The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything by Ken Robinson

What Will They Think?

  • The challenge to find your Element can come from within due to lack of confidence or fear of failure. Even disabled people can succeed with the right attitude and a strong will to be themselves. The people closest to you can also get in the way. These people often have strong views of what you should do with your life. They may be right and helpful or not. Each of us has to weigh the cost of disregarding loved ones against the cost of relinquishing our dreams. For young people, friends can have a bigger impact. The lesson here is that if someone you love has a passion, just support it.
  • The culture that surrounds you is the third barrier that Ken covers. Major obstacles also arise in schools due to the hierarchy of subjects. In some groups it’s not even cool to study. While groups can be supportive, they also encourage uniformity of thought and behavior. You can’t discover yourself trying to conform. Great social movements happen when cultural boundaries are broken. Think rock and roll for example. Sometimes you need to get out of your culture. Think Bob Dylan leaving Minnesota for New York City.

Do You Feel Lucky?

  • Good and bad things happen to all of us. It’s not so much what happens as our attitude about what happens. Research shows that you can make your own luck with the right attitude. You also need to take an active role if you want to increase your chance of getting lucky. Lucky people don’t let bad luck overwhelm them. They take control and often turn bad luck into something good. Ken cites his own story about how having polio at age five opened more doors for him than it closed.

Somebody Help Me

  • Finding your element often requires help. Sometimes someone else sees something in you that you don’t. Ken tells stories of how mentors have helped people find their Element. A mentor can turn a light on to a new world or fan the flames of interest into a genuine passion. At the very least, good mentoring can raise self-esteem and sense of purpose. A mentor can lead you to believe you can achieve something you didn’t think was possible, and they help you fight self-doubt. They can even give you hope when you have none and push you beyond your self-imposed limits. Without people to guide and push, your journey will be much harder. You might be inspired by heroes you have never met, but you also need unique and personal help from mentors. You should also look for opportunities to mentor others when the opportunity arrises.

Is It Too Late?

  • There is abundant evidence that opportunities to discover your Element exist more frequently in life than many believe. This book contain many examples of people who started following their passion later in life. One woman published her first award winning novel at age 73. You probably have a latent skill just waiting to be developed. If you feel like your life has settled into a dull routine, don’t resign yourself to it.
  • Seventy percent of American aging is not real aging, it’s decay. One way to age slower is to engage in exercise and good nutrition. You also need to keep your mind active. If there is a fountain of youth, it’s in your mind. Unless your passion requires physical skills beyond your reach, you probably still have time. For most fields, experience matters more than youth.
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One Response to “The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything by Ken Robinson”

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