113 of 117 people found the following review helpful
on May 22, 2013
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Ken Robinson wrote this book as a follow-up to his other book The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything by Ken Robinson, Lou Aronica (Reprint Edition) [Paperback(2009)]. He takes a 360 view of your life and walks you through it all. You do a series of exercises where you ask yourself deep questions. You find your element when you find the intersection between your passions and aptitudes.
He has three major principles:
Principle #1: Your Life is Unique.
We're all different.
We're all a mix of nature and nurture.
Principle #2: You create your own life.
Carl Jung: "I am not what has happened to me, I am what I choose to become."
Principle #3: Life is Organic
We all change. We don't have a linear path. He incorporates a lot of examples of successful people who had a completely nonlinear path to success.
Vivek Wadhwa, famous for his work on immigrants working in the technology field in the United States, realized that "there is no link between what you study in college and how successful or otherwise you are later in your life."
Ken Robinson talks about a lot of the existing literature and methods for finding out what your passion is and he's fairly critical of them. He talks about what's called the Forer Effect, also known as the Barnum Effect. You mold your personality to conform with what people tell you your personality incorporates. Robinson is in favor of using personality types to describe yourself, but he says not to let the personality definitions (MBTI for example) limit you.
He also takes a lot of time to talk about happiness and positive psychology. He differentiates between your physical and spiritual well-being. When I was in the Andes and taking an anthropology class, I learned that the indigenous culture believes in two types of life force. One is the breath of life and the other I would call the force of spirit, just like Scott Russell Sanders' The Force of Spirit. He talks about Gretchen Rubin The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun.
His definition of happiness comes from Sonja Lyubomirsky: Happiness is the experience of joy, contentment, and well-being combined with a sense that life is good and worthwhile. I felt like that was a really comprehensive yet concise summary and I think that the happiness section was the best part of this book.
Robinson goes on to talk about the 5 different kinds of well-being: career, social, financial, physical, and community. He asks you what sorts of hurdles or responsibilities you have and what sorts of risks that you can take. He asks you who you want to be, but in a much more specific way.
He also talks about Bonnie Ware The Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing, because a lot of his action steps at the end of the book have to do with mitigating risks. I found it interesting that a lot of the suggestions that he had were in line with things that Barry Schwartz said at the end of The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less.
I've seen Robinson's TED talk and expected more of the book to be about the education system and creativity. While he does talk about them, he encourages the reader to engage in a lot of introspection through a variety of exercises; each chapter ends with a few questions about you and your life. My favorite exercises had to do with vision boards. I used Pinterest to create them and I really loved having a concrete, pictorial representation of more abstract concepts, such as the activities that I do in daily life.
Robinson also says that it's all an iterative process and we grow organically (Principle #3), so nobody should expect his or her desires at one point to be the same as at another point in his or her life. I know that it's valuable for me to read this as a recent college graduate and that I'll read it again, further down the line.
112 of 119 people found the following review helpful
According to Ken Robinson, what he characterizes as "The Element" is not a physical location but the challenge is to locate it, nonetheless. "It's about doing something that feels so completely natural to you, that resonates so strongly with you, that you feel as if this is who you really are." Some people locate it in childhood, others decades later, and still others never. "Finding your Element is a quest to find yourself...it is a two-way journey: an inward journey to explore what lies within you and an outward journey to explore opportunities in the world around you." Robinson wrote The Element (2009) with Lou Aronica who also assisted with the writing of Finding Your Element four years later. Ever since the first book was published, Robinson explains, "people have asked me how they can find their own Element, or help other people to find theirs."
In response, this sequel has five main thematic threads that weave throughout the book, each of which is intended to help the reader reflect and focus on finding their own Element and, if they wish to, help others to do so. Robinson provides ideas and principles as well as stories and examples, stories, and other resources such as 15 exercises to complete (more about them in a moment) and clusters of questions to consider at the end of each chapter before moving on to the next. In fact, each chapter title is a question. "Although there are ten chapters in the book, Finding Your Element is not a ten-step program." Just as Oscar Wilde once suggested, "Be yourself. Everyone else is taken," Robinson suggests that only the reader can answer the questions posed. "In the end, only you will know if you've found your Element or if you are still looking for it. Whichever it proves to be, you should never doubt this is a quest worth taking." True to form, Robinson asks most of the right questions but it remains for each reader to answer them, perhaps using some of the tools that Robinson provides. I have found mind mapping to be an especially helpful technique during both an inward journey of personal discovery and an outward journey of the world in which I live. As with answering questions, however, each reader must select which tools to use as well as when and how.
These are among the dozens of passages that caught my eye, also listed to indicate the scope of Robinson's coverage.
o A Personal Quest (Pages xxii-xxiv)
o Three Elemental Principles (19-27)
o True North (27-30)
o Hidden Depths (39-44)
o Finding Your Aptitudes (44-48)
o What's Your Style? (65-71)
o Two Sorts of Energy (84-87)
o The Unhappy Truth (113-115)
o Having a Purpose What Is Happiness? (117-120)
o The Meaning of Happiness (120-126)
o Seeing Through the Barriers (143-146)
o Who Are You? (147-148)
o A Question of 160-165)
o Figuring Out Where You Are (173-174)
o The Culture of Tribes (191-192)
o Moving Forward by Going Back (215-222)
As I began to re-read this book prior to composing this brief commentary, I realized that amidst all the information, insights, and counsel that Robinson provides in abundances, there were certain key points that I had missed. I strongly recommend re-reading this book, highlighting especially relevant material along the way and then reviewing that material from time to time. I also suggest keeping a notebook near at hand in which to record personal thoughts, feelings, experiences, concerns, and other professional as well as personal issues.
As quoted earlier, Robinson views "finding your Element is a quest to find yourself...it is a two-way journey: an inward journey to explore what lies within you and an outward journey to explore opportunities in the world around you." This is a never-ending process because each of us and our circumstances change and adjustments must be made to accommodate them.
This is what Ken Robinson has in mind, when concluding: "Like the rest of nature, human talents and passions are tremendously diverse and they take many forms. As individuals, we're all motivated by different dreams and we thrive -- and we wilt too -- in very different circumstances. Recognizing your own dreams and the conditions you need to fulfill them are essential to becoming who you can be. Finding your own Element won't guarantee that you'll spend the rest of your life in a constant, unbroken state of pleasure and delight. It will give you a deeper sense of who you really are and of the life you could and maybe should live."
62 of 67 people found the following review helpful
on May 24, 2013
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
I loved the book. I'm retiring, albeit reluctantly, from the work that I have loved doing for 40 years. This book comes at the right time for me since I have been struggling with what I can do with my time for this stage of my life other than be a greeter at Wal-Mart. I took Sir Ken's advice and began to take stock of my aptitudes and interests. At various times in my life, I have dabbled in cooking and art with some degree of success and I plan to pursue these interests now and after retirement. Having a passion in life, according to Sir Ken, feeds your spirit and ultimately this is what makes living an adventure. I love his sense of humor (for a first hand experience of a genuinely funny and entertaining talk, see Ken Robinson on the TED website ), his wonderful and realistic way of viewing the world, and sage advice on how to live a fulfilling life regardless of your circumstances. the real life examples were inspiring and thought provoking. This is one book that I will pass along to friends and family looking how to experience life to the fullest.
87 of 107 people found the following review helpful
on June 4, 2013
I borrowed this book from my local library and am glad that I did not purchase it. There's nothing new here: write or mindmap your interests, skills/aptitudes, passions. Find the intersection of these. Associate with your tribe-those people with similar interests. Take action. This has been written over and over in similar books.
The challenge is that this process is messy, long and not necessarily successful. It's trial and error. Hopefully you'll stumble on your element. But this book did nothing to facilitate this.
Most of the examples involve people finding their passion in the arts. What about all the other professions-medical, scientific, engineering, teaching, service, etc? Lots of passionate people work in these fields and contribute much to society.
The chapter on testing is thin but that is just as well. After all, who do you know who's found their passion through testing?
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on May 27, 2013
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
All 3 of Robinson's books are remarkable resources. He has a great TED talk available on YouTube that can give you some introduction to his theories. Central to his work is his concept of "element". Robinson would way a person is in his/her element when s/he finds that thing that s/he love to do and does that thing well. Schools often don't give children much of a chance to discover their individual elements. Higher education is often worse. Career patterns and cultures can make it hard as well.
Robinson's work not only introduces his concepts very understandably and simply, it also reports from the lives of many individuals and institutions that have gotten it right. Inspiring and instructive stories of individuals, cultures and institutions that have found their elements even when very unusual and even up against unfavorable odds.
Robinson writes in a way that is easy to read. His stories are captivating. His impact on your life and how you guide others in your work place and your families will be profound.
19 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on May 22, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
Did you attend a traditional school ? Was your creativity doused by math, english and following the program ? Do you even know what your passion is, or where your talents lie ? I really didn't have any idea when I picked this book up. I can do a little of everything and don't really know where my true talents really are. Jack of all trades master at none, that is what I was taught a little of everything. Was it the public school systems fault that I lack focus ? Who knows, but he gives a very interesting argument.
In this book he helps you focus on "the element' where the things you are good and what you love to do come into clear view. There are some steps to follow to help you form your talents into focus. I wish there had been more of these. He gets you started in the direction you need to go it's up to you to keep the momentum.
Most of the book deals with the educational system. The standardized test systems, the lack of arts programs, and one size fits all thinking of education. I would love to see every teacher, parent any one in education read this and expand their views. I learned that my talents, my element is one of the areas I put off the most. I'll be working on that in the future.
18 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on May 27, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
I read this as a parent and as a woman approaching 50.
Well picked case stories, great questions to reflect upon in each chapter and a book well- written and with great humor makes this book a must read for everybody, who feels misplaced in their own life right now.
And for parents with children still at home and going to school, reading this will inspire to look at possibilities for children in a whole new perspective.
This is really a fantastic book.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on April 15, 2014
Are you living the life you should be living?
Based on the three elemental principles of (1) Your life is unique; (2) You create your own life; and (3) Life is organic, _Finding Your Element_ presents a great guide for creating a personally meaningful life. Whether you’re stuck where you’re at—or have a sense that you deserve a richer life—this book offers insight and inspiration:
“Finding your Element is a personal quest...The quest for your Element is really a two-way journey. It is an inward journey to explore what lies within you; it is an outward journey to explore opportunities in the world around you. The aim of the book is to help you find your way. Whether you fulfill your potential depends on your commitment and fortitude and on how highly you value the possible prize. If you are prepared to do what it takes, I trust you’ll find a lot here to help and inspire you.” (pp. xxii-xxiii)
The book is full of thought-provoking information, suggestions, and case histories, but what might be most valuable are the self-exploration questions the author proposes at the end of each chapter. Here’s a sampling:
*What are you good at?
--What sorts of activities come especially easily to you?
--What do you feel your natural talents are?
--How did you first become aware of them? (pp. 54-55)
*How do you know?
--Has anyone ever suggested that you might be good at something that you hadn’t considered?
--Have you ever avoided doing something because you thought you wouldn’t be good at it?
--Is there anything you feel you might be good at if you had the chance to work at it properly? (p. 77)
*What do you love?
--What sorts of activities lift your spirits and feed your energy?
--What activities make time disappear for you?
--When do you feel that you are being most true to your own spirit? (pp. 109-110)
*What makes you happy?
--When do you feel at your happiest?
--Do you feel that what you spend most of your time doing has a real purpose, for you or for others?
--What would you think of as success in your life? (p. 139)
*What’s your attitude?
--What can you do to raise your belief in yourself?
--How is your temperament affecting your pursuits?
--What can you do to change the attitudes of those around you? (pp. 166)
*Where are you now?
--How easily can you take a risk?
--What are the biggest hurdles?
--What would it take to get over them? (p. 186)
*Where’s your tribe?
--What sorts of people do you associate with your Element?
--Do they interest and attract you or not? Do you know why?
--If you do, what do you feel about the professional culture that goes with it? (p. 212)
--What experiences would you like to have that you haven’t had yet?
--If you couldn’t fail, what would you most like to achieve?
--What’s stopping you? (p. 236)
After providing a road map to finding your Element, the author concludes with:
“Like the rest of nature, human talents and passions are tremendously diverse and they take many forms. As individuals, we’re all motivated by different dreams and we thrive—and we wilt too—in very different circumstances. Recognizing your own dreams and the conditions you need to fulfill them are essential to becoming who you can be. Finding your own Element won’t guarantee that you’ll spend the rest of your life in a constant unbroken state of pleasure and delight. It will give you a deeper sense of who you really are and of the life you could and maybe should live.” (pp. 242-243)
Here’s to living like you’re meant to be living.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on May 28, 2013
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
I will recomend reading The Element together with this book, as it is a complement. In this book Sir Ken outlines many profound concepts that I needed to research in several book for five years. So this book will save you time, money and effort. He adresses powerful concepts in his usual funny way. You will need pen and paper to do the excersices which will help you get a better understanding of yourself. And yes, you will need to read the book more than once.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on June 14, 2013
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
I stumbled on to the books of Ken Robinson in the way that thousands of others probably have: through his wildly popular TED Talks. His easy-going speaking style and gentle sense of humor serve the topic of self-discovery particularly well. In Finding Your Element, you'll find a writing style that closely matches what you may have seen while watching those videos. Robinson has a genuine interest in sharing the wisdom of self-knowledge that shines through.
Happily, this is not some airy-fairy self-help book that promises you that anything can be yours through the power of positive thinking or "communicating with the spirit of the universe" or similar new age fluff. Rather, this is a book about stimulating you to think about some very serious questions. What are you doing with your life? How do you feel about it? Would you rather be doing something else? What would that something else be? And, importantly, if you did do that thing, what would the consequences be?
Most people believe that everyone has something that they're good at and many people dream of pursuing that thing as a way of making a living (or just living, period). Robinson provides a combined survey of world wisdom on this topic along with a series of helpful exercises that serve as mental "looseners" to get you in touch with what your personal thing is. Even if you already think you know what that thing is, these exercises are worth at least considering even if you decide not to follow them to the letter.
So, if you're thinking hard about choices that you've made and regrets you might have about them, don't worry. You're in good company. There are lots of folks out there who are in the same boat with you. Ken Robinson's out to convince you that it's never too late. There's always time to make a big course correction...if you're willing to accept the consequences. Even if you're thinking about a small adjustment in your life that gets you closer to your passions in life, give this book a try. Think of it as an investment in your own well being.