• Big Potential

  • How Transforming the Pursuit of Success Raises Our Achievement, Happiness, and Well-Being
  • By: Shawn Achor
  • Narrated by: Shawn Achor
  • Length: 6 hrs and 35 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (1,114 ratings)

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Big Potential  By  cover art

Big Potential

By: Shawn Achor
Narrated by: Shawn Achor
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Publisher's summary

“With cutting-edge research, penetrating insights, and practical examples, Shawn Achor describes a new conception of ‘success,’ and in doing so, reveals exciting new strategies we can use to meet our highest potential.”—Gretchen Rubin, bestselling author of The Happiness Project

“A vibrant book on how to bring out the best in others—and how they can bring out the best in us.”—Adam Grant, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Think Again and host of the podcast WorkLife

In a world that thrives on competition and individual achievement, we’re measuring and pursuing potential incorrectly. Pursuing success in isolation—pushing others away as we push ourselves too hard—not only limits our potential but makes us more stressed and disconnected than ever.

Harvard-trained researcher Shawn Achor reveals a better approach. With exciting new research combining neuroscience and psychology with Big Data, Achor shows that our potential is not limited by what we alone can achieve. Instead, it is determined by how we complement, contribute to, and benefit from the abilities and achievements of people around us.

When we—as individuals, leaders, and parents—chase only individual achievement, we leave vast sources of potential untapped. But once we put “others” back into the equation, and work to make others better, we ignite a Virtuous Cycle of cascading successes that amplify our own.

The dramatic shifts in how we approach work today demand an equally dramatic shift in our approach to success. In Big Potential, Achor draws on cutting-edge original research as well as his work with nearly half of the Fortune 100 and with places like NASA, the NFL and the NBA, and offers a new path to thriving in the modern world.

©2018 Shawn Achor (P)2018 Random House Audio

Critic reviews

Big Potential turns our notions of success upside down. It shows that the secret to achievement isn’t to focus on one’s self but to lift up the lives of others. Then it outlines the practical, actionable steps to turn these ideas into action. This book is another reminder of the inspiring power of Shawn Achor.”—Daniel H. Pink, New York Times bestselling author of The Power of Regret

“With enticing stories, fresh studies, contagious enthusiasm, and immensely practical tips, this is Shawn Achor at his best.”—Adam Grant, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Think Again and host of the podcast WorkLife

“With cutting-edge research, penetrating insights, and practical examples, Achor describes a new conception of ‘success’ and, in doing so, reveals exciting new strategies we can use to meet our highest potential. If you aim to live up to the possibilities of your life, you’ll find Big Potential to be a key resource.”—Gretchen Rubin, bestselling author of The Happiness Project

What listeners say about Big Potential

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Hypocritical self-serving diatribe

At the core the book is about how individualism should be lessened so the group can thrive, and how fitting in is better than being the fittest for the role. Yet, he is excited when he meets Oprah and Brenee Brown, people whose individualism, hard work, and being the most fit for the role by designing their own paths made them successful. They did not lessen their strive for success or individualism for any group. Complete hypocritical garbage. Utter nonsense. Also, look at group first societies like Japan, high rate of suicide, high levels of unhappiness, and low births.

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18 people found this helpful

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Inspiring and empowering!

Thank you! Inspiring and empowering! I have already recommended it to several people. The book was based on research without being too technical.

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7 people found this helpful

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absolutely incredible book!

absolutely loved this book, I have listened to it three times already just because I cannot get enough of it!. John has an amazing way to tell personal stories, stories from very successful places like Harvard and all of the different companies he's worked for, and all of his advice is highly data-driven which is something that I really appreciate. Definitely worth the listen! Highly recommend

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6 people found this helpful

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Nuggets everywhere

Shawn's book opened my eyes to so many places where I can insert his theories and principles into my own life about happiness and my responsibilities of happiness to others.

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4 people found this helpful

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Loved it!

Such life changing stuff in here. I feel like this book should be required for any human that has contact with the general public.
I loved how the stories backed up research. I would have given all 5 stars be he goes so dang fast at some points I missed what he was saying. I did enjoy it overall though.

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Complacency and Mediocrity Handbook

It's telling that many of the companies cited as good examples in this book have historically under-performed in their industries (Zappos, Jet Blue): flashy but ineffectual. It is also telling that the main metaphor binding the book together -- that lightening bugs mate more successfully when glowing in unison rather than individually -- pertains to insects. The sort of work place this book promotes is that of the hive-mind, that of the simplistic r-strategist that is here today and gone tomorrow. This book does not promote a workplace suitable K-strategists, which are what humans are; this book will not lead to real dynamism and lasting performance.

This book advocates workplace policies that will always succeed by their own metrics but will fail by any metric that matters. Shawn Achor has probably built his career on the fact that the main product he supposedly delivers, happiness, is ephemeral and easy to prime people to perceive at the time you collect your surveys and metrics for justifying whatever grant or budget funds a happiness initiative. When it comes to measurements that matter, such as stock prices or inflation, this book shows an outright revulsion to these more fact based measures. At one point Achor even daydreams about a device that filters out all bad or negative news stories. This was dumbfounding; does Achor have some sort of problem with facts, or reality? Rose-tinted glasses lead to the impression of success in the near term but a harsh collision with reality down the line.

I couldn't give this book a wholly negative score because there are some good points about distributing agency and empowering all workers, self-care, and so forth. But in the whole I've worked with enough people that drink the positive psychology kool-aid to tell you that their belief systems aren't what hold a company or a livelihood together. Enduring this book felt like being under the pall of sedatives and significantly reorganizing around the recommendations here would be wasteful and dangerous.

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4 people found this helpful

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Amazing!

I learned so much. I heard Shawn speak at our big company event this summer and ended up getting his book a few months later. It was everything i needed and more. Great studies, i learned a lot and i will be re listening because it was SO good. Highly recommend to anyone wanting to grow in their happiness as well as help those around them, with facts and statistics!

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great for culture mindset

great message. it has a lot of value to business, family, and groups. worth the read

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Amazing author, amazing content

Shawn Achor nails the primer to collective momentum by expressing and explaining the makings of greatness through both a scientific and business approach. 5 stars. Don’t forget to check out his Ted Talk on Happiness as well.

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Multiple solid points for maximizing potential

Some key points were the power of close, highly collaborative teams vs superstars, and the power of repeated positive feedback to keep people both focused and believing they are providing great insight and value (once they believe it they will live it, and it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy). Recommended.

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