The Story So Far...
I am dedicating myself to applying some of the inspirational and insightful TED talks that I have been watched over the last four years. Or, to use two of the talks, trying something new for 30 days Matt Cutts and immersing myself in a topic because changing your behaviour can change your mind A J Jacobs.
How am I doing it?
Over the course of one year I will apply the advice, lessons, insights and concepts of TED talks into my life. The talks fall into a number of categories:
- Concept talks which inform the entire project.
- Activity talks which I will apply for 30 days - these activity periods might include multiple talks, where they share a similar message and would work well together.
- Opportunity talks where I cannot be guaranteed that something would occur that would allow me to use the lessons in the talk, for example, Aimee Mullins: The opportunity of adversity.
- Project talks which are a topic that could be applied as a discreet project and not something that would work as a 30 day activity.
The Nuts and Bolts
The idea is that I am taking the parts of the talks that a) I feel have the most resonance for me and my life and b) are able to actually be applied within a relatively short timeframe. I have written a post acknowledging the completely subjective nature of this process and the fact that I am not saying that what I have taken is the speaker's "message" but what resonated with me - as misinformed and misguided as it might be.
I will start a new Activity talk on the 1st and 15th of each month - launching it the Sunday before and providing updates, insights and reflections throughout the process.
For anyone who decides to follow this potentially ill-conceived experiment with my sanity, I would appreciate honest feedback on the blog posts. I plan on making all comments visible, without editing, unless you ask me not to or I think that they are too offensive to include (that is not a challenge!).
So that is the outline of My Year of TED project. I expect that it will be a complete mixture of emotions throughout the year, and I will try to be as honest as I can on what I learn about myself throughout this process. I'm really excited about the whole thing, and quite scared at the same time.
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Based on Nigel Marsh: How to make work-life balance work this activity will see me try to pull together all of my learnings from the last eleven months to design my perfect day.
Reflection: I have an outline for my achievable perfect day, most of it is not very surprising but there were a few things that I did make me stop and think. A great way to wrap the project up, I think.
Based on Karen Armstrong: Let's revive the Golden Rule, Chade-Meng Tan: Everyday compassion at Google and Daniel Goleman on Compassion this is a simple activity about trying to become a more compassionate person, and hopefully bringing some other people along on the journey.
Reflection: I think that this is an area that I will always be able to improve upon, but I was generally pretty happy with the achievements from this activity.
Mainly based on Philip Zimbardo: The psychology of time but also influenced by Joachim de Posada: Don't eat the marshmallow! This activity is about trying to alter my time perspective so I am less past-negative and more future oriented.
Reflection: this was a wonderful activity to do after the negativity from activities 16 and 17. I really think that it has helped me reframe some aspects of my past, but there is still a way to go.
Based on two talks from Brené Brown (The power of vulnerability & Listening to shame) and Eve Ensler: happiness in body and soul. This activity is about embracing vulnerability, having the courage to be more authentic, trying to reconnect with important people from my past, showing myself more compassion and understanding my truth so I can more fully own it.
Reflection: By focusing on self-compassion, being courageously authentic, trying to connect and understanding my truth I have taken a really big step closer to knowing myself a lot better and being a little kinder to that person.
Based on two talks by Kathryn Schulz - On being wrong and Don't regret, regret. This activity is about being more open to the concept of being wrong, finding a better way to think about being wrong and finding a way to live with my regrets a little more easily.
Reflection: This was a really difficult activity that put me in quite a bad place. There's only so much time anyone should spend focusing on all of the times they are wrong and their regrets.
Based on three talks Alain de Botton: A kindler, gentler philosophy of success, Barry Schwartz on the paradox of choice and Sheena Iyengar on the art of choosing. This activity is about about better understanding what is important to help me improve my choices (and my feelings about them); limiting my choices to improve my satisfaction with the decision; and being more aware of how I make them, and the random things that might influence me.
Reflection: I think that we have far too much choice and too many options, which leads me to abrogate my decision making at times. But at least I understand what success looks like for me a little better.
Based on two talks Joshua Foer: Feats of memory anyone can do and Daniel Kahneman: The riddle of experience vs memory. This activity is about learning memory techniques to improve my ability to remember names, shopping lists and other random information. More importantly though it is about becoming a person who remembers to remember.
Reflection: Learning memory techniques was great, but I think the value of this was being more attentive to remembering in general.
Mainly based on two talks: Barry Schwartz on our loss of wisdom and David Logan on tribal leadership. This activity is about trying to improve my leadership skills, which I thought would be good to coincide with starting a movement, but will mainly be applied to my workplace.
Reflection: This activity has made me more conscious of the leadership role that I have and how I should be using that to improve things in my workplace. Also helped me understand a little more of my leadership style, which includes Susan Cain: The power of introverts.
Based on two talks: Derek Sivers: How to start a movement; and Seth Godin on the tribes we lead. This will see me try to lead the start of a movement. I have chosen to start something called Challenge your preconceptions, to encourage everyone to be more aware of their preconceptions and stereotypes and to select one to learn more about. A week in I've realised that I should add Susan Cain: The power of introverts as a talk for this activity, since I am really having to embrace what limited extroverted traits I have.
Reflection: This is one where you need to read the full post, too much about failure to put into one sentence.
Based on Lakshmi Pratury on letter-writing. A seemingly simple activity to connect with family and friends through the lost art of letter writing. I'm sure that it will be far more difficult than it seems in theory.
Reflection: This was a very challenging but extremely worthwhile activity. The power of the handwritten word should never be underestimated.
Based on three talks: Chimamanda Adichie: The danger of a single story; Bill Strickland makes change with a slideshow; and Derek Sivers: Weird, or just different?. This activity is about challenging preconceptions and making sure I'm not guilty of judging by a single story.
Reflection: This activity allowed me to become more aware of how much I catgeorise and judge people into stereotypes. I think that this is something everyone should be more aware of, and Activity 13 will focus on that. Very challenging but very worthwhile.
Based on three talks: Shawn Achor: The happy secret to better work; Ric Elias: 3 things I learned while my plane crashed; and Nic Marks: The Happy Planet Index. This will be an activity about maintaining focus on a few exercises around positivity, gratitude, connection, meditation and exercise.
Reflection: It's really hard to know if this brought about more happiness, given the emotional circumstances in the last few weeks of the activity. Some things were positive, some were challenging, but as usual just focusing on connection and positivity always has a good impact.
Based on the talk by Graham Hill: Why I'm a weekday vegetarian this will be 30 days where I will not consume meat, chicken or fish from Monday to Friday. A nice, practical activity that requires little thought, I can't wait.
Reflection: Really enjoyed this activity and will be keeping it in my life, at least Monday-Thursday.
Using the principles of simplicity, design and plain english outlined in Rory Sutherland: Sweat the small stuff, John Maeda on the simple life, Alan Siegel: Let's simplify legal jargon! and Sandra Fisher-Martins: The right to understand. This activity will influence my work and personal life, and involves improving the simplicity of processes and documents at work, and the organisation and structure of my life. Just a minor activity
Reflection: The big thing about this was making sure that before I began tasks I put the simplicity filter on to see how I could potentially improve things. Overall, I found that using that filter has made me more considered in my approach and has improved the work some of the work I have produced.
Using the principles outlined in the talk Carl Honore praises slowness. This will really be an activity about being more meaningful in the way I spend my time and savouring the things I am doing, rather than rushing through everything and multi-tasking my life.
Reflection: I think this was a well timed activity as it has helped me re-energise and recuperate from some of the more taxing internal analysis of the last few months.
Using the concepts of two presentations, Simon Sinek: How great leaders inspire action and Tony Robbins asks why we do what we do. This will be another introverted activity for me to try to discover my Why, so I can understand what drives me and apply that into my life.
Reflection: I have a draft purpose, belief and cause now that I am in the process of validating. This is a huge thing for me since this is a question that I have pondered for many years.
Based around Dean Ornish on the world's killer diet talk. This is a more practical activity that is focused around seeing if eating a completely Asian diet, doing slightly more exercise and daily meditation improve my general health, well being and stress levels.
Reflection: Not sure that 30 days had any health impact, but I did feel a little healthier with the dietary changes and many concepts will remain. Not enough meditation and exercise though, something to keep focusing on.
Using Neil Pasricha's: The 3 A's of awesome talk. With this activity I hope to reconnect with some of the simple joy and beauty in the world and start to become more in tune with my authentic self.
Reflection: Everyone should do this exercise for 30 days. Focusing on being positive about everything, appreciating the simple things in the world and trying to be more authentic - how can you go wrong. Definitely try to keep some of this, a good start for authenticity.
Using Julian Treasure's: 5 ways to listen better talk. With this activity I hope to become a more conscious listener.
Reflection: I found I was more conscious about listening and hearing during this activity. The big thing for me was the concept of soundscapes and that I can design and control mine, I will take this part further.
Using aspects of three presentations: Mark Bezos: a life lesson from a volunteer firefighter, Karen Armstrong: Let’s revive the Golden Rule and Laura Trice suggests we all say thank you. Through this I hope to become better at giving, receiving and asking for praise/thanks.
Reflection: this was a really positive activity and I will keep the main principles, but I need to put some more work into compassion.