4 TED Talks on Leading a Fulfilling Life and Leaving a Leadership Legacy


As we settle into this first quarter of 2017, many of us have already set ambitious plans for things we hope to accomplish this year. We’ve set goals, established benchmarks, and brainstormed practices that can help bring our dreams to life. Maybe we have a big project on the horizon, or we plan to ask for a raise, apply for a promotion, or buy a house. For these tangible near-term goals at least, the planning phase is perhaps (mostly) behind us and we’ve geared into the urgent, necessary work of execution.

How will you be remembered?

But as we focus our attention on the day-to-day tasks that can bring our short-term goals to fruition — it’s easy to lose sight of our bigger picture goals. No, not the smaller goals that can be simply marked as “done” or “case closed” — but the more substantial goals for which our work is never finished: goals for the kinds of people we want to be or become, the types of relationships we want to build, how we can leverage our talents to help other people, and the legacy we will leave when we are gone. As leaders, it’s important to be hyper-focused on specific achievements and business goals. But it’s equally important we don’t lose sight of the things that will define the people we are in an enduring way. How will you, and your leadership, be remembered? These four inspiring TED talks will empower you to look beyond your daily to-do list to continue to reach even higher, to contribute in a more fulfilling way, and to pursue your purpose with passion so that the legacy you leave will be positive and meaningful.

Clay Christensen on the dangers of investing in immediate gratification.

World-renowned management thinker and Harvard Business School professor, Clay Christensen, offers a poignant meditation on what makes a meaningful life. With a series of examples from life and business, he shows how the same misguided, shortsighted strategy that causes business to fail also causes humans to experience misery in their personal lives, instead of the fulfillment and happiness for which they strive.

Mel Robbins on forcing yourself to be uncomfortable.

Why do so many people not reach their dreams for living, leading, and leaving a legacy? Because, says no-nonsense life coach and speaker, Mel Robbins, in this tough-love TED Talk — the moment people change their routine in the necessary ways to achieve breakthrough, their brain pulls the “emergency brake.” Frankly, she argues, you’re never going to “feel like” getting out of your comfort zone. You have to force yourself — and she provides some helpful tips for how to do exactly that below.

David Brooks on balancing your two, warring selves.

New York Times commentator, David Brooks, offers a brief but eye-opening reflection on what you can do to marry your “two selves”: the one that values success and the one that seeks connection and community. Balancing the two is the trick to leading and living more meaningfully.

Amy Morin on taking control of your life.

Clinical Social Worker and Psychotherapist, Amy Morin, shares the lessons of mental strength that she learned through her own harrowing experiences with loss and grief. In this uplifting talk, she argues that no matter how many devastating challenges you face, you can still empower yourself to thrive in the face of adversity and reach your goals, as long as you avoid three kinds of destructive beliefs. Importantly, she says, “your world is what you make it.” Life will never be fair. But with mental strength, you can accomplish great things anyway, and leave an everlasting legacy. For more insights on mental strength, follow up this video with Morin’s “13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do.”

Have you watched a game-changing talk that transformed the way you lead and live? Share in the comments or tweet @DougConant with your must-watch videos on living life to the fullest and leaving a leadership legacy. 

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