The Element

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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:

  • A horrible disappointment
    I decided to get this book after seeing Robinson's inspiring TED speech (search online if you haven't seen it)

    I have rarely been so disappointed by a book.

    There's virtually nothing in the book that can be seen as being useful or helpful. It's all celebrity worship. Page after page describes the lives of millionaires and famous people and how they are doing what they love.

    If anything, this book achieves the opposite of what Robinson is supposed to be about. If he had documented the lives of ordinary people who are in their element, who do work they love, he could have provide hope, role models and examples.

    He may as well have written a book about getting rich and documented the lives of lottery winners. Yes, you can play the lottery and win too.

    I find it hard to understand the positive review of this book and half suspect these are all friends, colleagues and plants extolling the books virtues.

    Don't waste your money.

    ...more info
  • It's Brilliant!
    This book is beautiful. It's witty and intelligent and much like Sir Ken Robinson's TED Talk will make you laugh out loud. However, I also found it incredibly moving, a manual on how to be truly happy with who and what you are. Above all, it gave me a sense of possibility and hope. Quite simply, this is a book for everyone....more info
  • Highly Recommended
    I have had the privilege of attending several of Sir Ken's speaking engagements (yes, he's that good), and I must say that The Element is "required reading" to those of us who follow this influential thought leader. If you haven't heard Sir Ken speak, then all the more reason to own this book....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
  • 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
  • The Element: How Finding your Passion Changes Everything
    Ken Robinson's THE ELEMENT enables the reader to understand that native intelligence and genius are within each person. His excellent personal examples of successful people who not only followed their bliss, but followed their inner guiding voice that continually evolves from their life experiences is masterful. Just as there are no two people quite alike, there are no creative gifts that are alike either. Affirming your gifts and finding outlets for them re-affirms a simple truth. If you do the thing that is will succeed.
    John Bellanti D.Ed. PCC (Professional Certified Coach)
    Coaching Through the Crossroads...more info
  • Inspiring, Enlightening, Informative--Read It and Then Put the Advice Into Action!
    I first learned of Sir Ken Robinson through watching his lecture "Do Schools Kill Creativity" free on the Internet last year (his talks have been viewed millions of times by people across the world). In that talk he mentions he was in the process of writing a book -- THE ELEMENT: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything -- is that book. I was thrilled to be able to attend a lecture, one of the first stops on the book tour to promote this book and was so inspired I bought the book immediately.

    This book's audience is every person in the world, every single one of us could benefit from reading and applying the information in this book. In addition to being about changes that a person can make in their own life during adulthood, the book also speaks to teachers and other adults who are involved in educating children. People interested in learning styles, learning disabilities, alternative education and education reform may be interested in this book. All types of artists and creative people may like to read THE ELEMENT.

    The books starts off discussing children, how all children are unique, have certain interests and natural talents; have an inborn curiosity and a capacity to learn. Sadly, school is sometimes a place where some children are stifled and changed for the worse. Despite best intentions by society for children `to become educated', the issues with designing a `one size fits all' curriculum for mass institutional schools creates its own set of problems. In an effort to raise everyone's educational level up, some fall through the cracks, or their square pegs don't fit in the round holes. The way modern schooling is conducted damages some children. Attempts to educate all children to one standard plan does not allow all children with varying natural talents to shine. The very method of institutional schooling with its standard teaching and standardized testing not to mention the effects in American public schools of No Child Left Behind (when teachers are spending lots of class time teaching to the test or perfecting test taking skills) trains children to think there is only one right answer, therefore killing the creativity that was present within the child before they stepped foot in school. The book is a call for education reformation (transformation) but the author stops short before actionable suggestions are made (I suspect because the issue has been discussed ad nauseum by others over many years time, and still the system is still far from ideal). But, the ideas in the book may plant seeds of change within the minds of school teachers, administrators and parents, and perhaps others can come up with creative ideas on how to affect real change. If not, the individual can always use the advice in this book on themselves when they are teenagers or adults.

    Discussed is the fact that children who were labeled with conditions such as ADD/ADHD or who are deemed learning disabled were made to feel they are broken, different (in a bad way), or stupid. We hear stories of some people who found passion in other areas of life that were not the focus in traditional schools (especially the arts) but wound up not just fulfilled but successful at their job, wealthy and with celebrity status, sometimes with their area of strength being directly from their `disability'. Somehow, the book manages to come off pro-teacher though, in no way is this book an attack on the teaching profession in general.

    The book then shifts to a discussion of creativity and of the flow state (citing the work of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi ) and encourages everyone to find their creative selves. It is never too late. Adults can find their passion, in spite of any past negative experiences. We can use our passions to do creative work of our choosing, even in the spare time left over after our main work is completed (such as a full-time job to earn a paycheck) while provides a feeling of fulfillment that impacts their entire life in a positive way. Sir Ken Robinson seems to hope that all people would find their passion in life (including in mid-life or in one's twilight years) and to not just focus on getting through life with a more basic survival mentality, bored and feeling empty inside but making ends meet (or living with large paychecks but still unhappy). Some people wind up finding a way to pursue their passion full time and can make a living from it too. These ideas are matched with many real life stories, many from personal interviews.

    Advice on how to find one's passion, how to quiet the voices of the naysayers, and how to find new support by finding one's tribe is discussed. Attitude is very important as is seeking opportunities, not just relying on luck. Robinson outlines his steps to put these ideas into practical application. A thorough discussion of what creativity is and how to take practical steps to use creativity and make things happen is not just inspirational but makes it clear that all people can begin living a creative life at any time they choose to open their minds to the notion and commit to taking active steps to make it happen.

    I absolutely loved the book!

    The book was a fast and easy read. Research studies are cited to back up some of the information and statistics, so it is not just a book of opinion and personal theories. References are made to ideas contained in books written by others and my interest was piqued enough to go on to read those next.

    I have a few criticisms about the book. (Despite these I love the book and still rate it 5 stars!)

    1. About two-third's into the book I became bored of so many personal stories about celebrities or those who achieved personal wealth through pursuit of their passion (i.e. CEOs and others at the `top of the status chart'). It was a bit too much like "celebrity worship" or "rich people worship", something I don't do. He doesn't just discuss happy musicians but tells the story of Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and Elvis--some of the biggest names in music history!

    2. Some evidence for the over-emphasis on the rich and famous is that despite an entire chapter being about how `regular people' can pursue their passion in one's `spare time' and feel fulfilled but never get rich or famous from what they do, there are not enough stories about that type of experience. I'm impressed and inspired by all kinds of success stories and I am sure that others are too.

    3. There is a great discussion of "professional amateurs" (aka Pro-Am's) which is about some people being experts on a subject despite not getting paid to do learn or do that kind of work for pay, but the weird thing is that only two stories in the chapter feature happy people pursuing their passion that didn't wind up winning an award or becoming famous or transforming it into a full-time job/paid career!

    A comment I'd like to make about Pro-Am's is that a perfect example are the Generation X mothers today (like me), who are college educated and had good careers, but left their careers to raise children then wound up using their extra time and energy to find their creativity and to pursue their passion. I can also say that of the past generations of women who society labeled as being 'just housewives' (assuming their lives were boring and unfulfilling), some actually had discovered their passion and were living it (like my mother and my grandmothers did).

    A comment (not a complaint) I will share is that some of the advice is self-help advice common in a number of other, older books about self-actualization on the market. THE ELEMENT does have a different spin and twist--this was fine with me (because I feel that hearing good advice numerous times and from different sources is useful) but some readers who've read other books about self-help, attitude or self-actualization who want completely new and fresh ideas may be a little disappointed.

    As a home educating parent who chose this path for my children for an `alternative education' experience reason primarily, I will share that the book never discusses home education as a viable option for children who are suffering or not thriving in school, those with learning disabilities or whose natural talent for the arts are not being nurtured in mainstream public schools. Homeschooling parents will probably enjoy this book as the good messages contained in it can be applied in the homeschooling journey down the alternative education path.

    The book is fantastic and inspirational. Read it and use the good advice it contains!...more info
  • brilliant and inspiring
    There are only a few books that have inspired me as much as this book. I sent it to at least 20 people. I read it in 2 days and have gone back to it a few times since. I didn't feel like I learned new things by reading it--however-- the way Ken communicates his perspective and articulates anecdotes is, in my opinion, very effective. I could not agree more that we need to change the conversation about the way we support our young people in this country-teaching to standards is not unimportant--but--is it really helping young people to be empowered? To gain critical thinking skills? To learn how to express themselves in healthy, thoughtful ways? I don't think so.

    Many of our nation's most disadvantaged youth have never been exposed to the "other" America outside their neighborhood. In order for them to gain ideas, have hope and see a future for themselves--we(caring adults)--as a country--need to help them discover their gifts. We need to expose them to ideas and encourage them to think outside the box to solve problems in their communities. We need to help them understand why what they are learning in school is relevant. The Element is a fine starting point for that conversation. I think every person who has young people in their life should read this book- parents, teachers, program youth workers and administrators. The business community also has so many opportunities to foster creativity in young people--as these kids are their future workforce, future consumer and future vendor. This is a book that anyone will benefit from reading--then they need to get "creative" on how we tackle the problem. Let's give young people the support and opportunities they need to get into their ELEMENT. Well done, Ken, well done.
    ...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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • Read, Reflect, Act
    While Ken Robinson intends this book for the general public, from my perspective as an educator, it is a must read for teachers and administrators in public and private education. I would also suggest that they look at his earlier works as well. He is a passionate supporter of the kind of education we are quickly losing to high-stakes testing and a narrow view of what the curriculum should be. While focusing on the individual, he offers many lessons much needed in our schools. I have watched Sir Ken hold an audience of over 500 people in the palm of his hand for over an hour. This book reflects some of the passion and good humor of that experience. I suggest also you go to the internet and listen to his presentation to TED and others that are available there.

    I would like to add to this review a response to that of Paula Macintyre. There is no indication in her review that she has read the Element. And the sly insinuation that Sir Ken has merely "repackaged" the ideas of Julia Cameron is nonsense! Sir Ken has fought long and hard over thirty years to bring the arts into their proper place as a central part of the school curriculum. I suggest that anyone interested start with his 1980s report on the arts in the schools (available on amazon) and move forward from there. I am an admirer of Julia Cameron's work; I doubt that she would appreciate support that denigrates the work of another, especially someone who has dedicated his life to this work....more info
  • frustrating
    I borrowed and read The Element before reading any of your reviews.
    My initial reaction to the first quarter of The Element was YES!! I've been saying for years that schools are killing creativity & individuality. But as the book wore on reporting on one rich and famous person after another, I became sad that my life seems to be slipping away and I've done nothing to the betterment of my community or the world. Then a few chapters later I was uplifted to find that it's still not too late. So great, I'm ready, so how? And then the book ends.
    HOW?, I scream How?!!!
    I was also disheartened that there weren't more examples of ordinary people, like Dr. Robinson's mother, who contributed to their families and communities by using intangible, compassion, service, organization. Being able to plan and execute an outing for disabled children to celebrate Earth Day is just as much a talent as acting or playing the piano. Doesn't get you much press and certainly doesn't make the Forbes 500 in salaries, but it's rewarding.
    I enjoyed the book, but it left me frustrated....more info
  • Determining what we do well and what we do easily
    This book could well go down as one of the most important books of the 21st Century. Sir Ken Robinson is one of the formost thinkers of our time.

    Allan Hunkin, Author
    "Finding The Elegant Solution In Any Situation"...more info
  • Julia Cameron
    Although I do appreciate anyone bringing attention to the importance of creativity to education and a thriving society (and I LOVED Sir Robinson's amazing talk at TED) I have one thing to say: Julia Cameron. In 1993, Julia Cameron wrote The Artist's Way and went on to write many books on creativity (one of her latest, Walking in the World, is a wonderful follow-up to The Artist's Way). Both of these books are in workbook form and truly guide you toward uncovering your passion. She was way ahead of her time and a whole lot of people have made a lot of money taking her ideas and repackaging them as their own. If you really want to discover "the element" for yourself, do the work in Julia Cameron's books! ...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 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • Excellent Overview of Intelligence and Creativity
    The book covers many of the stories that Sir Ken tells in his talks, including his Ted Talk at [...]. Although the stories are repeated Sir Ken goes into greater detail on his views of intelligence and creativity. Every person involved in education should read this book. ...more info
  • Amazing!!
    This book is incredible! It's so funny and easy to read, but at the same time inspirational and motivating. I'm going to start taking as many classes as possible to find out what puts me in my Element! I recommend it to EVERYBODY!...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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