Great Ted Talks: Leadership – An Unofficial Guide with Words of Wisdom from 100 TED Speakers – Harriet Minter
Harriet Minter’s book, ‘Great TED Talks: Leadership: An Unofficial Guide with Words of Wisdom from 100 TED Speakers’, provides readers with an in-depth look into the minds of 100 of the world’s top TED speakers and what makes them successful leaders. The book provides a comprehensive overview of the topics discussed by the speakers, including business, science, technology, health, education, and more. It also includes inspirational quotes and practical advice from each speaker to help readers become better leaders and make a positive impact in the world.
Additionally, the book contains interviews and case studies that provide real-world examples of how to apply the lessons in the book. In short, this book provides readers with the tools and guidance they need to become successful and inspiring leaders.
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Preparation is Key
How long can you hold your breath underwater? David Blaine holds the world record at just over seventeen minutes, but when he set out to achieve that goal he was way off target. In his, literally breathtaking, talk the performer describes what motivated him to go for the world record and what he learned along the way.
All of Blaine’s work requires intense preparation—for this particular event he spent fifty-five minutes each morning practicing breath-holding techniques. This made him tired and ill, but he kept going because he knew the importance of preparation. His first attempt failed, but he came back and tried again.
How Failure Cultivates Resilience
What if failure wasn’t something to be feared, but something that was necessary to build resilience? Raphael Rose works with NASA—an organization whose motto is “Failure is not an option”—to look at the effect failure has on us and how we can recover from it.
Far from seeing failure as something to be avoided, Rose believes it is one of the greatest teachers we can have and the key to a more fulfilled life. Resilient individuals put themselves in situations where they might fail but where they also might grow—in other words, they go outside their comfort zone.
Aimee Mullins was born with a physical condition that resulted in both her lower legs being amputated. As a child she spent a lot of time in hospital doing physiotherapy, which she hated. Her attitude to the physio changed one day, however, when a doctor praised how strong she was and offered her $100 if she could break the elastic bands she had been using to do her exercises. Simply by praising her effort and reframing the goal, the doctor gave Mullins a completely different view on what she had to achieve.
What really struck Mullins, though, was how the doctor’s use of language changed her perception of herself from someone who wasn’t capable to someone who was strong and getting stronger.
You Can’t know Everything
There are roughly half a million hazardous objects floating in orbit around Earth, yet currently we track only around 1 percent of them, explains astrodynamicist Moriba Jah. Some are as small as a speck of paint, but when traveling at the right speed even these tiny fragments could cause untold damage to our infrastructure.
It would therefore seem like a good idea to have some sort of map that tracks all these objects, but as Jah explains, not only do we not have the technology to do that, but the information changes depending on who you talk to. The result is that we have a galaxy filled with very crowded space highways and no way of controlling the flow of traffic.
Lean in to Pain
Austin Eubanks survived the 1999 Columbine High School shooting. It left him with the question, “How do we define pain?” Is it just about the physical responses we feel, or is there an emotional element too? And why are we so keen to avoid it?
After the shooting, Eubanks was prescribed pain medication to treat the physical symptoms he was suffering, but he soon realized that they were much better at numbing his emotional pain. In fact, they were so good that when he tried to stop taking them, he couldn’t, and he became a drug addict.
Endure the pain instead of blunting it
Often, we can try to find a way around the difficult or painful problems, but when we go through the pain we experience growth. As Eubanks puts it, “By finding a way to endure through significant suffering, you can actually have meaningful development of personal character.” Our society pushes us to find quick fixes for tough issues, but true leadership means accepting that sometimes you have to go through dark times to get to the light at the end of the tunnel.
Hope Conquers All
You might have heard of the hero’s journey—a mythical look at how we overcome difficulties in our lives. For cancer survivor Suleika Jaouad, however, myths weren’t good enough. She needed an actual journey to help her move on from cancer.
Jaouad explains how being in the midst of a cancer crisis was easier for her to deal with than the aftermath. She was focused on surviving and beating cancer, but once it was gone, she felt lost. For many of us, being in a crisis situation gives us a goal to work toward and our adrenaline kicks in, but when the crisis has passed, we’re left exhausted and unsure of what to do next. As Jaouad puts it, “being cured is not where the work of healing ends. It’s where it begins.”
When we’ve been through a difficult or stressful situation, we may want to cling to safety and avoid being hopeful in case those hopes are dashed. On a 15,000-mile road trip, Jaouad learned the power of optimism. As leaders, we will often experience setbacks or failure, but to be able to lift our heads up, pull ourselves together, and try again, we have to have optimism—we have to believe that the best could happen even if the odds are against us.
When we have that, we start to feel enthusiasm for the world around us again and we’re ready for the next challenge. This “radical, dangerous hope,” as Jaouad describes it, is what propels us on to the next challenge and gives us the energy to keep fighting.