Sir Ken Robinson‘s latest book (2009), “The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything” tackles how to live your passion — how to be in your element. I’ve had the pleasure of hearing Robinson speak in person when he was a guest at the University where I work, and enjoyed how he spoke so freely about creative minds, education reform and how to be authentically you. It’s clear that Robinson’s own passion drives his talks and books.
Creativity VS. Intelligence
Robinson gets people to think. He easily engages his audience with questions of creativity versus intelligence. He has the members of the audience raise their hands based on a scale of how intelligent they think they are. Then, he does the same for how creative they think they are. Then he explains that intelligence and creativity are “blood relatives” — most people think they are one, but not both.
If you’ve never seen him speak or read his books, you should take a moment and read through this engaging book about life and how to make the most of your time. It’s not an organization or time management book, it’s a book of thought. How to think differently. How to realize that what you enjoy doing is probably what you are good at doing. The two go together.
Parenting and Education
It’s the perfect book for parents: especially if you have a creative child. Not every child is going to go to an Ivy League college. Some may be better off following a different path. And, that’s OK. Robinson is an advocate for education reform and is known for working with school and universities.
Throughout the book there are great stories about how people became successful after great adversity. Two of my favorite stories he tells are about Elvis, yes, the Elvis Presley and the Paul McCartney.
- Elvis wasn’t allowed in his school’s glee club.
- Paul McCartney didn’t enjoy music at school. He applied to the choir and was turned down.
Can you even believe this? And there are more stories like this in the book. Stories about now famous people were bored in school or didn’t do well in school. The schools did nothing to help figure out how to help these kids. To find out what makes them tick. It’s only by luck that they were able to find someone who did help them become the person they are today.
What is The Element?
Robinson covers a lot in the book, but here are some main take-aways:
- “The element is the meeting place between natural aptitude and personal passion.“
- “Do what you love. It will feel like you. It will be authentic.”
- Being in the zone –when you are in “the zone” time moves quickly. If you watch the clock at your job, it’s probably not the one in your zone.
- Is it too late? Julia Child didn’t start living her passion until she was in her 40s, yet she’s one of the most famous cooks of our time.
I can’t summarize this book enough in one blog post. Robinson is a great storyteller, sprinkling humor with his own personal stories as well as stories of triumph about others. It’s a great, inspiring read. Find out for yourself.
Photo credit: Stock.xchng by artist ngould
- Sir Ken Robinson’s official Web site
- “The Element,” book information
- Sir Ken’s “Do School’s Kill Creativity?” on Ted.com
- An excellent review of “The Element,” by Heather Davis, a Ph.D. candidate. She mentions that “his [Robinson] book sits nicely with Malcolm Gladwellâ€™s … â€œOutliersâ€ (2008) where Gladwell argues in a similar vein that success is due, mostly, from luck, circumstance and openness to new ideas.”