Top critical review
11 people found this helpful
Par for the course
on April 19, 2016
I read an excerpt or an interview about Finding Your Element somewhere and somehow I got hooked into the idea that this book contained some revolutionary wisdom on discovering your true calling in life. For me, this wasn't the case. The book is stuffed with a great many tired platitudes, and its "revolutionary insight" basically boils down to the obvious idea of "do what you love."
I'm not saying this is bad advice, or that the commonsense wisdom, spoken through the silver-tongued mouth of Sir Ken Robinson, won't inspire some to get off their butts and take action. But the majority of the book contains disappointingly obvious cliches backed up by real-life accounts of people who have followed this obvious advice, and, unsurprisingly, had positive results. *It worked for Sally-Jo... It can work for you, too!*
For me, the book never digs deep enough into the gritty, challenging areas of helping people transition to a meaningful career. Rarely if ever, for example, does the text address the fact that we live in a techno-industrial civilization that is specifically designed to prevent most people from fulfilling their individual creative potential, and to enslave us in a monolithic, hierarchical corporate economy. "You always have choices," Sir Ken boasts confidently. Well, in today's world of neoliberal domination, choices are becoming narrower and narrower for the vast majority of the population.
The book feels somewhat out of touch with the struggles of everyday people. It's very genial throughout, and the tone is avuncular, as if a rich old uncle is talking to his young rich nephew about whether or not he should be a horse jockey or continue in the family silver business. It's not easy to find my element when I can barely stay afloat in the economy, and it's a tragedy that Finding Your Element is such a luxury in contemporary society, where there's more than enough wealth for everyone to share, were it more equally distributed.
I'm fighting desperately to find my element, but sometimes I feel it's a losing battle because of the intense pressure the system puts on my back to conform and become a wage slave so I can survive.
Criticisms aside, if you're looking for a basic book to give you a few ideas about how to expand your world, you could do worse. Some bits of wisdom that genuinely resonated:
• Finding your element is about discovering what lies within you and, in doing so, transforming what lies before you.
• Being in your element gives you energy. Not being in it takes it from you.
• Many of the opportunities you have in your life are generated by the energy you create around you.
• The search for your element 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.
• Do all you can to explore new avenues of possibilities in yourself and in the world around you.
• You may be better than you think at what you love. You may underestimate your talent because you set unreasonably high standards for yourself. Having high standards is good, provided you're not immobilized by self-criticism.
• Connecting with people who share your Element can have tremendous benefits for you and them.
• The most common regret: Not having the courage to live a life true to yourself.