Inspiring TED Talks

Happiness, Success, Intelligence – These 3 ideas will change your career

Why are some people successful? Why do some come back stronger after failure and others do not? And, how can you adjust the parameters for your own success? Here are three groundbreaking insights from science that will change your entire career.

  1. The secret of happiness at work

Success makes you happy? No, says psychologist Shawn Achor. It is the other way around: happiness makes successful. But how does that work?

The initial situation:

Only 25% of all successful careers depend on an employee’s intelligence – as much as 75% depend on optimism, social networks and the ability to see stress as a challenge rather than as a threat.

The realization:

The formula harder work = more success = more satisfaction is wrong. “When satisfaction is on the other side of success, the brain never gets there,” says Achor. The brain is constantly changing its perception of success: Did you make a good sales deal? The next deal has to be even better! You were promoted to divisional director? Now you want to be a department manager!

So be more optimistic, demands Shawn. Then your intelligence, your creativity and your energy level will increase – and that is crucial for your professional success. The happiness hormone dopamine boosts your brain’s learning center – it’s 31% more productive when you’re happy (compared to the brain in a neutral or stressed state). So think positive – it’s worth it.

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  1. The mystery of motivation

Bonuses, commissions, company cars? Career analyst Dan Pink does not believe in traditional reward models. And explains what really drives people.

The initial situation:

Scientific findings are simply being ignored in the economy, according to Pink. Many studies have proven that extrinsic motivators, such as money incentives, work only within a narrow framework – namely, when a task requires purely mechanical skills. Once the subjects of several studies had to think creatively, their ability to problem solve was blocked by the prospect of reward. Moreover, the higher the rewards they were promised, the worse their results turned out to be.

The realization:

In order to motivate oneself or employees, intrinsic motivational factors have to be created – so the motivation has to come from within. For this to succeed, three things are important, says Pink:

  1. Autonomy, the urge to determine your own life
  2. Mastery, the desire to improve in a field
  3. Purpose, the need to do something meaningful

Pink’s advice: Give your employees autonomy – like the Atlassian company, which regularly gives its employees 24 hours a day for their own projects. Or Google, where employees can even spend 20% of their time on their own ideas. Sounds utopian, but the result speaks for itself. This model results in higher productivity, increased satisfaction and a lower rate of turnover.

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  1. The belief in one’s own ability to learn

Have you ever been confronted with a problem that seemed unsolvable? Carol Dweck explores the “growth mindset,” the idea that we can build capabilities in our brains to identify and solve problems.

The initial situation:

Carol Dweck, a professor of psychology at Stanford University, has been researching the way children handle problems. While some felt frustrated and paralyzed by failures, others valued the challenge – they believed they could improve and learn from their mistakes.

The realization:

Tasks that cannot be solved immediately should be appreciated, demands Dweck. Because those are the ones where the neurons in the brain create new connections. Anyone who sets himself a task and makes progress will therefore become more intelligent. Remember, the next time you want to resign. In order for children, employees, or yourself to develop a more positive attitude to failure, they recommend not rewarding results but efforts, strategies, and improvements.

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