Book:  Big Potential

Author:  Shawn Achor

Purchase:  Print | eBook | Audiobook

Citation:  Achor, S. (2018). Big potential : how transforming the pursuit of success raises our achievement, happiness, and well-being. New York: Currency.

Three Big Takeaways:

  • Social connection is a great predictor of thriving personally and academically in high school and college.  It is less about individual attributes of a student and more about how they fit in with the culture and with their peers. (pg. 33)

  • If employees receive four or more "touchpoints" of praise or positive feedback in a quarter, their retention rates increase to 96 percent over the next year. Furthermore, if the individual receives four or more touchpoints over the year, the amount of praise they provide to their peers doubles. (pg. 138)

  • Individuals who watch just three minutes of negative news in the morning are 27 percent more likely to report their day as unhappy six to eight hours later. (pg. 153)

Other Key Ideas:

  • ​Connecting with high-potential people dramatically increases your likelihood of high-potential outcomes. Furthermore, being surrounded by happy people significantly improves your chances of being happy. (pg. 40)

  • ​We learn better when we teach others rather than study simply for the sake of individual knowledge. This is called the "protege effect." (pg. 44)

  • ​When we share our findings with people with other areas of expertise or perspectives, or seek feedback about our concept from someone in a different field, or try out our idea with potential users, then suddenly the real potential starts to emerge. (pg. 50)

  • ​At a time when we have 24/7 access to social media and news feeds that are being refreshed literally every second, our exposure to other people's energy - positive or negative - is higher than ever. And the more of it we absorb, the more it impacts our motivation, our engagement, our performance. (pg. 69)

  • ​Just as being around negative, unmotivated people drains our energy and potential, surrounding ourselves with positive, engaged, motivated, and creative people causes our positivity, engagement, motivation, and creativity to multiply. (pg. 70)

  • ​Jim Rohn, the wildly successful motivational author, built his business on the idea that "you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with." (pg. 73)

  • ​Must allow anyone to be a leader regardless of job title, college degree, or years of experience. Believing that you, too, can lead from any seat multiplies your potential to create change. When everyone in a system, no matter their official role or position, shares the work of creating change, there is virtually no limit on what can be achieved. (pg. 91)

  • ​Rarely do school districts give training to student-facing employees like bus drivers, maintenance workers, and the receptionists. You must empower the people in these seats to lead; but first, you must recognize them as leaders. (pg. 91)

  • ​Companies that attract, deploy, and lead talent more effectively enjoy huge gains in productivity that are 30 to 50 percent higher than industry averages. Thanks to their inspirational leadership such companies are able to use far more of their employees' discretionary energy. (pg. 103)

  • ​Praise is a renewable resource. It creates a virtuous cycle - the more you give, the more you enhance your own supply. When done right, praise primes the brain for higher performance. The more we praise, the more success we create. The more you can authentically shine praise on everyone in your ecosystem, the more your potential, both individually and collectively, rises. (pg. 116)

  • ​Be careful about giving praise at the expense of others. When you tell someone they are "better" than someone else, you are placing an unconscious, implicit limit on your expectation for what that other person can achieve. (pg. 120)

  • ​The most powerful way to give positive praise it to take two minutes each morning to simply write and send a text message or email praising or thanking someone in your life. (pg. 128)

  • ​Whenever you receive praise, first ask yourself who helped get you to that place and respond with where the support or idea came from. You're not looking to minimize your accomplishment; you want to refract the recognition, rather than absorb or deflect it. You want to highlight those who helped you get there. (pg. 132)

  • ​Simply observing someone who is stressed - especially a co-worker or family member - can have an immediate impact on our nervous systems, raising our levels of the stress hormone cortisol by as much as 26 percent. In short, being surrounded by only negative and stressed-out people very quickly tips our balance from motivated and positive to frazzled and negative. (pg. 149)

  • ​Roughly 90 percent of the anxiety at work is created by 5 percent of one's network - the people who sap energy. (pg. 150)​

  • ​For better productivity, commit to being exposed to no media (news, email, social media, etc.) before breaks or morning coffee, and no media after laying in bed for the night. In fact, any kind of media - positive or negative - before bed can wake your brain back up and cost you as much as an hour of sleep on average per night. (pg. 155)​

  • ​Celebrations are the ultimate motivating force, because they not only highlight a high moment in our life, they simultaneously are a high moment in and of themselves. (pg. 201)

Copyright © 2019 by Dr. Jared Smith LLC.  Specializing in Leadership, Education, and Personal Growth.