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Ted Talks Daily / – Why change is so scary — and how to unlock its potential | Maya Shankar

Ted Talks Daily – Why change is so scary — and how to unlock its potential | Maya Shankar

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In this episode of Ted Talks Daily, Maya Shankar explores why change can be so scary and how we can unlock its potential. She shares inspiring stories and practical strategies to embrace unexpected change and expand ourselves in the process.

Main Takeaways

Embracing Unexpected Change

  • Change can be scary, especially the unexpected kind.
  • Unexpected change can inspire lasting change within us.
  • Change can actually expand us, rather than limiting us.

Questions for Navigating Change

  • Three questions to ask yourself when life throws you a curveball.
  • Question 1: What new capabilities have I gained? (Inspired by Christine Ha’s story)
  • Christine Ha struggled with cooking after losing her vision.
  • She found joy in overcoming challenges and learning new skills.
  • Cooking is a multi-sensory experience.
  • We underestimate how much we can change and adapt to new situations.
  • Christine Ha became a world-renowned chef and owns three restaurants.

Redefining Self and Values

  • Defining oneself by what energizes them, not just their pursuits.
  • Staying open to internal change can help weather unexpected storms.
  • Asking oneself how unexpected challenges can change capabilities, values, and self-definition.
  • Imagining a future self that expands the definition of parenting.
  • Seeing change with more possibility can be freeing.


Embracing Unexpected Change

Maya Shankar highlights how change, especially the unexpected kind, can be daunting. However, she emphasizes that unexpected change has the potential to inspire lasting transformations within us. Instead of viewing change as limiting, we can embrace it as an opportunity for personal growth and expansion.

Questions for Navigating Change

Shankar introduces three questions to help navigate unexpected change. Inspired by Christine Ha’s story, the first question encourages us to reflect on the new capabilities we have gained through our experiences. Ha, who faced cooking challenges after losing her vision, found joy in overcoming obstacles and acquiring new skills. By recognizing our ability to adapt and learn, we can approach change with a more optimistic mindset.

Shankar highlights the multi-sensory nature of cooking, reminding us that we often underestimate our capacity to change and adapt to new situations. She shares Ha’s remarkable journey, where she transformed from struggling with cooking to becoming a world-renowned chef and owning three restaurants.

Redefining Self and Values

Shankar emphasizes the importance of defining ourselves by what energizes us, rather than solely focusing on our pursuits. By staying open to internal change, we can better navigate unexpected storms in life. Shankar encourages us to reflect on how unexpected challenges can shape our capabilities, values, and self-definition. She invites us to imagine a future self that expands the definition of parenting and sees change as an opportunity for growth and possibility.


Maya Shankar’s talk reminds us that change, even the unexpected kind, can lead to personal transformation and expansion. By asking ourselves empowering questions and embracing change with an open mindset, we can unlock its potential and discover new capabilities within ourselves.

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