5 Motivational TED Talks

Posted: Discover Career


Many of us know the draining feeling that results from a lack of motivation. Although this can occur in all aspects of life its impact can most be felt at work, where a lack of motivation can result in procrastination, which in turn can result in a substandard performance.  

We’ve always been inspired by TED Talks and these 5 are hugely helpful in encouraging motivation, which one inspires you the most?  

The Puzzle of Motivation

Career analyst Dan Pink claims that the traditional approach of motivating employees with promises of rewards or financial gain don’t actually work. Instead people need to have an intrinsic purpose, a desire to do things that matter to them. Pink focuses on the importance of autonomy; the need people have to direct their own work. Giving them this responsibility results in increased engagement and self-direction and produces a happier and motivated workforce.

Success, failure and the drive to keep creating

In 2014 writer Elizabeth Gilbert followed on from her 2009 TED talk Your Elusive Creative Genius. Her second talk was focused on how to stay motivated and creative in the face of failure. After the breakthrough success of her fourth book Eat, Pray, Love Gilbert was under pressure to deliver another bestseller and feared she would never again reach the same heights of success. In this talk she explains how she got her creative mojo back by connecting with the spirit of her pre-Eat, Pray, Love struggling writer self.  

Try something new for 30 days

This short but thought-provoking TED talk comes from Google employee Matt Cutts, who was inspired by maverick filmmaker Morgan Spurlock. Cutts encourages you to get yourself out of a rut by setting yourself small challenges, each 30 days in length. These could range from cycling to work to taking a photo each day. 30 days is a perfect length of time to allow a new habit to take hold, however the aim of this challenge is to shake-up your daily routine, a great approach if you are feeling bored or unmotivated.

The happy secret to better work  

In his TED Talk writer Shawn Achor questions the traditional life approach of continually setting and meeting goals. Many people believe that meeting a target is what motivates them. But when a goal is ticked off another one usually takes its place. This cycle can result in a lack of satisfaction and contentment. Anchor reverses this long-held approach by arguing that productivity doesn’t make you happy, happiness makes you productive.

How to succeed? Get more sleep

Media entrepreneur Arianna Huffington is a huge advocate of the powers of sleep. Sleep is a crucial ingredient for productivity yet, as we’ve previously explored, the average person in the UK sleeps for just 5 to 6 hours per night. Sleep deprivation can lead to mental blocks or a lack of ideas, which can result in a drop in motivation. Huffington’s short talk is highly convincing in persuading you to get more shut-eye, a small change that could have a big impact.


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