Connect and Thrive (PS: Leave Your Ego at the Door)

Ever have the thought, “Yeah, I already know this” when reading a book? I had that thought when reading a pre-publication proof of Shawn Achor’s new book, Big Potential. That “I already know this” feeling didn’t come from a belief that I know it all. It came from the recognition of Truth. While I (and, I suspect, you) already knew Big Potential’s Big Idea, the research presented in the book makes it even easier to grasp.

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Achor is a well-established expert on the link between positive psychology and success (business and personal). His latest project takes us beyond the question, “What can I do to prime myself for positivity and success?” to “Beyond mindset, what drives human and business potential?” The answer is both intuitively obvious and consistent with Achor’s happiness research findings.

Achieving your (small) potential is a matter of personal effort. Much of the literature on self-help, leadership, and happiness focuses on things we can do to prime ourselves for success. You’ll recognize these: connect to purpose, establish a personal routine, set goals, and focus on priority activities, meditate, practice gratitude, and treat your body with respect. But here’s the thing. The thing that you already know. The Big Idea:  “...almost every attribute of your potential - from intelligence to creativity to leadership to personality and engagement - is interconnected with others. ...We need to stop trying to be faster alone, and start working to become stronger together.”

Achor cites Google’s Project Aristotle, which sought to identify what characteristics were associated with high-performing teams. He uses case studies of student success at Harvard, chicken farm productivity, children’s personality, basketball team success and even scripture to describe his unequivocal conclusion: to achieve BIG potential, we need to leave our egos at the door. BIG Potential-enhancing questions that we should ask sound like, “How do I expand my influence in an interconnected world?” and “How am I impacting others with my life and energy?” and “How do I raise my potential by making others better?”.

There are too many BIG Potential strategies to list here, but you’ve heard them all before. You already know them.

  • Surround yourself with positive, high-achieving people
  • Focus on lifting others – not yourself
  • Foster team diversity the way you’d diversify your stock portfolio
  • Forster psychological safety in teams
  • Connect to purpose
  • Celebrate even small successes
  • Shine attention on excellence
  • Praise, praise, praise!
  • Communicate a crystal clear visualization of your goal

There are more. Read the book. But notice this: If you understand Energy Leadership, you already understand Big Potential! As we move from lower- to higher-energy mindsets, we are moving from a mindset of isolation toward a mindset of connection. Level 6 of Energy Leadership’s 7 levels is all about connection. Synthesis is the creation that comes from an acknowledgement that we’re all the same; all connected. It’s where our sense of separateness begins to feel like an illusion. Seeing the world through that lens, competition becomes a matter of maximizing the good, not just maximizing MY good.

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For many in the world of sales, this idea will seem absurd. We see our role as conquerors. Winning a deal means that someone else will lose. This may be true in the short term, but in the big picture, creating mutually-beneficial relationships with your customers and even your competitors will likely serve to strengthen you all. One of you may become the other’s boss someday...

Of course, you’re free to dismiss this Zen-like way of seeing the world and how to strengthen your place within it. But consider this: the zero-sum game doesn’t last very long. Life is a marathon, not a sprint. Making that simple shift from “How do I conquer?” to “How do I strengthen the people I’m connected to?” is a proven winning strategy. Drink the Kool-Aid. Soften up a bit, if that’s what this feels like. You’ll find that in doing so you’ve removed the biggest limiter of your own success.


Pete Colgan works with sales and marketing professionals who want fulfillment so they can manage stress, build thriving business and create successful, happy lives. Consider investing in yourself to truly understand what brings you joy and how you can use that awareness to increase revenue and kick your life and career into high gear. Whether through one-on-one coaching, or a cost-effective group coaching program, what you discover will help the work you do feel effortless! Click here to learn more.