The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything
The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything

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From one of the world?s leading thinkers and speakers on creativity and self-fulfillment, a breakthrough book about talent, passion, and achievement

The element is the point at which natural talent meets personal passion. When people arrive at the element, they feel most themselves and most inspired and achieve at their highest levels. The Element draws on the stories of a wide range of people, from ex-Beatle Paul McCartney to Matt Groening, creator of The Simpsons; from Meg Ryan to Gillian Lynne, who choreographed the Broadway productions of Cats and The Phantom of the Opera; and from writer Arianna Huffington to renowned physicist Richard Feynman and others, including business leaders and athletes. It explores the components of this new paradigm: The diversity of intelligence, the power of imagination and creativity, and the importance of commitment to our own capabilities.

With a wry sense of humor, Ken Robinson looks at the conditions that enable us to find ourselves in the element and those that stifle that possibility. He shows that age and occupation are no barrier, and that once we have found our path we can help others to do so as well. The Element shows the vital need to enhance creativity and innovation by thinking differently about human resources and imagination. It is also an essential strategy for transforming education, business, and communities to meet the challenges of living and succeeding in the twenty-first century.

Customer Reviews:

  • Timely Read for Those Seeking Their Next Job ... More So, Career
    Having been recently laid off and having not been totally impassioned by my recent employment, reading "The Element" has proven timely. Particularly useful its Ken Robinson's underlying quadrichotomy: Aptitude (I get it), Passion (I love it), Attitude (I want it), and Opportunity (Where is it)? As I seek my next opportunity - as an employee, or with further growth of my own consulting business - I will ensure I find what I love so I get what I want. In the spirit of the "Beyond Imagining" chapter, I shall create this not simply imagine it.

    I did find Robinson's last two chapters somewhat irritating. In them - particularly "Making the Grade" - Robinson gets close to whining about the state of education. I felt he had lost his own positive message from the earlier chapters.

    All in all an inspiring read ... now it's up to me to put it all in practice....more info
  • Great Book About Passion !!
    There are two main themes in this book. The first theme emphasized that we need to find the element (passion or talent) in us and follow our calling in order to have a life that is more successful and fulfilled.

    The second theme is on the state of our education system. Our education system, which inherits from the industrial revolution, has the tendency to produce mediocre individual by conformity and marginalized a lot of people with great potential. People are different, both physiologically and psychologically. Our education system which is design for a particular type of people does not always applies to every children, because of this reason, children with special talents but who do not fit into the education system are being cast out. This is a great loss to our society and civilization.

    This is a great book. This book speaks for me the views I have about passion (or Element) and our education system.

    I would also like to recommend another similar book titled Success Built to Last.

    This book only emphasized the importance of passion but offers no technique in finding them. For readers who would like to know how to discover your passion or hidden potential. I would recommend Now, Discover Your Strengths or StrengthsFinder 2.0: A New and Upgraded Edition of the Online Test from Gallup's Now, Discover Your Strengths. Both books contain an online test administered by Gallup, that could help you to find your potential. For those who do not wish to take the online test, I would recommend Go Put Your Strengths to Work: 6 Powerful Steps to Achieve Outstanding Performance

    After you have discovered your passion and your potential, it is time for you to work on it and to develop those potential into strength. I would recommend this book Talent Is Never Enough: Discover the Choices That Will Take You Beyond Your Talent. ...more info
  • Every parent must read this book!!!!
    I highly recommend this wonderful book to EVERYONE. The Element speaks to the soul by explaining how finding your life's passion will truly change everything. Finding this book changed everything for me. It helped me realize that my years of struggling in school had nothing to do with my intelligence and everything to do with how I was educated. The Element feels like several books in one. Its about discovering how you're creative, how you're intelligent, finding your tribe and taking the steps in the right direction towards doing what you are meant to do...AND at any age. Its never too late.

    As an expectant mother, I feel reading this book is the best gift I could have given to my child. I look forward to watching my child grow...looking for and encouraging her unique abililities and talents...hopefully guiding her to finding her passion....more info
  • A silly misguided book
    This is such a silly book. Worse, its therapies are misguided.

    The author rails against traditional education that emphasizes reading, writing, and math. He also dislikes the standardized tests that students across the country must take.

    How misguided! To get a good job, one that is interesting and fulfulling, you must gain foundational skills in these three areas. It is absolutely imperative for most students. There are a few exceptions, but how many people have the superb native talent of a Mozart or an Einstein?

    Once you have these foundational skills, you build upon them in the field of study you enjoy. Then you can go anywhere, do anything. And probably get well paid for it. At least in America. But getting those foundational skills in the first place requires often boring routine study and some rote learning. That is a hard truth that many modern educators rebel against. But there doesn't seem to be any shortcut around it.

    There is so much to disagree with in this book. For example, the author says once you are cast as a certain type in a corporation, you are stuck with that role. I disagree entirely. The author is British, and maybe that is true of corporations in the UK. But not in the USA. I have worked many years for several American corporations, both big and small, and almost without exception, they are open to advancement by their employees. They consider it win-win -- the corporation wins and the employee wins.

    For example, if you are a 'science' type or a 'financial' type who wants to strike out into new territory, let's say into advertising or sales, many corporations will welcome you. Here's why: So few people in their advertising department have a clue about science, logic, and numbers, they welcome your background and expertise. In fact, you can often write your own ticket in such situations. You already know what the science side of the house is thinking, ie, their mentality and their approach to problem-solving. That can be very valuable in the right circles.

    But the point is you need (at least) a foundational education in reading, writing, and math. You can't get around it. When you have that foundation, the sky's the limit -- you can pursue virtually any career, you can go wherever you like. Without that foundation, you will likely flounder around for the rest of your life, possibly become a burden to your family and to society -- unless you are very exceptional.

    The author points to several exceptional talents, eg Paul McCartney, whose undiscovered talent was overlooked by his school system. McCartney is indeed an exceptional talent, and whose talent eventually shone through, as has the talent of countless songwriters in the past. Did Harold Arlen or Richard Rodgers, the creators of melodies at least as beautiful as any of McCartney's, go to special schools or follow a special curriculum? Of course not. Is McCartney representative of most students, even a few students? Hardly. I suspect that the majority of students put into special programs, thinking they're the next Paul McCartney, would end up being very disappointed. Worse, they may end up being a derelict with skills that are valued by nobody.

    You only have a few precious years to learn foundational skills. Let's not waste them by following pie-in-the sky, unproven, and dangerous theories like this author's....more info
  • Nice stories, but no practical application.
    This book is filled with somewhat uplifting stories mostly about celebrities or otherwise famous individuals and how they reached success. There was no real guidelines for practical application in the average person's life. The book just really was not interesting enough for me and wish it was laid out in bullet points with steps to reach that goal listed underneath. I wish he had shared stories about the average "Joe or Jane" and how they made the most of being in their "Element". I wish I had saved my money and went to the local library and checked out "The Artist's Way" by Julia Cameron. ...more info
  • Could be misleading
    I first heard about this book in the "Huckabee" show and I ran to the bookstore to get it for my college kid. Even though the topic is enlightening and the information he brings up makes a lot of sense, it can be grossly misconstrued. I think the message is great but the title is misleading. He should have made it clear this book had an agenda about changing education, so that we had a choice whether we wanted to read it or not.

    I can't help it but feel it can mislead kids into thinking they should "drop out of college to pursue their dreams". He glorifies people who did not make through college to pursue their dreams, even though they are the exception, not the rule (i.e the Virgin guy).

    For a kid who is putting all his time into pursuing a college education and somebody comes out of the blue and tells you, "you may be wasting all your efforts, because unemployment is the same whether you are college educated or just have a high school diploma"...can have a devastating effect. I would warn parents to read this book before giving it to their kids to make sure you really want to get this message across. ...more info
  • The Element by Ken Robinson
    This is a great book! It is relevant and inspiring on many different levels for teens through seniors. I have passed my copy around to several college age students, teachers and friends in their 50's. The book is very well written in that it progresses nicely from the beginning to the end without repeating itself. The case studies sited (Mick Fleetwood, Ridley Scott, Matt Groening, The Travelling Willburys, Zaha Hadid...) are very interesting including the authors own experiences.
    I originally heard the author speak on the Mike Huckabee show which caused me to order the book.

    ps This is the only book I have ever bothered to review....more info
  • A Great Book for Tough Time
    Dr. Robinson is one of the best minds of our time. I have read his previous book "Out of Our Minds" and decided to read his second book after hearing him talking at TED meetings.
    This book should be moved to the Business and Management section. It complements the work of: Marcus Buckingham on Strengths Movement and Malcolm Gladwell's "Outliers." The core idea of "The Element" is how to find your way and excel through empowering your strengths, talents and endowments, by not surrounding to how others see you, and how you had been educated.
    This book is for everyone, from school students, teachers, planners, HR Managers, to those who never listen: "Politicians."
    ...more info
  • Finding your "Element"
    As for many others, I've discovered Sir Robinson's work through his amazing talk at TED (google it, it's free and inspiring). Since then, I've sought out any opportunity to hear him speak and have never been disappointed. As for "The Element", well, it is now my favorite gift for all of my friends and my family.

    Finding your "Element" is about finding that magic intersection of your passions and what you're innately good at. We commonly refer to people in this state as "in the zone", a highly creative and fulfilling state where time flies and "work" takes on a complete different meaning. Unfortunately, as Sir Robinson points out, our schools and pedagogical methods which were designed for the industrial age often stifle our creativity, and hence most people never discover their "element". A big portion of the book is spent on the analysis of our educational systems, and for that reason, you'll find many reviewers recommending the book to the teachers. However, to target the educators is to miss the fact that each and every one of us has an enormous impact on the lives of everybody around us: friends, family, and children.

    The messages in this book are nothing short of inspiring. "The Element" will help you discover your passions and become a better mentor to your friends and your family. Highly recommended....more info
  • Obtuse, longwinded, self absorbed
    The premise: Find success stories of those who were criticized early in life by those who did not recognize their talents. The plan: Work backwards and say, "Wow! They did it anyway."

    What an obtuse bore. I saw this guy interviewed on Huckabee, too, and thought that the book would rate with a Malcolm Gladwell read. Not even close. There are few facts and longwinded observations that trek into the all too obvious. I'm 53 pages in and feel like I haven't made it past the introduction. It's a tedious read--one that would be assigned in an education class. Not as bad as "Hooked on Books," but it belongs on the same shelf. It's no surprise to me that the author is an educator.

    Blah. Blah. Blah.

    What a serious disappointment....more info
  • Find Your Element and Live a Fulfilling Life
    When you are engaged in something you do well and really like you are in "the element", according to author Ken Robinson. Being in the element is good because you will be mostly happy as you undertake the activity about which you are most passionate and most enjoy. The problem with education today is that it is not at all geared to find the things that students most like and are most good at; instead, modern education seeks to meet whatever new curriculum standard is in vogue, particularly when those standards are nationalized into tests. In addition, education tends to place subjects in a hierarchy, with those supporting the professions, like medicine and law, at the top.

    Robinson gives ample examples of individuals who found their element outside of education - Paul McCartney and John Lennon of the Beatles, dancers, painters and others. But Robinson is not making the case that it is just performance artists who find their element; there are also others like mathematicians and scientists. The worst problem arises when individuals are guided towards professions for which they may have talent, but for which they have no real passion. Robinson gives an example of an orthopedic surgeon who was miserable in her profession and transitioned into a shoe designer. And then there are others who never escape from their un-elemental traps, likely living Thoruea's "lives of quiet desperation", earning a living but not really living fully. For those individuals this book is a lamentation. For current educators and parents, the book is a call to seek your children's calling, and help them find their element, so that they may live lives of satisfaction and fulfillment.
    ...more info
  • Jobseekers: Stop reading the unemployment statistics and read this book instead
    The subtitle of Ken Robinson's new book is How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything. Robinson writes about In The Zone moments where time flies by and you are totally absorbed. As identifying these moments is what I ask of my own coaching clients. I obviously buy into Robinson's theory that you will most likely thrive in what you enjoy doing. An added bonus are the numerous, inspirational examples of people in their "Element".

    The book has chapters for key questions such as:

    Finding a community support system -- Robinson refers to this as your "tribe"

    Dealing with family and friends who might not be supportive

    Finding mentors

    Identifying your passion later in life

    Handling money issues when your passion might not pay

    While Robinson writes about life and vocation in general, all of these issues are critical for the job search as well. You need a support system -- a job search group, a coach. You need to guard against people giving bad advice or discouraging you -- I advise my clients to limit their media consumption and to not listen to family and friends who may have out of date advice. You need outside help -- that's why networking is so important. You need to recognize that it's never too late -- even if your job search has stalled or you procrastinated and didn't start as early as you should, you can still start anew with a better, more productive search from this day on. You need to consider and decide on the money issues -- you have to support yourself and as Robinson notes, you don't necessarily have to do that with your burning passion nor do you have to give up your passion to support yourself.

    It's always nice to hear how other people achieve success -- in the case of Robinson's book, the success of doing what they love. It provides encouragement when the day-to-day job search may get you down. Stop reading the unemployment statistics and the dismal stock market news, and surround yourself with positive words of encouragement, such as the wonderful stories and advice shared in "The Element".
    ...more info
  • Worth reading..
    I ordered the book after watching the truly inspiring video on TED's talk.
    Although I enjoyed it,the repetition of the lives of the rich and famous who actually did it (found their 'element')kind of bored and tired me.
    I think he should have put more emphasis on how everyday people have found their element and I think it doesn't necessarily have to do with profit and fame.
    When I finished it,I felt as if he was 'urged' or 'pressed' to publish..
    Still,it is worth reading! ...more info
  • An Inspiring Page-Turner
    I first saw Ken Robinson in a TED Talk a few months ago. (Google: TED Ken Robinson) He was witty and engaging. Most TED Talks are, but Ken Robinson is in the Pareto top 20% or so (in my view) and so is his book The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything. I had recently read Daniel Pink A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future and was open to this kind of encouragement of creative thinking and working in an ever-changing world.

    The book is a true page-turner, with personal examples, at least a few of which I was familiar with, and struck home with their telling fine line between an ordinary life and the extraordinary lives they turned out to be, just because there was an inspiring and observant teacher, doctor, parent, or mentor at hand during a critical period.

    Many of the examples are of youthful discoveries of their personal Element that became their passion and life endeavor. But others are of middle aged and older people. I'm reminded that Thomas Hobbes didn't write his great book Leviathan (Oxford World's Classics) until he was around 50.

    And the shear coincidentality of the the discoveries is almost frightening. I've just finished reading Bomb, Book and Compass: Joseph Needham and the Great Secrets of China. by Simon Winchester in which an almost chance meeting and romance of Joseph Needham and a Chinese postgraduate student led to the conception, research, writing, and publication of Science and Civilization in China. Volume 1: Introductory Orientations and his life's work.

    We don't know what may be around the corner which will inspire us to greatness, or at the very least to a personal passion that we would not do without once discovered. The Element will give you pointers to how to recognize and even create the conditions for finding your own Element....more info
  • An Inspiring Book
    This book is a must read for everyone! It would be so refreshing and beneficial if schools everywhere adopted his method of creative learning. I plan to buy this book for every high school and college graduate I know. It is a motiviating,inspiring,witty read for all ages. ...more info
  • A Must Read for Every Parent
    This is an incredible book for everyone and especially parents. First, see Sir Kenneth's talk on TED and then get the book. Sir Kenneth's style and wit will come through even more profoundly. ...more info
  • Delivers all that was promised.
    Purchased this book for a graduate study course in Adult and Community Education book review project. Excellent read. Full of information and stats. The stories of real people were an added treat. The book is now covered with sticky tabs and highlighted text....more info
  • A powerful message for educators and parents
    Sir Ken Robinson is a must read for educators and parents. He not only writes about the importance of finding your passion and the intersection between what you love and what you're good at, he offers numerous suggestions for how educators and parents can help themselves and our children discover their Element. Interestingly, this book is a perfect companion to Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers, a book about achieving success. Gladwell's suggestion that luck and practice contribute to achieving the pinnacle of success and Sir Ken's suggestions for how to increase the likelihood of that happening (through discovery and exposure that might help one discover what they might want to put 10,000 hours of practice into) make for something a lot greater than an interesting read. They give us the beginning of a roadmap....more info
  • A Great Read for Coaches!
    Ken Robinson has done a great job in helping people understand how life can blossum when they start living at the intersection of passion and talent. As a coach I work with clients who are sometimes open to discovering new talents and a career path filled with greater purpose and meaning. This book provides a wealth of examples of people at all stages of life finding their life purpose and then living it fully. Through skillful coaching and mentoring, we can help our clients in this discovery and rebirth process as they find their element. This can bring creativity and generativity to their life as they live it reinvigorated with a new sense of purpose and meaning. ...more info
  • What we can accomplish when "drawn effortlessly into the heart of the Element."

    Why did Ken Robinson write this book? He explains in his Introduction: "My aim in writing it [with Lou Aroniva's assistance] is to offer a richer vision of human ability and creativity and of the benefits to us all of connecting properly with our individual talents and passions. This book is about issues that are of fundamental importance in our lives and in the lives of our children, our students, and the people we work with. I use the term [in italics] the Element [end italics] to describe the place where the things we love and the things we are good at come together. I believe it is essential that each of us find his or her Element, not simply because it will make us more fulfilled but because, as the world evolves, the very future of our communities and institutions will depend on it." Throughout his narrative, Robinson cites dozens of examples of people who have made the best of themselves and of others by embracing "a richer conception of human capacity." They have embraced the Element.

    At one point, Robinson poses an important question to his reader: How are you intelligent? "Knowing that intelligence is diverse, dynamic, and distinctive allows you to address that question in new ways. This is one of the core elements of the Element." When people are in what is often referred to as "the zone," they are deep in the heart of the Element. "We become focused and intent. We live in the moment. We become lost in the experience and perform at our peak. Our breathing changes, our minds merge with our bodies, and we feel ourselves drawn effortlessly into the heart of the Element." I vividly recall Michael Jordan sinking one three-point shot after another ("all net"), especially in playoff games. The same can be said of creative and performing artists as well as athletes who have found a "new richness and balance to their lives...a more dynamic, organic conception of human existence in which the different parts of [their] lives are not seen as hermetically sealed off from one another but as interacting and influencing each other." They are "on a roll" because everything "clicks"...they are in the Element.

    Ken Robinson urges his readers to find the Element in themselves and to encourage others to do so, also. "If we fail at that, we may get by, but our lives will be duller as a result." The greater challenge, Robinson suggests, is to develop - consciously and rigorously - our powers of imagination and creativity "within a different framework of human purpose." He concludes his brilliant book and I conclude this review of it with an especially appropriate observation by Michelangelo: "The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it."

    Those who share my high regard for this book are urged to check out Henry David Thoreau's Walden, James O'Toole's The Executive's Compass: Business and the Good Society, Michael Ray's The Highest Goal: The Secret That Sustains You in Every Moment, Eckhart Tolle's The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment and A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose, and Bill George's True North: Discover Your Authentic Leadership (with Peter Sims). ...more info


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