Daniel Pink ATD24 2
ATD Blog

Act Now to Navigate What’s Next

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Bestselling author Daniel Pink keynotes the second full day of ATD24.

We are on day 142 of the year, reminded Daniel Pink—New York Times’s number 1 bestselling author of The Power of Regret: How Looking Backward Moves Us Forward and When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing—and we find ourselves in a rather messy, incoherent, and crazy world. While headlines report the stock market climbing and US unemployment rates remaining low, confidence levels are at rock bottom. There are also conflicting ideas of what artificial intelligence holds for us: some suggesting that it will finally make the dream of the end of the 9-to-5 workday a reality and others adamant that AI could kill humans.

Pink opined that we are at the stage of sorting out tumultuous questions such as:

  • What kinds of work should be done alone and what should be done together?
  • How will AI alter what we learn, where we learn, when we learn, and how we learn?
  • How can we succeed at work without destroying our family lives—and vice versa?
  • What is an office for?
  • How do we move forward in such a conflicting environment?
  • How do we prepare for what’s next when no one knows what that is?

Pink suggested that we can’t come up with the answers by writing a report or conducting a strategy session. Rather, we “need to act first in order to understand.”

In Tuesday’s general session keynote, “Beyond Resilience: A New Path to a Strong Culture,” sponsored by Schoox, Pink then gave ATD24 attendees five research-proven ways to navigate what’s next.

Schoox logo

Create a to don’t list

We all have a bias that leads us to act by adding rather than subtracting, explained Pink. Our “default setting is to add,” which leads to overburdened schedules and institutional red tape.

Rather than focusing on adding, a to don’t list can help people think about subtracting. That is, eliminating things that drain our energy and “suck the very life out of you,” said Pink. Write down the things that drain you—“memorializing them is very powerful”—and don’t do them.

Daniel Pink ATD24 3

Create progress rituals

For the remaining 222 days of the year, Pink challenged attendees to list three ways at the end of each day where they made progress. Too often, work cultures don’t offer “enough information on how we’re progressing,” he said. Individuals can, instead, establish their own progress rituals, which is especially important on the days they feel unaccomplished.

Have fewer how conversations and more why conversations

Purpose is an important performance enhancer. Understanding purpose can be aided by “turning the dial down a bit on how and turning the dial up on why.” Pink then recommended that attendees have two fewer how conversations and two more why conversations each week.

Take a break

“Each afternoon, take a 15-minute walk break outside with someone you like, and talk about something other than work, leaving your phone behind.” The key thing, however, is to schedule that break, knowing the likelihood that a scheduled task is more likely to take place than something that isn’t. “Then, model it as a sign of strength,” continued Pink. Managers and leaders can lead by example, making it culturally acceptable to step back and take a break.

Make bolder decisions

When at a juncture, humans have the choice to “play it safe or take a chance,” said Pink. Even if it doesn’t always work out the way they hope, people have more regrets about what they didn’t do than what they did.

To help embolden attendees, Pink provided three questions:

  • If you were replaced at your job tomorrow, what would your successor do?
  • What guidance would you give your best friend in that situation?
  • What would your present-day self advise your future self to do in 2034?

Pink concluded by citing a Chinese proverb, “The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second-best time is now.”

About the Author

ATD24 News is your source for news, updates, and session coverage for ATD’s 2024 International Conference & EXPO. conferencedaily.td.org

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Dan Pink was terrific! His message should be shared by all attendees when they return from the conference.
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Pink made an exceptionally good presentation
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