Books

The Element | Ken Robinson


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Published in: 2009

Amazon Goodreads

Find early in life the job that feels like play to you. That can turn potential underachievers into becoming happy pursuers. This book addresses a few persons who have discovered their element – the place where things you love to do and the things you are good at meet. The element is another way of defining your potential.

“I’m convinced that taking the definition of intelligence for granted is one of the main reasons why so many people underestimate their true intellectual abilities and fail to find their Element. This commonsense view goes something like this: we are all born with a fixed amount of intelligence”

NATURAL STRENGHTS. Most people have a limited idea of their own natural capacity. Finding your element is essential for your well-being and success, and indirectly for the health of your organizations and the efficiency of our education systems. Robinson strongly believes that if we can all find our Element, we have the potential for much higher performance and fulfillment.

LET EVERYONE BLOOM IN THEIR OWN WAY. A “one-size-fits-all” in education marginalizes all those who do not naturally learn in this way. Education should be the system that develops our natural abilities and enables us to take the step into the world. Instead, it often stifles the individual talents and abilities of many students and kills their motivation to learn.

“William James: The greatest discovery of my generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitude of mind…if you change your mind, you can change your life”

MAKE THE INTEREST A PROFESSION. The only way to prepare for the future is to do the best we can, assuming it will make us as flexible and productive as possible. Go for things that you cannot imagine being without. Many people neglect their passion for doing things they do not care about, for financial security.

THREE TYPES OF INTELLIGENCE. Robinson argues that there are three types of intelligence: analytical intelligence (the ability to solve problems with academic skills and conventional IQ tests), creative intelligence (the ability to handle difficult situations and come up with original solutions) and practical intelligence (the ability to handle problems and challenges in daily life).

CREATIVITY IS THE HIGHEST. The highest form of intelligence is creative thinking. To find your element, it is important to understand the true nature of creativity and to have a clear understanding of how it relates to intelligence. According to Robinson, most people have a limited view of intelligence, by thinking in terms of academic understanding. This makes many people who are smart in different ways start to think that they are not smart at all.

FIND THE RIGHT FREQUENCY. The first critical step is to understand the intimate relationship between creativity and intelligence. People who work creatively usually love the medium they work with. Musicians love the sound they create, writers love words, dancers love movement, mathematicians love numbers, entrepreneurs love doing business and teachers love pedagogy. Therefore, they do not consider it a job – they do what they do because they are then in their element.

”This is why Feynman talks about working on the equations of motion “just for the fun of it”. It’s why he talks about “playing” with the ideas in “a relaxed fashion”.

DO WHAT YOU LOVE. When we do something within our element, we feel like our most authentic selves. We think that time goes differently and that we are more alive. Finding and developing our creative strengths is an important part of becoming who we really are. People who are in their element get a deep joy and delight of what they do. People who love what they do often describe themselves as lucky. People who think they are not succeeding in their lives often say that they have been unlucky. Being in your element often means that you are connected to other people who share the same passion and have a common sense of commitment. In practice, this means that you actively seek opportunities to explore your suitability in different areas.

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