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 “Look for someone who is already successful in your chosen field or someone who has created the kind of life you want to live”.

These are wise words from Tony Robbins, one of the most renowned inspirational life coaches.  

Having said that, it is easier now than ever in this internet age to find role models. One of my favourite ways of learning from the best is to head to YouTube and watch people share their life’s wisdom on Ted Talks.

7 Amazing Ted Talks on YouTube to Inspire Your Personal Growth Journey

For those who do not know what Ted Talks are, these are influential videos from expert speakers on almost all topics, from science to business to global issues. I came to know about Ted Talks during my undergraduate days, and have since regularly gone to this platform to get inspiration on days when I am running low on juice.

Because there are so many Ted Talks available now, it is hard to know where to start. Below are 9 of the best Ted Talks on YouTube that I believe are going to inspire and change the way you view life. Some of these are so good I have played them over and over again.

Here we go…

The Power of Vulnerability | Brené Brown

Brené Brown is a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work. She has spent more than a decade studying vulnerability, courage, authenticity and shame.

Learnings: We (human beings) are wired for connection. However, shame tends to hold us away from connection. In other words, “is there something about me that if other people know it or see it, that I won’t be worthy of connection”.

Those who did find connection, had a few common traits, most notably authenticity, courage, compassion, and vulnerability.

How many of us crave connection and a sense of belonging, but are struggling to feel “good enough” or worthy of love?

The way to live is to let ourselves be seen; to love with our whole hearts even if there’s no guarantee; to practice gratitude and joy, and to believe that “I am enough”

Other resources: Brené Brown has given many other thoughts on shame and vulnerability. The most notable one being “Listening to Shame”.

If you are a reader, I highly suggest reading Brené Brown’s insights. My recommended book to start with is The Gifts of Imperfection, where Brené writes about letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embrace who we are. #selflove

How to find work you love | Scott Dinsmore

Scott Dinsmore, in his own words, was an Explorer, Adventurer or Experimenter on a mission to change the world by helping people find what excites them and build a career around the work only they can do.

Unfortunately, Scott Dinsmore passed away during a tragic mountain climbing accident on Mount Kilimanjaro at 33 years old. This talk is his legacy to the world.

This was THE talk that seeded the idea that I do not need to work for my resume or in a soul-sucking job for the rest of my life. Rather, I can work towards my passion and build a career around it (and that’s exactly what I am doing right now even if it’s baby steps at a time!).

If you hate the job you are working at, or are unhappy about your career, invest the next 15 minutes to listen to this. Once you change your mindset, you will start to believe that following your passion and making a living out of it may somehow be possible.

“Taking jobs to build up your resume, is the same as saving up sex for old age” – Warren Buffet

Learnings: Scott gives us a simple framework to find passionate work

  1. Become a self-expert – understand yourself, your strengths, values, experiences to define what success means to us as individual
  2. Do the impossible – everything was impossible until someone did it. Make incremental pushes to show yourself something is possible.
  3. The best way to do it is to surround yourself with passionate people.

Other resources: If you got inspired to find work you love, check out the Live Your Legend website founded by Scott Dinsmore to help people find their “why”.

Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are | Amy Cuddy

Amy Cuddy is a social psychologist who talks about how nonverbal expressions of power affect people’s feelings, behaviours, and hormone levels.

Learnings: Adopting body postures associated with dominance and power (by opening up your body, or “power posing”) for as little as two minutes can increase testosterone, decrease cortisol, increase appetite for risk, and cause better performance in job interviews.

Learn how you are influenced by your own body language in this eye-opening talk.

 “Don’t fake it till you make it. Fake it till you become it.”

Reflections: Believe it or not, I can say that power posing really worked, at least based on anecdotal scenarios where I really needed to feel more empowered than I really was. Since hearing this Amy’s talk, I have applied power posing to scenarios, including those when I

  • Was the only lady in a boardroom filled with men, or
  • Was minutes away from a public speaking engagement, or
  • Needed to make a point in a managerial debate

Power posing helped me quite visibly in these cases to feel less fearful and actually become more assertive.

Grit: the power of passion and perseverance | Angela Lee Duckworth

Angela Lee Duckworth had a high-flying job as a consultant but left that to become a teacher. She found that grit, rather than IQ, was a better indicator of successful students. With this insight, she went on to become a psychologist and research on the topic of grit.

Learnings: A significant predictor of success is grit. Grit is defined here as

  • Passion and perseverance for very long term goals
  • Having stamina
  • Sticking with your future and working hard to make the future a reality
  • Living life like it’s a marathon, not a sprint

However, talent does not make you gritty. Grit is usually unrelated, or inversely related to talent. Watch on to see how you can develop grittiness for success.

Other resources: Angela wrote about her findings on grit in her book of the same name. Learn about grit and how to develop it in the long term.

Why We Do What We Do | Tony Robbins

Tony Robbins, is one of the world’s most renowned life and business coaches. He is known for his seminars and self-improvement books including Unlimited Power and Awaken the Giant Within – both of which are I highly recommend if you want to take action and change your perspective on life.

This is an old one, but still one of the best Ted Talks I’ve heard.

“Lack of resources is not the defining factor, but the resourcefulness is”

 Learnings: In this talk, Tony Robbins explains the invisible forces that shape our thoughts, behaviours and actions.

  1. State – emotional or physical
  2. Our model of the world – meaning, emotion and action

Every human being is driven by the same 6 needs. However, we value and prioritize them differently, and have different beliefs about what it means to satisfy those needs. This then drives us to do what we do and determines where our lives go.

Other Resources: For those of you who have already read Tony Robbins books and want to further your journey to achieve your fullest potential, has really powerful courses that you may want to explore on his website. In case you are unsure of where to start, take the quiz to see what course is most relevant for you.

Why We Have Too Few Women Leaders | Sheryl Sandberg

As someone who believes in women leadership, Sheryl Sandberg has been one of my earliest inspiration to become a woman who dares and wants to lead in the working world of men (especially being born in an Asian country).

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a feminist. But being a woman with ambition, I always felt like a misfit in school until I came across women like Sheryl Sandberg who dared to speak up.

There are some points Sheryl Sandberg gets exactly right with this talk:

  • Women are not making it to the top of any profession anywhere in the world, whether in the corporate, public or non-profit sector
  •  Women face harder choices between professional vs personal fulfilment. In turn, women face internal obstacles that hold us back
  • Women’s compensation still lags behind men

She highlights 3 tips for women who do want to stay at the workforce:

  1. Sit at the table
  2. Make your partner a real partner
  3. Don’t leave before you leave

Other resources: I actually bought Sheryl Sandberg’s book called “Lean in” the moment it was published. The book speaks of the same topic on women leadership, albeit in much greater detail – recommended for women who need a little advice from someone who has made it in her career and family.

Sheryl Sandberg also wrote another book – “Option B” – on building resilience and dealing with adversity, after suffering the sudden death of her husband.

What makes a good life? Lessons from the longest study on happiness | Robert Waldinger

Psychiatrist Robert Waldinger is the director of a 77+-year-old study on adult development and has unprecedented access to data on what makes people truly happy.

Learnings: In this talk, he shares three important lessons learned from the study to build a fulfilling life. The healthiest and happiest people were those who invested in relationships with friends, family and community. It’s not just the number of relationships, but the quality of relationships that matters.

“..it wasn’t their middle-aged cholesterol levels that predicted how they were going to grow old; it was how satisfied they were in their relationships… “

Other resources: Robert Waldinger also has a blog that focuses on the good life.

If you have watched all of these talks and are hungry for more, do check out Ted Talk’s channel for inspiration.