Big Potential Book Summary - Big Potential Book explained in key points
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Big Potential summary

Shawn Achor

How Transforming the Pursuit of Success Raises Our Achievement, Happiness, and Well-Being

4.4 (212 ratings)
19 mins

Brief summary

Big Potential by Shawn Achor is a guide on how to achieve success through social connections and positive relationships. It provides practical strategies based on scientific research to help us reach our full potential by surrounding ourselves with positive people and fostering collaboration.

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    Big Potential
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    Key idea 1 of 6

    Perceiving success as a zero-sum game limits our potential. Helping others and collaborating with them greatly amplifies it.

    “Top of the class,” “first place,” and “best.” At school, on the sports field, and throughout our working careers, we’re taught to aim for top-ranked positions. It’s not enough to be good – we have to be better than everyone else. But what this implies is that there’s only so much success to go around. As a result, we become competitive and focused on accomplishing things on our own.

    But approaching success this way actually puts a cap on what we can achieve. It may seem counterintuitive, but if we want to maximize our potential, we shouldn’t compete with those around us. Instead, we should help them succeed.

    The key message here is: Perceiving success as a zero-sum game limits our potential. Helping others and collaborating with them greatly amplifies it.

    By competing and relying on our individual skills, strengths, and other resources, we can only acquire limited success. Or, in the author’s words, we’re stuck in the realm of Small Potential. But when we help others succeed, our pool of available resources expands. And tapping into this wider pool makes it possible to accomplish much more than what we’re capable of alone.

    This is Big Potential, and a study into the mating behavior of fireflies provides a glowing example of just how powerful it is. Research published in the journal Science revealed that when individual male fireflies light up randomly, there’s a 3 percent chance that a female will respond. But when large groups of male fireflies light up together, that number shoots up to 82 percent!

    Like these fireflies, when we collaborate, everyone benefits. And that’s not all.

    Achieving Big Potential isn’t just a one-off. The more we help others succeed, the more resources they gain in the form of experiences, skills, and opportunities. We have access to these resources and can use them to become better and gain bigger success ourselves. This creates a positive feedback loop called a Virtuous Cycle, in which Big Potential compounds and becomes easier and easier to achieve.

    So, how do we go about establishing a Virtuous Cycle?

    The answer is by planting SEEDS. But there’s no need for gardening tools; SEEDS is an acronym for the five steps to creating a Virtuous Cycle. We need to SURROUND, EXPAND, ENHANCE, DEFEND, and, finally, SUSTAIN. And in the following blinks, we’ll learn exactly what each of these steps involves.

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    What is Big Potential about?

    Big Potential (2018) highlights how we can maximize our potential by working with others instead of competing against them. Chasing individual success only taps into a fraction of what we’re capable of. But by connecting with other people, learning from them, and supporting each other, we can unlock hidden potential and reach new heights.

    Big Potential Review

    Big Potential (2018) presents a fresh perspective on achieving success by embracing the power of social connections. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • Explores the impact of our social environment and how it can unlock our potential, offering practical tools to build meaningful connections.
    • Shares compelling research findings and real-life stories that highlight the transformative power of collaboration and teamwork.
    • Challenges the notion of individual success and reveals the benefits of investing in others, creating a more fulfilling and rewarding life.

    Who should read Big Potential?

    • People looking to unleash their full potential
    • Anyone who feels stuck in their life or career
    • Leaders who want to bring out the best in people

    About the Author

    Shawn Achor is a renowned expert on positive psychology. His research has been published by WSJ, the New York Times, and Forbes. He’s worked with the Pentagon, the White House, and Fortune 100 companies, and his lectures have earned him distinguished teaching awards from Harvard University. Achor is also the author of the international bestseller The Happiness Advantage.

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    Big Potential FAQs 

    What is the main message of Big Potential?

    The main message of Big Potential is that our success is greatly influenced by the people around us.

    How long does it take to read Big Potential?

    The reading time for Big Potential varies, but the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Big Potential a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Big Potential is a must-read for those seeking to unlock their full potential. It offers insights and strategies for achieving greater success.

    Who is the author of Big Potential?

    Shawn Achor is the author of Big Potential.

    What to read after Big Potential?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Big Potential, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
    • You Do You by Sarah Knight
    • David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell
    • The Power of Nunchi by Euny Hong
    • Before Happiness by Shawn Achor
    • How Successful People Think by John C. Maxwell
    • Mastering the Game by Sharon E. Jones with Sudheer R. Poluru
    • Don't Believe Everything You Think by Joseph Nguyen
    • The Squiggly Career by Helen Tupper and Sarah Ellis
    • Designing Your Work Life by Bill Burnett