A Combined Effort

Shawn Achor's Big Potential tells us how building relationships with positive influencers can help you get closer to your goals

Published 3 years ago on Oct 27, 2018 2 minutes Read

In this book, I describe eight original research projects I have conducted with others as well as cutting-edge research from the academics that unites neuroscience, psychology, and network analysis, to shape the new field of positive systems research. But I know you did not come to this book looking simply for a review of research; there are better books for that. Instead, you want things you can start to implement today. So I have spent past three years crafting a practical approach to Big Potential based on this science and my work at NASA, the NFL, the White House, and elsewhere, as well as my conversations with highly successful people, including Will Smith, Oprah Winfrey, and Michael Strahan, who are living the principles of Big Potential.

This path consists of five stages, what I call the SEEDS of Big Potential: SURROUND yourself with a Star System of Positive Influencers. EXPAND your power by helping others lead from every seat. ENHANCE your resources by becoming a Prism of Praise. DEFEND the system against negative attacks. And SUSPEND the gains by fueling the Virtuous Cycle. Seeds are the perfect metaphor for this research, because a seed cannot grow alone, without the help of the sun, soil, and water. In the same way, you can grow your potential, but you cannot grow it alone. The biggest growth is achieved when you tap into the potential of those around you.

We can no longer be content competing for the scraps of Small Potential; we must seek new frontiers of human potential and invite others to follow.  A challenging world demands that we put the force of others back into formula. And it all starts by finding the hidden connections between flashing bugs, nudity at Harvard, featherless chickens, and an awkward dance with Oprah.

In an incredible research published in the Journal Of Experimental Social Psychology, the researchers found that if you are looking at a hill and judging how steep it is, the mere presence of social support around you transforms your perception. In fact, if you look at a hill standing next to someone you consider to be a friend, the hill looks 10 to 20 percent less steep than if you were facing that hill alone. That is a stunning finding. Perception of your objective, physical world is transformed by including others in your pursuit of achievement. This makes evolutionary sense. Other people provide resources and support. So, mentally and physically, mountains seem more climbable, successes more achievable, and obstacles more surmountable with others beside us.

This is an extract from Shawn Achor's Big Potential published by Currency