TED Conversations

Kaleb Roberts

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Have you realized your potential?

How did you do it?
Did you just one day wake up, work hard and suddenly you're at the top? Or are you struggling every day, not realizing it, sitting at a desk, watching these TED video's and praying for a better life.

If I may ask, what are your individual stories behind your passion and potential?
Was it starting a company in you're basement, knowing that you could do something better? Or inside a multi-billion dollar company starting in the mail room, then suddenly working on the thirtieth floor?

People's stories, especially on topics like this, really really interest me. I want to learn from them, so maybe I can realize my potential. Any thoughts?


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  • Jan 8 2013: well first advice would be to beware of people and especially publications that try to tell you how to realise your potential. your potential is mostly indeterminate, and if anything is able to influence your potential it's usually others. i can tell you what has been working for me though:

    strive for efficiency - improvement always comes about through trying to get more out of less, say making customers happier without increasing the workload. this raises what you are able to achieve and what you will next be able to achieve.

    be dubious - any idea you have about how to make something better will by definition be amateur, because it's new. spend at least a year mulling over and trying to find holes in your plans, so that when you try them they have the best chance of success and you are less likely having to flounder to fix a problem you hadn't foreseen. so many people who "know" they could do something better actually just don't have the information to understand that their ideas are terrible.

    don't ask - other people are also dubious, it's just a part of human biology, and they don't have the same experience. plenty of secretaries' great ideas have been shot down by a boss who's never spent a day as a secretary! be careful with though, of course. start small, and work up to bolder ideas as your standing grows - it's easier to forgive a $10,000 failure to a salesman with a 5 year history of consistent success than an upstart who hasn't yet landed a major deal. it's unfortunate, but clout matters.
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      Jan 9 2013: " If anything is able to influence your potential it's usually others " - Ben I feel this is one of the best statements I have come across - ever!!
      • Jan 9 2013: these days it's not up to the teachers, it's set by education departments, psychologists, principals (who no longer teach, remember!) and school boards.

        it's interesting you chose that talk. ken robinson is great speaker, and his studies in english and drama mean that's hardly surprising, but he hasn't taught a single class in his life so it's also hardly surprising that he has no idea what he's talking about. everything he has to say sounds great but is detached from reality. it's people like him who have no experience in education but feel compelling to dictate what should be done that are the problem. creativity is important yes and ken mentions how creative all those TED speakers were, completely ignoring the fact that they all had a decidedly non-creative education which gave the the knowledge and skills they would need to then be able to take the next step creatively.

        i myself love kids designs of things like buildings, they always come up with imaginative ways to make skyscrapers that look like giraffes and such, but of course they couldn't actually be built because things like gravity and shear stress don't vary according to how creative the builder is, and things like elevator shafts and plumbing need to be taken into account. learn about the world first, then apply creativity. there's a reason the phrase "starving artist" exists in the english language.

        perhaps you can think of a situation where suppressing a student's creativity would help them reach their potential?

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