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TED Talk Tuesday: 5 Ways to Kill Your Dreams

Jeff Miller

Chief Learning Officer and Vice President of Organizational Effectiveness, Cornerstone OnDemand

This is part of our monthly TED Talk Tuesday series, spotlighting can't-miss TED Talks and their key takeaways. You can learn more about our partnership with TED here.

Brazilian entrepreneur Bel Pesce knows first-hand that there's no such thing as overnight success. Though she has often heard her story of applying to MIT and leaving Sao Paolo to study and pursue a technology career in the U.S. portrayed that way, she knows it wasn't just one night and one application that brought her to where she is today. Rather, it was a lifetime of studying and challenging herself.

Now, after reaching her dream of working at some of Silicon Valley's biggest companies like Microsoft and Google, and helping launch smaller firms like Ooyala and Lemon Wallet, Pesce is paying it forward as a mentor for young professionals. As a mentor, she has learned the nuances of offering just enough support without overstepping her role as merely a guiding figure. In the video below, she shares some advice mentors can offer their proteges.

Read on for three takeaways from her TED Talk, 5 Ways to Kill Your Dreams, below.

"No one has the perfect answers for your life."

For mentors and L&D professionals, offering advice and guidance is second nature. But for individuals to truly reach their dreams, professional or personal, they must make their own decisions and, often, their own mistakes.

While helping set someone on a path towards their goal can be incredibly valuable, Pesce says, there are still endless choices that must be made along the way, and hard work that has to be applied. An effective mentor knows how to do her part to, say, make an introduction to a relevant connection, and then step away. Otherwise, if growth comes too easily, no learning and development takes place.

"It's your responsibility to make your dreams happen."

The same way that mentors can't dictate the perfect path to success, they also can't be blamed for mishaps. The journey to a dream is a challenging one, and there will undoubtedly be disappointing moments when it'll be easy to blame someone else, but this is a big no-no, Pesce says. To take credit for victories, it's vital to learn how to take responsibility for losses as well, because losses are almost always learning opportunities.

If individuals aren't able to see where they went wrong, they won't learn from their mistakes, and run the risk of repeating them. As a mentor, never accept blame for someone else's error—instead, help that person analyze, understand and internalize the situation before moving forward.

"When you're growing towards a peak, work harder than ever to find yourself a new peak."

"Okay" is never good enough, Pesce says, because continuing to challenge oneself is a critical component of growth. Though it's tempting to celebrate small successes and take it as an opportunity to slow down, the key is to simply set the bar higher next time. Overcoming increasingly difficult challenges brings individuals closer to becoming masters of their craft, even if they fail sometimes, Pesce says.

This is an area where mentors can really make a difference. Don't let someone deliver the same caliber of work time after time. Instead, encourage them to produce a better report, presentation or product every time they come up to bat. And here's a bonus tip: success isn't everything; sometimes, the journey there is what's most rewarding.

Header photo: TED

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