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Book Review: The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything ~ Sir Ken Robinson, PhD

Flowers Opening

Flowers Opening

I got a little afraid of spreading my wings and venturing forth after my Detox regime this past spring.  I think I was a wee bit overtaken by getting exactly what I had asked for.  It was not what I was expecting and that was surprising.  My mind was a bit sluggish after removing all kinds of sweets or brain food from my diet.

I set out to recapture and lay claim to my creative energies and I just needed some plain old fashioned inspiration to move me forward.

Several fellow bloggers sent me the link to a TED lecture by Dr. Robinson, and I got it in my newsletter group also.  I usually follow the rule of 3, so when I found this book reported on Abundance-blog Marelisa- online I tracked down my own personal copy and began.

I do very much like books about how other folks have succeeded or found their right path.  This book was a nice stepping stone pace from one persons discovery to the next and it is quite a serious look at the way schools are zapping out the creativity of the students.   The basics in education do not offer enough exposure to the vast array of passions one might pursue in life and can often make individuals feel inadequate, mediocre and even a produce a sense of failure.

  • The Element is the meeting point between natural aptitude and personal passion.
  • The Element has two main features, and there are two conditions for being in it.  The features are aptitude and passion.  The conditions are attitude and opportunity.  The sequence goes something like this:  I get it; I love it; I want it; Where is it?

I have often heard the Element referred to as being in the zone.  I was in one of my zones when I was officiating the last wedding  and I often get in zone when I am writing.  My good coach thinks I must also arrive there when I am cooking and I am often there when I am teaching on the college level – almost anything.

Two important ideas that were highlighted in this book for me were that sometimes finding your tribe or a mentor is the best way to discovering one’s passion.  I think this is crucial for many children and I must not be alone in this thinking because there are certainly teachers who step out of the rank and file to assist a child in finding a niche or tribe and even that something special that makes everything come alive.

The second idea I resonated with is Robinson’s concept of the PRO-AM.  This is a person who has a profession and celebrates the passion with an amateur status.  They treat their passion with the same respect as their profession and probably work just as hard, they just choose not to make it their vocation.

All of the stories of the big name folks and even the plainer folks were great and one could identify with each situation.  I think this book can spark one’s creativity and that it would be a good book for even young adult readers to assist them in making choices that become mentoring to their passions.

I thought I would share the link to the TED video because it can intrigue a spark too.

Do you think you know your Element?  How did you get there, just by accident, via a mentor  or were you driven there early in life?   Did someone offer you guidance that helped you take off?  How do you spark your creativity?

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24 Responses to “Book Review: The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything ~ Sir Ken Robinson, PhD”

  1. Arts web show Says:

    I totally agree with this.
    My statement and standing point with what i do is that we humans are capable of so much more than we believe.
    The video talk hit the nail right on the head.
    I enjoyed the talk so much, i watched it twice.
    Great post
    .-= Arts web show´s last blog ..Disappointments in drawing and sore losers =-.

  2. Talon Says:

    Creativity is such a unique thing. When I think of the people I know who are creative, the types and variations of the creativity is almost mind-boggling. And not just artistic creativity, but in science, technology, mathematics…

    Inspiration to manifest the creativity – that’s also interesting. I don’t often ponder where my inspiration comes from. Sometimes there’s a clear path from seeing or hearing something (the moon, a snatch of conversation, etc.) and sometimes the evolution of the inspiration is so complex and twisted, it would be like trying to put back together a peeled and segmented orange – it would retain its shape, but nothing would fit snugly again and it would fall apart.

    Fascinating post, Patricia. You always leave me thinking and I thank you for it. :)
    .-= Talon´s last blog ..Susie One and Susie Two =-.

  3. vered | blogger for hire Says:

    All I know is that most of the time (but not all of the time) I feel happy and fulfilled. If I were to die today, I would have no regrets.
    .-= vered | blogger for hire´s last blog ..My Post on Christina Hendricks I Take it Back =-.

  4. Patricia Says:

    Arts Web Show,
    I totally enjoyed researching this post and reading the book – it was a very positive experience and I am glad you enjoyed reading it Thank you

  5. Patricia Says:

    I am glad it I gave you something the think about – that is a great compliment coming from you. I think I am quite interested in this creativity business because Dsycalcula keeps me from using parts of my brain function – the creative is ON all the time and the linear mathematical is OFF all the time without both working it appears very difficult to ever get into the “zone” or the “Element” So this post is about what I am attempting to do for myself…How do I achieve this in my life? and become a co-creator of a more creative world? of as my mum would have said, ” how can I leave this world a better place than it already is?”
    .-= Patricia´s last blog ..Book Review- The Element- How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything Sir Ken Robinson- PhD =-.

  6. Patricia Says:

    …then I would suggest that you are in your Zone…and I am quite sure of it, when I read you as being able to write such fabulous posts in about 20 minutes…and they are fabulous…you are working your gifts…and talents so you are happy and regret free because you are there, as you parent and as you work….I admire your skill and that you can just flow in your living.

    When you worry you are out of the flow…my daughter, IT Girl is working on her master’s degree about how the computer can assist humans in finding their Element…and how to use that to assist in giving an individual education for each child. Very exciting stuff…

    My Father was not as humorous as Dr. Robinson, but I feel in touch with his spirit and wisdom when I read his book and watch the videos..

  7. Jannie Funster Says:

    Dearest Patricia, in answer to your very enquiring mind…

    Do you think you know your Element? Yes! I think my element is making Blue Bunny look cute and sharing songs.

    How did you get there, just by accident, via a mentor or were you driven there early in life? Good question! I think some innate force bubbled up in me to be like this and I mostly I bootstrapped it as an adult — with the help of all you lovely peeps.

    Did someone offer you guidance that helped you take off? I do remeber the Reverned Drillen’s wife, Mrs Drillen had me sing a couple solos during practice in the Laura D. Choir when I was 10. That made me feel special. Some songs about the loving shepherd and his wayward sheeps. Lovely tune.

    And How do you spark your creativity? I do my dishes or sweep floors — that always being a new song flowing.

    .-= Jannie Funster´s last blog ..Angel Of Delight In The Garden =-.

  8. Patricia Says:

    Yes! I think you know when you are in your element and that you have a huge spark of creativity….Just like Paul McCartney??

    He is a big player in this book….it was so fun to read and so fun to read your comment.

    Thank you so much Jannie….BB is a design masterpiece and all those blog buttons Whoo Hoo

  9. Tony Single Says:

    Great read, Patricia, and I especially related to this:

    This book was a nice stepping stone pace from one persons discovery to the next and it is quite a serious look at the way schools are zapping out the creativity of the students.

    At my school, if you had any kind of artistic creativity that couldn’t be shoehorned into a sport context, then you were out of luck in terms of opportunities to use said creativity. It was a stifling environment for someone like me.

    Did I already tell you how much I appreciated this read? 😉

  10. Patricia Says:

    I thought you would relate to this. Even my computer savvy kiddo could not find a niche for her creativity so she is doing it in Grad. School – making jewelry and painting…I think it as gotten even worse.

    I had one child who was a great athlete, she really fit in as a winner in tennis, but then having a cleft lip and palate truly overshadowed that!

    I thought this was great read and encouraging.

  11. suzen Says:

    Hi Patricia! I sure know my element now – nutrition/natural health/preventative medicine. I’ve dabbled in this for DECADES so it’s always been a part of my life. Can’t imagine why I didn’t go to school for this sooner – but it’s never too late, right? My creative sparks come from everywhere – I just blame my Monkey Mind – it is forever coming up with ideas!

    I taught Creative Thinking/Writing to kids grades 4-8 for years. The interesting part? I gave a seminar to the teachers in our district with the same curriculum and the teachers were pathetic! So intimated, so UNcreative – yikes – all I could think of was what a pity they are teaching kids uncreatively. I don’t think much of our current educational systems. If I were in charge I’d scrap the whole of it and start over with a lot more attention to natural inclinations/talents of the kids.


  12. Patricia Says:

    Yes! I can tell you are in your element and it is never too late to learn…bravo Here! Here!

    My father came to this state as State Director of Special Education and was fired 16 years later because he wrote a law saying every child deserves and individual education – and the folks here did not like it….
    He was all set to be Secretary of Education under President Kennedy, when Kennedy was shot….he did so many creative things for education and our State was in the top 10 when he was fired and now is 47th….
    …and yet look at all the creative folks coming out of this state…like Bill Gates and Paul Allen…and music and films…

    And my kiddos were kind of shy and quiet….homeschooling from middle school on really opened up doors and windows for them to find their element…

    Thanks for you good comments…they got my thinking revved up!

  13. Mandy Allen Says:

    Hi Patricia, really great post. I am a Youth Worker and agree with the point about schools zapping the creativity out of young people, although it doesn’t always happen, as you so rightly point out. It just takes a special teacher to unleash that passion in their students. I have often found that some life events become a catalyst for change, and that change often brings about increased creativity (the subject of the post after the next one I am writing – I was just working on it yesterday!).

    Enjoy the journey.


  14. Patricia Says:

    Hello Mandy,
    I too think we ask too much of schools these days and not enough of some parents.
    I remember studying that we value program between the ages of 10 and 13 as we begin to understand time and history relationships in our development. Most of us operate out of the value programing time slot unless some significant ( often painful) life event causes us to re-think and review those values and our actions. When I keep this idea in mind, I can often figure out the best ways to assist a person in making life changes. I am finding it very hard when someone has been called a “dumby” or thinks they are “stupid” – then they do not know how to change their thinking and they are just expecting more and more pain.

    Thank you for you good comments.

  15. Hilary Says:

    Hi Patricia .. thanks for that .. oddly enough I listened to a couple of TED talks yesterday at Mum’s bedside .. I find I need to concentrate though & the noise of the corridor and Mum’s waking and sleeping make it a little tricky – but it is definitely something I can do when I’m with her – especially as she can’t hear, and if she’s sleepy.

    I’ll get Ken Robinson’s talk into the ipod and give it a listen .. the book, which obviously elaborates more on his theme, sounds fascinating reading.

    Your comments too .. I guess I’m a very late starter .. as I’m still working things out – but I’m sure the creativity is there in my writing and eclectic thoughts – and will be channelled .. my next process for my blog and other thoughts.

    We do need to support everyone .. and allow them to flourish in their chosen thoughts .. and give them that creative thinking start in life.

    A post I’ve wanted to do for a while is on Polymaths .. as it’s something that I think we should all think about – how much those guys from long ago achieved in all kinds of fields ..

    Thanks – great post and prompting us to think creatively .. and encourage others too along the way .. have a good day and weekend .. and hope the healing is continuing for you both .. Hilary
    .-= Hilary´s last blog ..Under Sea Sussex – Tompot Blenny- Piddock- Devonshire Cup Corals and Jewel Anemones =-.

  16. Davina Says:

    Hi Patricia.
    What’s neat about this post is that while reading it I noticed a calmness and a quietness. I scrolled back up to read the title again and here it’s about passion. Guess finding your passion doesn’t have to be big and bold. Isn’t that neat? Really good job here; enjoyed this very much.

    I’m in my element… or in the zone, as you say :-) when I’m writing. It was just something that I naturally gravitated towards. However, along the way I’ve met people who’ve reinforced that in me.
    .-= Davina´s last blog ..New Reality Show Coming to a Tree Near You =-.

  17. Farouk Says:

    thanks for the review! i like these type of posts
    .-= Farouk´s last undefined ..Response cached until Fri 20 @ 9:27 GMT (Refreshes in 23.98 Hours) =-.

  18. Mark Says:

    Great review and wonderful video! I live in my element the majority of the time. This has been both purposeful and accidental. Over time I have grown and returned to my center.

  19. Patricia Says:

    I find watching the TED talks just so lifts my spirits and to know that there are so many inspired folks doing the work…and Robinson is funny to boot! Reading the book just so reminded me of my father and how he thought about education – he was not so funny.
    I am sure I am a late bloomer to these notions.

    It is so good to have mentors and that is a strong point Robinson makes. Sometimes it was a simple as a Mom saying in some form “I trust you” and then trusting the child….Yes I am sure you are in the element /zone when you are writing – one can just feel it.

    I believe you are absolutely right that you live in your element and it is your center….you inspire me to keep searching for mine – I think I can create and promote it into being present and centered.

  20. Chris Edgar Says:

    Hi Patricia — it’s funny what you said about taking a Pro-Am approach, because that’s what I still do sometimes when I revert back to my lawyer role for a one-off gig. Stepping back into that role is very easy because I’m very skilled at law — and, at the same time, I’m grateful that I have many outlets for my creative energies other than it in my life.

  21. Patricia Says:

    I found the Pro-Am suggestion very important, the story was about a man who worked as a professional scientist, but was a top of the line cellist also….he just did not support himself or his family with his music…

    When I came out of Grad school I was coached on getting a tent making career and doing ministry as my avocation because there were 6 clergy for every available post….now there are 43 clergy for every post….I chose counseling, and now the state has changed the rules and I would need a doctorate to continue…I do not want to go for more school…there is a “coach” on nearly every street corner now…that route does not seem good…so searching… You are fortunate to have many outlets.

  22. Keith Davis Says:

    Hi Patricia
    I must apologise… I watched the video but only had time to skim your post.
    What a fantastic speaker… no powerpoint just a man and his words.
    Passion and dreams, what an unbeatable combination.
    Thanks for sharing a great video.
    .-= Keith Davis´s last blog ..Two way traffic =-.

  23. Patricia Says:

    Thank you for your nice comment…I am sorry I missed replying but IT Girl had to moderate your comment, while I was helping my husband with his wounds from falling down while jogging….I am just back at it this morning – Thank you for coming by.

    It is a powerful video

  24. Patricia Says:

    The book is even more amazing than the video, and I am very impressed by this great teacher and his words. I have watched all his TED videos and he is always unbeatable. The book made me feel powerful too!
    .-= Patricia´s last blog ..SMILING ON A BEAUTIFUL MORNING =-.