5 TED Talks on Success (and Failure!)

23 July 2019 |

5 TED Talks on Success (and Failure!)

Success? Most of us crave that in some way. Failure? Fewer of us set out with that as the goal. But are we striving for the right things and must we learn from our failures to hit our ultimate targets? This diverse handful of TED Talks fills in some blanks, from the man who sought rejection to the woman who embraces the near-win, and from philosophical musings to in-your-face experiments.

What I Learned From 100 Days of Rejection

This is an endearing and fascinating talk by Jia Jiang, author of ‘Rejection Proof’. Jiang ventures boldly into a territory so many of us fear: rejection. He actively seeks out a different type of rejection for 100 days, from borrowing money from strangers to planting flowers in other people’s gardens. It shows what can be achieved when we work with and learn from the rejections we face, suggesting that potential and possibility might await rather than the closed doors we might expect.


A Kinder, Gentler Philosophy of Success

In this talk, contemporary philosopher Alain de Botton examines our ideas of success and failure and questions the assumptions that underpin these two judgments. In his signature calm and entertaining manner, de Botton asks, is success always earned? Is failure? This is an eloquent and witty case to move beyond the barriers and the snobbery that hold us back, to find true pleasure in our work.


Success, Failure and the Drive to Keep Creating

This is a talk by Elizabeth, a former waitress who aspired to be a writer. Elizabeth was devastated by the endless rejection letters to her manuscripts but ploughed on in her attempts to get published. She eventually found success with a certain novel, ‘Eat, Pray, Love’. You might have heard of it. In her insightful TED talk, Elizabeth Gilbert explains why success can be as disorienting as failure and offers a simple, though difficult, way to carry on, regardless of your eventual outcome.


Why the Secret to Success is Setting the Right Goals

To experience success or failure, you must be en route to a particular goal according to venture capitalist John Doerr. Is that goal the right one? In his practical TED talk, Doerr explores how our leaders and institutions are failing us, not necessarily because they’re bad or unethical, but because they have the wrong objectives. He suggests ways to get back on track, setting and executing audacious goals for ourselves, and showing what impact this can have on our own success and failure.

Embrace the Near Win

Do you strive for perfection? Is perfection success? Art historian Sarah Lewis noticed something surprising and important about the artist she was studying: not every composition was a total masterpiece. Lewis considers the role of the almost-failures and the near wins in our own lives and puts the question to you: is it your near-wins or your failures that do more to push you forward?


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