that people will actually listen to.

14. How to make stress your friend, Kelly McGonigal

Most people believe stress is bad for your health; affecting your personal life and career. Mcgonigal did too, but she recently changed her mind after discovering how stress is only detrimental to health when we believe it’s bad for us. Now, she’s all about changing the way we think about stress, instead of obliterating it from our lives, which, let’s face it, is pretty much impossible.

Images and media via ted.com and pexels.com.

Comment: What;s your best piece of career advice you’ve ever been given?

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