Encouragement Translates ‘Big Potential’ To Success

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Best selling author Shawn Achor has dedicated his life to demonstrating how to unlock hidden sources of potential in ourselves and others.

In a world designed for competition and individual achievement, we are measuring and pursuing potential all wrong, Achor says. By seeking success in isolation – pushing others away as we push ourselves too hard – we are not just limiting our potential, we are becoming more unhappy and disconnected than ever.

In his highly anticipated follow-up to The Happiness Advantage, Achor reveals a better approach.

Big Potential: How Transforming the Pursuit of Success Raises Our Achievement, Happiness, and Well-Being is a study in encouragement as the heart of true success. 

Drawing on his work in 50 countries, Achor shows that success and happiness are not competitive sports. Instead, they depend almost entirely on how well we connect with, relate to, and learn from each other.

Achor is an American educator, author, and speaker known for his advocacy of positive psychology. He is best known for his research reversing the formula of success leading to happiness—his research shows that happiness in fact leads to success. 

Achor spent 12 years studying what makes people happy at Harvard University. He later authored The Happiness Advantage and founded the Institute of Positive Research and GoodThinkInc. His TEDx talk “The Happy Secret to Better Work” is one of the 20-most viewed TED talks.

In the last chapter of his first best seller, Achor identified that the largest indicator of happiness and success is social connections. 


Just as happiness is contagious, every dimension of human potential – performance, intelligence, creativity, leadership ability and health – is influenced by those around us. 

So when we encourage others to become better, we reach new levels of potential, as well.

Small Potential is the limited success we can attain alone. BIG Potential is what we can achieve together. Here, Achor offers five strategies – the SEEDS of Big Potential–for lifting the ceiling on what we can achieve while returning happiness and meaning to our lives.

Here are his three most important lessons about potential:

  1. Use the SEEDS acronym to develop big potential, the first part of which is to Surround yourself with the best people.
  2. Expand and Enhance your power by helping your positive influencers lead and focusing on their accomplishments.
  3. When your system is in place Defend  it from attacks and Sustain the process with the “Virtuous Cycle.”

Achor found the dramatic shifts in how we approach work today demand an equally dramatic shift in our approach to success. 

Big Potential offers a new path to thriving in the modern world and making everyone around you feel better too. 

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