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My Three Favourite Take-Aways from an Inspiring TED Talk

Mar 22, 2021 | Emotional, Physical

Photo by paje victoria on Unsplash

The talk offered me a completely new perspective

I first heard Scott Dinsmore’s TED talk a few years ago, and it remains one of my favourite and most inspiring talks. The talk, ‘How to find work you love’, introduced me to a new and life-changing perspective, not only applicable to the workplace as the heading suggests but also to my personal life and how I approach it.

Alongside the relief to learn I wasn’t alone, he offered an easy-to-understand framework, as well as three take-aways that I often refer to and that I feel brought some positive change to my life.

‘If you don’t know what you’re looking for, you’re never going to find it.’

This is a sentence that, if I earned a pound for every time I’ve said it, I would be writing this blog from the deck of my mega-yacht in the Caribbean whilst sipping on a cocktail. I have shared it with friends, family, colleagues, children and myself most days.

I spent the first many years of my life not knowing what I was looking for and unsurprisingly never found it! This showed itself in most aspects of my life: my career, relationships, choices I made and didn’t make, etc. In a meandering motion, I went where life took me.

On the surface, this ‘quality’ wasn’t immediately obvious, as I always held down my job, had a circle of friends and gave my relationships my best shot. But those close to me could see I lacked ‘direction’. Family, as we know, can either make us or break us with their directness. ‘You’ve never had goals!’ was a relentless criticism from my mother over the decades, which was always met with a defensive reply. Admitting to not knowing what I wanted out of life seemed an impossible admission, let alone shameful.

Discovering Scott Dinsmore’s talk

I recall the day a few years ago when I watched Scott Dinsmore’s talk for the first time and how his words resonated with me. That sentence (‘if you don’t know what you’re looking for, you’re never going to find it’) became my personal mantra, as I slowly changed the way I looked at the bigger picture and began taking an interest in what truly mattered to me.

This changed perspective hasn’t placed me on the cover of Forbes magazine or brought me the perfect husband, two kids and picket fence. Not at all. But what it has done is given me clarity and honesty about what genuinely makes me smile; who I want to spend time with; what gets me het up; what is the one thing I believe in so much, I would march to Parliament Square in protest for or against; and ultimately, what do I want more of in life. Goals have become easier to define with the clearer sense of direction.

‘The things we think are impossible are just milestones waiting to be accomplished.’

A statement that has had the largest influence on me becoming physically fitter.

“The things that we have in our head that we think are impossible are often just milestones waiting to be accomplished if we can push those limits a bit. And I think this starts with your physical body and fitness, because we can control that.” 

Scott Dinsmore

Exercise had never been my thing; I got through life doing the bare minimum, relying on nervous energy to burn off any extra weight. Exercise was introduced into my life in my 40s with the advice from this talk in mind. Needing to feel a sense of accomplishment and realise some potential, I began with achievable targets. By no means, have I become an extreme sports enthusiast or signed up to sail around the world. I am, however, running 5km three times a week, which stemmed from doing the ‘couch to 5km’, with a walk or cycle in the weekends. I also start my days with a routine of sun salutations, which offer charming mental and physical benefits.

The exercise has brought some balance into my life, as well as discipline. It has given me a sense of accomplishment and pride in my physical appearance. Exercise for me was a necessary addition for my overall health and well-being, particularly as I draw closer to the 50-year mark.

Choose wisely who you put in your corner.

My third (and favourite) take-away is the way he expanded on the phrase, ‘you are the five people you surround yourself with’: 

There is no bigger life hack in the history of the world from getting where you are today to where you want to be than the people you choose to put in your corner. 

Scott Dinsmore

This is an incredibly true and powerful statement, and I have seen it for myself. Raised as the underdog of the family, I am well-rehearsed in feeling ‘not enough’, so during the times my self-esteem has been low, I have sought comfort in surrounding myself with others that had lower aspirations than me.

When my marriage ended in my early 30s, I took refuge in an easier life. I left my corporate job and moved to the coast to experience a nomadic and carefree lifestyle. No demands; no expectations. I had some of my happier years during this period and made some wonderful friends. But as far as my life’s purpose went, I lacked drive and meaning. I plodded my way through the years, not putting myself forward for anything outside my comfort zone.

Making a change

This all changed a few years ago when I decided to move to the city and get a new job. Overnight, I found myself in an open plan office surrounded by bright, dynamic colleagues from diverse cultures. Everything changed, from the restaurants I visited to the clothes I wore, the newspaper articles I read and political debates I listened to. But those examples are just the superficial aspects. The change came from the energy I derived from these people. Surrounding myself with these great minds every day gave me the confidence and inspiration to follow some of my celebrated passions. I filled weekends and evenings following these dreams and taking opportunities I had never considered doing before.

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Photo by CoWomen on Unsplash

I have done more with my life in the last five years than the previous 40-plus by taking chances and putting myself forward. And I could have done none of this without having those that believe in me in my corner.

Bringing these three lessons into my life and applying them has made some noticeable differences to it. I know what I love and what I don’t want to waste my time with, which I never knew before. I have a far clearer idea of what is important and what makes me happier and more balanced. There will no doubt be twists and turns in the road ahead, but I am loving being on my uniquely cultivated road in search of what I want.

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