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Ideas into action: Highlights from our year-end newsletter, in partnership with Brightline Initiative

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As this calendar year draws to a close, many of us are making resolutions about personal growth and change. It’s a great time, too, for making changes in our working lives. Most of us spend a good portion of our days doing some kind of work — learning or teaching, making or planning, following or leading — and it’s worth thinking deeply on how to use our working time. Over the past month, we’ve been collecting essays about exactly that.

In partnership with the Brightline Initiative, we’ve pulled together a series of talks to inspire you and help you think about what you might explore at work in 2019.

You can read the whole archive of talks and essays here. Below, find some key excerpts. May they inspire you to a brighter New Year!

Time flies at supersonic speed
Ricardo Viana Vargas, Executive Director, Brightline Initiative

As we near the end of 2018, you may recall this same time last year with a mixture of disbelief and panic. One more year is over; it’s time to plan what’s next.

We tend to think a lot, and as a result we have many great ideas. But transforming them into reality is a tough job. Did the ideas you put on your to-do list last year become reality this year?

Brightline has partnered with TED on this series of curated talk recommendations to help you think about what you’ll bring to life in 2019. To kick-off this aspiration, I want to recommend one of my favorite TED Talks: “Inside the mind of the master procrastinator” presented by Tim Urban. In this powerful and fun talk, Tim goes through our everlasting battle with procrastination — trying to balance instant gratification and the rising panic of trying to get through daily life with the need to reach our goals and deadlines.

Procrastination is in the DNA of human beings, but to get things done, we need to understand that we’re in the driver’s seat of our own lives. Transforming your ideas into reality is what will make your life bright and fulfilled. I always tell people: “What feeds people is food. Not the grocery list.”

My wish for you is that the ideas you include in your to-do list become reality in the coming year.

Just one second can focus your day — and center your life
Yasmin Belkhyr, Editorial team, TED

Everyone touts the transformative benefits of mindfulness. Intrigued, I’ve tried meditation apps — but instead of clarity and peace, I felt mostly distracted and restless. That is until I watched Cesar Kuriyama’s TED Talk, “One second every day.”

For Cesar, exhaustion from work made time seem to blur and blend. So he started recording one second of his day, every day, to document how he spends his life (which eventually resulted in an app, as things do).

Though Cesar doesn’t speak directly to the concept of mindfulness, his philosophy inspired me to use technology to live more immediately in my day, without fear of forgetting or losing time. After watching his talk, I downloaded his app and started recording. Though it only took a few moments, making the time to document a snippet of my day helps me focus and reflect.

Just that one second of video really is enough to bring back memories I’m sure I would have forgotten otherwise. These videos act as a highly concentrated collage of my life — both the good and the not-so-good — which helps me remember all of my year, not just the Instagram-ready parts.

“Record just a small snippet of your life every day,” Kuriyama says at the end of his talk. “So you can never forget that that day you lived.”

Transforming courage into capital
Ama Y Adi-Dako, TED TV team

One of my big dreams is to create financial tools and educational resources that help women realize their power and potential across Africa. Chetna Gala Sinha’s TED Talk, which is focused on rural India, renews my faith in the power of economic freedom to help attain gender equality, safety and dignity for women.

“[Women] continue to inspire me, teach me, guide me in my journey of my life,” she says. “Incredible women [who] never had an opportunity to go to school … no degrees, no travel, no exposure. Ordinary women who did extraordinary things with the greatest of their courage, wisdom and humility. These are my teachers.”

I am revitalized by Chetna’s story of opening a bank of her own — the first ever for and by women in her country — after she was denied a loan. It’s a story of grit and perseverance, and it jostles me out of my self-doubt. What’s possible when we stop assuming we know what’s best for those who are less privileged? Everything.

As Chetna says: “Courage is my capital. And if you want, it can be yours also.”

Building teamwork on the fly
Murat Bicak, Senior Vice President, Strategy at Project Management Institute (PMI)

I want to recommend one of my favorite TED Talks: “How to turn a group of strangers into a team” by Amy Edmondson.

Amy researches “teaming,” which she defines as teamwork on the fly. It’s what happens when we coordinate and collaborate with people across boundaries of all kinds to get work done.

I would expect that we’ve all experienced how difficult it is to work with strangers, and that’s why I believe we should pay attention to Amy’s talk. Because more and more, work is being completed via project teams that don’t know each other.

Amy lists three must-haves for a workplace: situational humility, curiosity and psychological safety. If these characteristics exist, she says, then teaming might work — but a perspective shift is also required for success. Amy suggests that the mindset we need to build a sustainable future requires us to recognize that we can’t do it alone, that we need each other.

I hope you can work with new teams to test these ideas. And I hope that you can create an environment for teams where situational humility, curiosity and psychological safety coexist and support delivering results.

The path to becoming better people
Helen Walters, Head of curation, TED

Right after I watched Dolly Chugh’s extraordinary talk, I had a moment. I’ll spare you the details, but suffice it to say, it did not make me look or feel like a good person. Essentially, I misread a situation, handled it poorly, and then, a few minutes later when I realized that I’d handled it poorly, I was flooded with bad feelings.

“Wow, did I mess up!”

“Coo, I’m some kind of terrible.”

Etc., etc.

All need for a good therapist aside, if this had happened before Dolly’s talk, it might well have been where I’d left it. I’d have languished for a little while and then moved on, never quite shaking that feeling of messing up, of not being good enough.

But because I had just seen Dolly’s talk, I now had a new technique at my disposal — and the knowledge that my attachment to being a “good” person could be holding me back from actually becoming a better person. That meant that as soon as I realized that I’d messed up, and when I got an opportunity to come clean and confess my mess … I took it. I didn’t hem or haw or try to justify myself. I just apologized, made a mental note not to repeat said error — you know, ever again — and then moved on with a clear head and heart.

Honestly. It was weird. It was also life-changing.

I’m so, so grateful to get to experiment with this new technique for the rest of time. Because, as Dolly says, “The path to being better people just begins with letting go of being a good person.”


Business insights from Brightline

Interpersonal relationships

People form the links of everything, especially the links between ideas and action. And relationships are essential for people to form such links. We build relationships with family, with neighbors, with friends, with teams and people in our organizations. Growth of relationships is a key success factor of one’s life. When cultivating relationships, don’t forget to look outside! Look for people who are outside of your usual social circles, who have a different set of skills or talents than you or your friends. In the business setting, be sure to look outside of your own organization and understand the needs of competitors, customers and the market landscape. Advantage in the market flows to those who excel at gaining new insights from an ever-changing business environment and quickly responding with the right decisions and adjustments to new ideas and actions.

Learn more about the Brightline Initiative