The Only Thing That Has Ever Changed the World

This RSA talk on the 21st Century Enlightenment grounds us back to thinking where we *should* be going, and is a thought-provoking bit of animated lecture (which is also fun to watch!).

Some highlight from just the first four minutes:

  • If you want to be happy throw away all those self-help books and surround yourself with happy friends
  • We are bad decision makers
  • We are very very bad at predicting what will make us happy, but also bad at understanding what made us happy in the past.
  • Recent insights into human nature help us make better decisions.

The only thing that has ever changed the world? Watch the clip and find out.

Other posts about change:
How to Persuade – and what doesn’t work
Take Care of Yourself First – because performance isn’t the only thing you’re judged on
When You Screw Up (and you will) – turning failure to your advantage, or at least take the sting out

2 thoughts on “The Only Thing That Has Ever Changed the World

  1. While this article certainly states a truth, in that if you want to promote yourself you need to promote your people first, I find it disturbing in the sense that it seems to excuse inept management. What I mean by that is that it is a managers duty to find out and understand what his or her people are doing. The idea that “perception is reality” is one that encourages intellectual laziness, that is there is no need to find out what is going on, rather you just sit back and “perceive” the world around you. Managers need to do everything in their power to verify that their perception matches the reality on the ground. To do anything less is to shirk your responsibilities to yourself and to your people.


  2. I don’t disagree. Tolerance of mediocre performance only makes you a magnet for mediocre performance. I believe that one of those simple (but not necessarily easy) things that outstanding managers do well is to have those courageous conversations that hold people accountable for the things they are responsible for. In my last year’s experience as a business execution specialist the best performing companies are the ones that not only understand it but actually do it.

    I took something different away from the video. That is, we don’t really understand why people behave the way they do. The more research based understanding we have of human nature, the more we base our decisions on facts and research instead of guessing hoping, the better those decisions will be.

    Hope is not a strategy. Our own minds don’t do us any favours in disguising moral judgments, intuition, values, beliefs, and emotions as rational decisions.

    Yet people are emotional beings, and without being able to grasp the knife of change through passion, stories, and human relationships, we are holding the sharp blade of rationality without a handle. The blood on the floor is ours.

    ‘Never doubt that a small, group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.’ — Margaret Mead


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