Finding Your Element: How to Discover Your Talents and Passions and Transform Your Life
“. . . an accessible, actionable guide for discovering what most matters.”
What is authenticity at the personal and individual level?
In his bestselling previous book Your Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything Ken Robinson advanced the proposition that “people who live their lives in their Element . . . feel they are doing exactly what they were born to do.”
As he expresses it, “The Element is where natural meets personal path . . . doing something for which you have a natural feel . . . But being in your Element is more than doing things you were good at . . . To be in your Element you have to love it, too.”
Enthusiastic readers of Your Element bought the message, but wondered how they might tune in to their authentic selves to lead their very best lives. The Element did not offer the path for those seeking their Elements. Finding Your Element is the sequel that “builds on the core ideas . . . and offers advice, techniques and resources to putting those into practice in real life.”
In making his case for this book, Ken Robinson asks, “Why is it important to find your Element? The most important reasons are personal. Finding your Element if vital to understanding who you are and what you are capable of being and doing with your life.” The second reason is purpose, which the author suggests can be viewed as the manifestation of the human resource equivalent of natural resources; they’re often buried beneath the surface in you and you have to make an effort to find them.”
The third reason is economic. As the author advises, “There are economic reasons for finding your Element . . . knowing what your Element is will give you a much better sense of direction than certainly bouncing from one job to the next. Whatever your age, it’s the best way to find work that really fulfills you . . . If you know what your Element is, you are more likely to find ways to make a living at it.”
Finding Your Element is presented in the familiar model of what one encounters in the more effective self-help literature: easy reading, entertaining stories, not too much cognitive heavy lifting, and positive encouragement with the occasional tough love admonition.
This book combines stories and insightful examples drawn from both the author’s personal experiences and those he has encountered along his path, instructive tutorials, fundamental to the process of finding your element, and questions to prompt self-exploration. Drawing from his own work in creativity, innovation, and hunch potential, the author suggests such techniques as mind-mapping, meditation, vision boards, etc.
A particularly engaging and rewarding aspect of Finding Your Element is the stories of people and their elements, both those who knew it from the get-go and those who discover it over time. Drawn to a new direction in mid-career, a lawyer shifted his focus to photography, funding his passionate conviction by cashing in his son’s college fund, his own 401(K), and running up $80,000 credit card debt before eventually hitting it big in a must-succeed gallery show, which raised enough money to pay off all debts and then some.
Recognizing the serendipitous nature of life, he observes, “Many people started their lives moving down one path only to move in an entirely different direction later.” He advises, “You can’t plan the whole of your life’s journey and you don’t need to. But you do need to plan your next steps.”
The very diversity of the author’s stories underscores his message of individual uniqueness.
The author also includes an effective selection of provocative and inspiring quotations. For inspiration, it does not get much better than Mark Twain’s advice: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the boat lines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
Finding Your Element embraces three core principles and some 15 exercises. First, your life is unique: you can learn from the experience of other people, but you cannot and should not try to duplicate them. Second, you create your own life and you can recreate it. In doing that, your greatest resources are your own imagination and sense of possibility. Third, your life is organic, not linear.
The prescription for finding your Element follows a program of assessing individual competency; addressing what you know; identifying what you love and what makes you happy; considering your attitude and perception of possibility; the importance of “taking stock of where you are now; the resources you have already and of those you may need; finding and connecting with your tribe of “people who share your interests and passions.”
Ken Robinson concludes by observing, “Finding Your Element won’t guarantee that you’ll spend the rest of your life in a constant, unblocked state of pleasure in life. It will give you a deeper sense of who you really are and of the life you could and maybe should live.”
Finding Your Element is an accessible, actionable guide for discovering what most matters.