There’s no excuse not to be great.

There used to be.

The internet has changed all this though.

Let me explain.

I grew up in a small city called St. Thomas Ontario.

In my upbringing (through school and friends), I was taught in subtle but consistent ways how I should think about myself (I was taught I was unattractive and to fear bullies) and how I should think about others (I would see myself as better or less than others, a form of insecurity), what I should strive to earn financially one day (not a whole lot) and what I should do for a career (I can’t remember what my guidance teacher said, but it definitely would have flattened my creative moral and had me look at my career as punishment for my sins).

If I had any fortune, it was getting the parents I got.

Although like all of us (me included), they only knew what they knew based on their own experiences and surroundings. However, if they taught me anything, it was how to love another, unconditionally. I’m forever grateful.

Here’s what I’ve learned: we are all born into a conversation – we inherit it, if you will. A conversation about ourselves, others, and what’s possible in life.

Conversation creates our reality. If you were born into an expansive, abundant conversation – kudos. You’re a lucky one.

If you were born into a conversation of limitations, jealousy, and scarcity, you go through your whole life creating different versions of this reality (some of us over-compensate), while others by becoming passive (usually passive-aggressive).

Regardless, we never have (or feel we ‘are’) as much as we want.

Thankfully, the internet has come around.

The internet gives us access to different conversations that are distinct from the old one in our head. Conversations about what’s possible in our life and the life of others.

Conversations about what’s possible for humanity.

And all for free.

The non-profit organization, TED, is one of the entities leading this charge. Thousands of the world’s foremost thought leaders have taken the stage to deliver 20-minute talks on their life or area of expertise and passion (from Benjamin Zander to Bill Clinton, to Bill Gates, to Sergey Brin, the list goes on).

When you routinely begin to access how these people think (and how they ‘are’), you can’t help but allow their expanded muscle for greatness permeate your own belief system.

When you soak in this conversation long enough, you soon learn, greatness isn’t in some of us, but in all of us (a statement that is reminiscent of Marianne Williamson’s famous quote).

On June 16th, I declared I’d watch 20 TED Talks over 20 business days (it’s a start) and I asked my community to make suggestions.

 10 friends chimed in that morning, sharing 11 Talks. I vowed to watch each one.

As of today, I’m 7 days in and 8 talks watched (I cheated and did one extra on Saturday) and I’m thankful to these leaders and my friends who recommended their talks.

I learned from Anthony Rudolf why chivalry is an art that should not go away (recommended by Debra Watkinson).

I learned from Ben Dunlap the power of perseverance and forgiveness (recommended by Alex Church).

I learned from Dr. David Eagleman that life could possibly be more mysterious, more, abundant, and less adversarial than the ongoing theist vs. atheist debate (I randomly found this one through Lavin Agency website).

I learned from Caroline Casey what courage truly looks like (recommended by Devon Williamson).

I learned from Richard Dawkins the benefits of free thought and examining all beliefs (recommended by Phil Millar).

I learned from Philip Zimbardo how close all us good people can be to doing evil, what to do about it, and what it takes to be an every day hero in our lives (recommended by Nayomi Sayers).

I learned from Benjamin Zander that pop culture may be be leading us astray in teaching us success lies in wealth, fame and power. It may, just lie in something else (recommended by Matt Ross).

Tomorrow, I begin another TED Talk. Some of the recommended Talks I am yet to watch are:

Brené Brown (recommended by Debra Watkinson)
Ken Robinson (recommended by Peter Ketelaars)
Elizabeth Gilbert (recommended by Matt Ross)
Jose Abreu (recommended by Hida Behzadi).

I’ve watched Brown’s and Robinson’s in the past, but at the request of my friends, Debra and Peter, I’m going to re-watch both.

It’s exciting times. We are living in more opportune and creative times than ever before in human history (at least as far as I know).

Not just creative in our ability to generate work that’s never existed before. But creative in our ability to generate new thoughts that we’ve never believed in before.

Simply put, there’s no excuse not to be great.

What TED Talks do you recommend?

Andrew Schiestel is the Chief of WOW! Projects at tbk Creative, a web design & social marketing agency that instigates and accelerates consumer action around brands. To contact Andrew about speaking at your upcoming web marketing & communications event, click here. Andrew can be followed on Twitter here.