In Big Potential: How Transforming the Pursuit of Success Raises our Achievement, Happiness, and Well-Being, author Shawn Achor shows readers the power of switching from competing against others to helping others in order to increase the likelihood of success. Competing against others results in a win-lose situation, while the power of big potential creates a win-win situation. Shawn summarizes the theme of the book nicely in this quote:
"The more you help people find their light, the more you both shine."(1)
The book sets the stage by describing the problem with small potential and introducing the concept of big potential. He defines each of these as follows:
SMALL POTENTIAL is the limited success you can achieve alone. (2)
BIG POTENTIAL is the success you can achieve only in Virtuous Cycle with others. (3)
The book's remaining pages explain the SEEDS of big potential. SEEDS is of course an acronym representing the following actions:
Chapters 3 through 7 illustrate each of these actions in greater detail, while also providing actionable takeaways readers can start implementing right away. For example, in Chapter 5, which focuses on enhancing resources, readers are encouraged to send a message to someone thanking or praising them. This stuck out to me as something simple to implement, yet impactful. It's one of the things from the book I implemented before I finished reading the entire book. Try it yourself, and let me know how it goes!
Another seemingly simple yet impactful suggestion for readers, this time from Chapter 6 is to create boundaries with negative influences. To do this, the author suggests avoiding media at the book-ends of your day (before your first meal and once you go to bed). There were quite a few of these activities I highlighted and bookmarked with the intent of implementing in my own life. As with any good transformation, instead of starting them all at once, my strategy is to start with one and keep going with it until it becomes a habit. Once it's a habit, I'll pick out another one and work to make that a habit. And so on.
Finally, the book concludes by reinforcing the importance of helping each other thrive, and group success, rather than individual accomplishments. This made me think of the importance of breaking down silos between auditors and audit clients. One cannot thrive without the other. If auditors can't perform their work effectively, they can't provide assurance and insights to their clients, which can reduce their clients' effectiveness and thus that of the overall organization. We need to help each other thrive so our organization can also thrive.
(1) Achor, Shawn, Big Potential: How Transforming the Pursuit of Success Raises Our Achievement, Happiness, and Well-being. New York, Crown Business, 2018. page 18.
(2), (3) Achor, Shawn, Big Potential: How Transforming the Pursuit of Success Raises Our Achievement, Happiness, and Well-being. New York, Crown Business, 2018. page 24.