What is Big Think?  

We are Big Idea Hunters…

We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

Big Think Features:

12,000+ Expert Videos

1

Browse videos featuring experts across a wide range of disciplines, from personal health to business leadership to neuroscience.

Watch videos

World Renowned Bloggers

2

Big Think’s contributors offer expert analysis of the big ideas behind the news.

Go to blogs

Big Think Edge

3

Big Think’s Edge learning platform for career mentorship and professional development provides engaging and actionable courses delivered by the people who are shaping our future.

Find out more
Close

The Paradox of Success

September 16, 2013, 12:41 PM
Shutterstock_131687879

We philosophers deal in paradoxes.  And probably the most known and ancient paradox is the paradox of happiness.  That if you pursue happiness directly it tends to allude you.  But if you do things that are meaningful, are valuable to others, things that you’re really passionate about because you find inherent value in them, you create the space for happiness to find you.  To understand happiness is to know you can’t pursue it directly.

Well I coined or created this corollary to the paradox of happiness that I call the paradox of success.  In the interdependent, interconnected world if you pursue success directly it will allude you.  Or if you get it, it won’t last, it won’t endure as we’ve seen where we now lurch from crisis to crisis not every ten years but every ten weeks and, in some cases, every ten days.  But if we pursue significance which means being other regarding.  Do something because it is truly designed to be of value to others.  We create the space for success to find us.

The Johnson & Johnson credo has the best formulation of this.  It’s a one page document.  It talks about our first responsibilities to the doctors and patients of the world and the communities that we serve.  And it goes on and on and on to really enumerate its responsibilities.  And then this document talks about money.  But it says if we live according to these principles, our shareholders should – not will – should make a fair return.  In other words, let’s make the world a healthier place and make money as opposed to let’s make the world a healthier place in order to make money.

Inspirational leaders understand and can scale the distinction between doing something and, as capitalists, making money versus doing something in order to make money.  If you do something and make money you create space for people to embrace that thing genuinely because it’s worthy of their dedication and they understand, as capitalists, that we need to make money to have profits and energy to keep going.  But if the reason to do it is money, we disconnect and we disengage. 

In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think's studio.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

 

 

The Paradox of Success

Newsletter: Share: