6 inspirational TED talks to fuel your self-development

By Issariya Morgan

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The new year offers the perfect opportunity to review our self-development and call into question our established patterns of behaviour.

These rare moments offer the opportunity to manifest meaningful changes. Yes, the new year is an imagined space in time, but the psychological aspect of it allows us to visualise ourselves according to our ideals, and to project that image into the future.

Such visualisations are a powerful instrument for creating real changes, motivating us to step into our better selves.  It’s a golden opportunity for self-development – but how many of us actually take full advantage of this potential?

This year, let’s stop saying ‘not yet’ to the things we really want to do. Harness the psychological power of the new year to fuel your self-development, and embrace the goals that drive you forwards – no matter how big or small. 

We’ve rounded up 6 inspirational TED talks to get you started, ranging from practical self-help to big ideas for the future. Tune in to these motivational speeches for an inspiring start to 2019. 

Why saying ‘yes’ to everything will power your self-development

Producer and screenwriter Shonda Rhimes talks about the life-changing power of one little word: yes.

She speaks from the heart about what it means to be a modern working ‘titan’, working around the clock to bring purpose to her life, while delivering a staggering 70 hours of television to the world. 

But burnt out from doing what she loved the most – working –  Shonda decided something had to change. This led her to a year of saying yes to everything, setting out on a new course of action that would bring the ‘hum’ of inspiration back into her life.

Motivational speeches like this make vital listening for all creatives out there.

Read more: 10 ways to develop your skills with adventure travel

Get comfortable with being uncomfortable

Nothing breathes fresh air into the new year like this TED talk from self-professed trouble-maker Luvvie Ajayi. She tackles the uncomfortable truths in society, how terrifying it can be to speak up – but ultimately, how necessary it is to do so.  

As she puts it, speaking the truth is like jumping out of an aeroplane to go skydiving, and experiencing that initial feeling of falling through the air. It may seem like the most terrifying thing at the time, but once you’re soaring through the sky over earth, you realise how vital it was, and how astonishing the consequences can be.

As she puts it: telling the truth should not be a revolutionary act, but in a system of injustice and oppression, your silence serves no one. Learning how to get comfortable with being uncomfortable is a crucial milestone on the path to self-development. 

Read more: The 5-second rule can change your life

The little risks you take can increase your luck

Why do some people seem luckier than others? Is it purely random, appearing to bless some and evade others? Tina Seelig argues that there’s nothing random about luck – it’s something that we can cultivate through taking small everyday risks that take you out of your comfort zone.

As she says, children do this all the time. They go from someone who doesn’t ride a bike to someone who does, in the space of a few hours. It’s about channelling that childlike daring into our adult lives. In fact, returning to our childlike instinct is exactly what we need to fuel the self-development in our adult lives. 

Whether it’s facing up to your fear of failure and tackling a new project, or simply saying hello to the person next to you on the bus, what seems like ‘luck’ is merely the logical consequence of breaking out of the comfort zone and opening up new horizons.

The gift and power of emotional courage

Susan David probes the way we perceive emotions, and how societal beliefs about ‘good’ and ‘bad’ emotions could be hindering our wellbeing and self-development. 

‘Positivity has become a new form of moral correctness… It’s a tyranny of positivity,’ she argues. Acknowledging our negative emotions in an honest manner is fundamental to confronting the true nature of life – and a cornerstone to building resilience and true happiness.  

If we listen carefully to our emotions, we find that they contain vital signals to the things we care about. Tapping into this wellspring of inner knowledge is an essential part of personal growth, allowing us to build pathways to our better selves.

Read more: Plastic isn’t fantastic: how to be a more eco-friendly traveller

In praise of slowness

The Western world is obsessed with speed: ‘faster is better, busier is best.’ But this aggressively dynamic approach to work and life is taking its toll on everything from our relationships to the environment.

As Carl Honoré puts it, we’re rushing through lives in the fast lane, filling our time with distractions to gloss over the deeper questions. But by slowing down, people do everything better, from the quality of work we produce to the love we nurture with others.

It is only through slowing down that we can assess our self-development and see things with fresh perspective.

A kinder, gentler philosophy of success

Alain de Botton eloquently makes the case for a kinder, more empathetic society. He speaks about the failures of meritocracy – how the societal narrative of success can lead to the belief that the disadvantaged deserve their misfortune. 

Compellingly, he stresses the need to question where our ideas about success and failure come from, and whether they are ever truly our own.

Viewing our success as a small part of a wider picture allows us to build stronger communities based on empathy. Our own self-development feeds into the development of those around us.

This story is part of Flash Pack’s No More Not Yets campaign. Our mission is to eradicate two powerful words that can stop you achieving your dreams: “not yet”. The not yet seen, not yet swum, not yet sat in the suns. Not yet met, not yet tried, not yet climbed, braved or conquered. What’s your Not Yet? Find out more here.

Feeling inspired? Here are 3 trips to fuel your self-development:

Expand your horizons in Morocco

A man leading three camels across the Sahara Desert

From navigating the rippling dunes of the Sahara Desert to seeking out the secrets of Marrakesh, our trip to Morocco is guaranteed to blow you away.

Get stuck in

Chase the Northern Lights in Iceland

Northern lights

Absorb the magic of the wilderness in Iceland: soak up the ethereal Northern Lights and sink into the thermal waters of volcanic lagoons.

Take me away

Unwind in beautiful Bali

Discover a WWII shipwreck, snorkel through underwater forests of coral reef and ascend a live volcano just in time for sunrise. Bali is truly epic.

Dive in

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