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Big Potential: How Transforming the Pursuit of Success Raises Our Achievement, Happiness, and Well-Being

4.20  ·  Rating details ·  542 ratings  ·  76 reviews
Bestselling author Shawn Achor shows how to unlock hidden sources of potential in ourselves and others.

In a world that thrives on competition and individual achievement, we are measuring and pursuing potential all wrong. By pursuing success in isolation - pushing others away as we push ourselves too hard - we are not just limiting our potential, we are becoming more stress
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published January 30th 2018 by Currency
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May 13, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: giveaway-wins
I won this book in a GR Giveaway in exchange for an honest review.

If one is unaware of the concepts within, this book is enlightening. It outlines the concepts of working together as a team, allowing each individual to be the best they can lead, in their own expertise ("The key to real leadership is inspiriting others to be leaders”) and stating that a leader cannot shine without his/her team behind them.
If one is aware of these concepts, this is an easy read book that is laden with re
Mar 01, 2018 rated it liked it
I've read this author's other book, The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work, and I really liked that one. It seemed so applicable. I liked this book too, but for some reason, it didn't seem as "real" to me. But I like this author. I like his honesty and I LOVE his positive approach to life and how to get the most from life. He seems like the guy next door and I also like the fact that he narrates his own audios. So, three sta ...more
Mar 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: review-books
The methods, strategies and research developed by top positive psychologist, presented in Big Potential, will be a tool that I wield again and again.

"The average age of being diagnosed with depression in 1978 was twenty-nine. In 2009, the average age was fourteen and a half. Over the past decade, depression rates for adults have doubled, as have hospitalization for attempted suicide for children as young as eight years old."

This statistic, found on page 22, is staggering, but even more frighte
Melissa T
*Please note I won a copy of this book via Goodreads Giveaways*

The concept in this book is what drew me in, and ultimately, kept me reading. This talks about how we should focus more on the interconnectedness of success, in business and in life. It outlines the fact that while some people may be the superstars, everyone around these superstars ultimately plays some role, big or small in their success.

One of the key points is one that I wholeheartedly agree with. Individual accomplishments aren't
I'm a Shawn Achor fan (loved his previous book The Happiness Advantage & his TED Talks). He is smart, funny, and backs up his positive psychology with research and case histories. Some of his conclusions might sound like pop psych bumper stickers until you read the details that went into his research and you realize his stories are actually quite profound. E.g., Helping others literally makes you feel better. Watching negative news literally makes you sad. And here's one of my favorites: Tak ...more
Feb 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
All that's in me says, READ THIS BOOK. Shawn Achor has written an amazing work of nonfiction backed by research and carefully worded for major life transformation.

For the first time, we have a well-written book that allows each individual to shine like a star but to learn to do so as other bright stars shine around you.

In his words, to reach your big potential, you must do so in community. You can only go so far along and in your personal growth. Once you realize this truth, you find your path
Niels Philbert
Mar 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
No doubt, that Shawn is great at what he does, the book is ticking off boxes of good research, engaging writing style and a lot of casestories. I would have like to have more concrete examples of what to implement exactly instead of multiple case stories, that skim the surface.
Jan 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
In this book, Shawn takes the latest research on happiness and potential and gives us the formula to make great improvements in our lives WITH the help of others. With evidence revealing that relationships are the "secret sauce" of living a long and happy life, Shawn gives us a step by step guide as to how we can also ALL achieve more with the help of one another. As he did with his other books, Shawn masterfully weaves the latest evidence with personal anecdotes and experiences that bring the r ...more
1. Be a superstar in a constellation of superstars. Average individual team members can possess collective intelligence, leading to higher success rates vs. individual geniuses. When you work to help make others more successful, you in turn take the invisible cap off your own success. Protégé Effect: We learn better when we teach others rather than study simply for the sake of individual knowledge.

2. True leadership is about caring enough to find solutions to problems, instead of continually sh
Shannon Kauderer
Jan 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: self-improvement
Great information and easy to read.

Much of it was ideas and research I had seen already, but presented in such a well done fashion that it was worthwhile. Lots of actionable items.

I would be more likely to choose this over other books to loan to friends on the start of their self improvement journey, though less likely for those already on their way.
Allison ༻hikes the bookwoods༺
We need to stop asking "How many points did you score?" and start asking "How did you help your team win?"

This is the premise of Shawn Achor's latest book, encouraging a shift from thinking about success as the achievement of an individual, to the support team that helped that individual reach full potential. The book is a nice collection of optimistic ideas to promote a positive attitude in the workplace (or any organization).
Charles Dean
Nov 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book comes out in February, but I got it early from the author for pre-ordering it on Amazon.

While it's based on the ideas in Achor's earlier books, this book emphasizes the role of others in achieving your potential. In short, there are no superstars in isolation.

What I like most about this new book is that it's chock-full of strategies for reaching your potential. I can't wait to discuss this book with others to see what ideas it leads to for us!
Jessica Bucci
Mar 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Big Potential carries a vast amount of motivational themes surrounding leadership, teamwork, and success. Shawn Achor illustrates the concept that pursuing success with others leads to better results. Sharing one’s achievements with others can have a positive domino effect, especially among co-workers.

The book contains lots of great advice, applicable to different situations and work environments. I look forward to sharing the messages I learned with my co-workers about teamwork and leadership.
Catherine Basu
Mar 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shawn Achor has been my personal hero since I first watched his TED Talk a few years ago. I was not only struck by the fun story of Amy the unicorn, but also felt such hope and excitement as he revealed research showing that seemingly small actions can have a huge positive impact on our personal happiness and success as well as the happiness and success of our communities. I’ve since devoured his best-selling books and you bet I signed up to receive an advance copy of Big Potential. When my apar ...more
❀ Susan G
Mar 30, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018-reads

“Success in not just about how creative or smart or driven you are, but how well you are able to connect with, contribute to and benefit from the ecosystem of people around you”.

After reading The Happiness Advantage, I was quick to borrow Big Potential: How Transforming the Pursuit of Success Raises Our Achievement, Happiness and Well-Being, placing it on hold at the library before it was even released. My goal is to read a few leadership books amongst the
Jadelyn Bailey
Mar 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Achor's points to overcome small potential and move safe through life as oppossed to taking some risks outside your comfort zone and reach big potential are simplified into SEEDS: Surround, Expand, Enhance, Defend, and Sustain. Although these actionable steps have research to back them up and seem easy, they are not. My difficulty in appllication may lie in my personal circumstances while reading this book. My mother was dying and I chose to go be with her for several weeks. I don't know how muc ...more
Sep 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Useful. But if one were to NOT read it it wouldn't really make life any less meaningful. I don't know how else to put it.

I especially liked the part about praise, and how it spreads; because my boss does it with me all the time and I find myself doing it to my direct reports more often than I would have otherwise (it didn't come naturally, but having had it applied on me so often and with such regularity and frequency it has almost (almost!) become second nature now).

The structure of the book wa
Aug 31, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book. I think all managers should be required to read it. I selfishly wanted to read this book to help with my own potential. But I was pleasantly surprised to see that the focus of the book was about raising the potential of those around you, which in turn raises your potential. I thought the advise in this book could apply to all facets of someone’s life whether in the workplace or in your personal life. The power of positivity and lifting those around you is something th ...more
Feb 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Wendy by: Goodreads Giveaways
Shelves: motivational
In a world that focuses on the success of an individual by being” better, smarter, more creative”, “Big Potential: How Transforming the Pursuit of Success Raises Our Achievement, Happiness and Well-Being” proposes an alternate solution. Drawing on his research, experience and lessons learned Shawn Achor reveals that by working with, contributing to and benefiting from a safe, friendly and equitable team environment can provide multiple rewards including personal growth, inner fulfillment and ult ...more
Pamela Detlor
Feb 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
“Big Potential” is a breath of fresh air. In a world rife with harsh competition and one-up-man-ship this book presents real arguments and scientific evidence of what is possible when we support each other, for the betterment of everyone.

Proven examples of business and human successes are thoughtfully presented. While healthy competition can be a positive thing, much competition focuses only on paring away the “losers.” Developing virtuous cycles and winning strategies that uplift all are at the
Sep 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
I liked The Happiness Advantage better, but this is still very good, and he identified some specific things that I had either discovered on my own, or that I'm thinking of trying.

I think where I ran into trouble is that, as a telecommuting introvert with no social circle to speak of, and a pretty dysfunctional workplace where I'm the only person working on projects (because of the absence of resources, and layoffs, not choice), my prospects for Big Potential feel extremely limited. I actually th
Feb 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a great read with principles that can be applied to all aspects of life when interacting with others, not just the workplace. I feel that this is an important read and not just for those in management positions and leadership roles. Achor applies his principles from his previous books (which are still on my to read list) in regards to happiness and success and discusses how we are so much stronger when we work together as a group and collaborate rather than compete individually. This boo ...more
Oct 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: giveaways
Happiness author Shawn Achor is at it again, letting us know why we shouldn't be settling for small potential.
Achor starts his case of how teamwork leads to success by pointing out examples of anti-teamwork. Toddlers are praised for doing things by them self - and so it begins. Children are reminded that their future success depends on individual grades and test scores. The problem is, kids who test so well struggle to work with others, Achor says. At the workplace, we value what we accomplish o
Tashfin Awal
Feb 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
I received this book for free through Goodreads Giveaways and have chosen to give my honest opinion about it.
The ideas discussed within this book are definitely intriguing and challenge many societal notions that we take for granted. I certainly gained a lot of valuable insight and looked at many things in a light that I was primarily accustomed to looking at things in. That being said, some of the ideas required certain base "factors" to hold true, much like mathematical Super Induction, and th
Apr 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Just skim through and read the bolder and italicized sentences. There are some inspiration gems even though it's pretty repetitive and you'll get the gist right away.

"It's not about survival of the fittest, it's about survival of the best fit"

and something to the effect of

Don't shine alone; shine brighter together.


Genuinely praise people and teams.

I liked and related to the author's points about overextending yourself and burnout.

It seems that the "amazing" positive results based off of
In today's increasingly competitive world, it can be easy for us to focus on our own individual accomplishments and what we need to do to get ahead. But if we take a step back to think about the potential to do great things and create change, it makes sense that we can almost always accomplish more together. Shawn Achor takes readers through the impact of empowering others in pursuit of big potential that grows exponentially and ripples out into our organizations, our communities, and the world. ...more
Apr 20, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: don-t-bother
I couldn't finish this book. It felt like a giant corporate team building exercise, with no substance, all hype. I kept thinking that Shawn obviously has never worked in an office or he might not be so enthusiastic about recommending that everyone work together. I felt like an extremely privileged white male with little or no experience was "explaining" how he could make everyone more productive if they just did it his way. It may have been better if we had less quotes and more research. I was s ...more
Jun 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: giveaways
I have read a lot of books and taken a lot of courses on leadership and success. This one certainly ranks among the best. There is a lot of good advice to take from it, some seemingly simple but we need to remind ourselves to be conscious of our choices and decisions and make it continual learning.

Pursuing success with others will benefit us all. I truly believe that statement is true and found it to be the general theme of the book. There are a lot of examples of how to apply this to many diffe
Oct 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a must-read for anyone who wants to grow a business, school, company, or anything for that matter. While focused on empowering those around you to lead from every seat, it is easy to see the benefit of supporting those around us. I most loved the chapter on eliminating negative influences and building a moat around us, or around a staff. I loved all the anecdotes in the book to illustrate the points Achor makes. Overall the book is a fantastic look into the interactions we have as we wor ...more
Jun 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Such a good read! Applicable to so many aspects of my life-- parenting, teaching, my corporate/client work, and even my church volunteer work. Achor is always fun to listen to (I listened on audible, but then as happened with Achor's The Happiness Advantage, I had to order a hard copy so that I could go through and mark it up). Great stories that bring the interesting research to life. Achor is the perfect blend of information, humor, and self-deprecation. I always find myself wishing for the ch ...more
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Shawn 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 ...more
“By denying the light of praise, we extinguish it. By bending the light toward others, we magnify it.” 0 likes
“Now I realize that I want Leo to be like my father. I don't just want him to be happy, but also to make everyone around him happier. To not only be creative, but to make everyone around him more creative. To not only be successful, but to make everyone around him more successful. I don't just want him to be a bright light; I want him to make others shine brighter as well.” 0 likes
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