Published on February 22, 2014
All around the world, every hour of every single day, people are ﬁnding their “Element” – the place where what they love to do, and what they are good at, come together. “Ahhhh.... I love the smell of pleather in the morning.”
of rag e Jo fis e’s t am I When we see these people, the majority of us have a twinge of envy and wonder “why can’t life be that easy for ME? “. While we are busy wondering this, the people who are in their Element are busy doing the thing that they love, and getting better and better in every waking moment.
As Sir Ken Robinson would tell us, “We can all ﬁnd that magical place where time seems to ﬂy by because we love what we do with every ﬁber of our being – if we only knew where to look...” This is a book about where to look for your Element, and how to ﬁght against the forces that don’t want you to ﬁnd it.
Why finding the Element is so hard... We are all blessed with talents and abilities that if tapped, would allow us to do so much more than we ever thought possible. The ﬁrst step to being in the Element is to ﬁnd our own distinctive talents. Although there are many factors conspiring against us from ﬁnding them, you only need to look in the mirror to ﬁnd the biggest...... you rs elf
The ﬁrst limitation we place on ourselves is that we don’t understand the full range of our capacities. As Sir Robinson says, “we are all born with extraordinary powers of imagination, intelligence, feeling, intuition, spirituality and of physical and sensory awareness.” Most of us haven’t found our Element because we don’t understand our own powers. After all, it’s hard to tap into powers that we don’t even know are there.
The second limitation is in understanding how these talents and capacities work together holistically. Our minds, bodies and our relationships with others are not independent operating systems that we can treat separately, because one has an impact on the other, which has an impact on the other, and so on. Understanding our holistic nature brings us one step closer to being in our Element.
Lastly, we don’t truly understand the human capacity for growth and change, now matter how many candles are on your birthday cake. Most people lament the fact that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, and blame missed opportunities on things outside of their own control. How many times have you heard somebody in your life mutter that “Oh, I’m too old for that”. While there are some instances where this might be true, there are inﬁnitely more where growth and opportunity await. Now that we know what’s standing in our way, let’s focus on the things that are necessary for us to ﬁnd our Element.
I Get It Unfortuntately, our society is set up to look for and reward only one type of intelligence – as if the SATs or other standardized tests could be a good measure for our aptitudes in becoming successful in the world. But, as Robinson would tell you, the question we should be asking is not “how smart are you”, but rather, “how are you smart”. Let me explain... (Aptitude)
The book starts oﬀ with the story of a young girl Iwho can’t seem to sit still in class and was a Get It constant disruption. Even worse, she handed in (Aptitude) her assignments late and had the worst handwriting on this side of the Atlantic. Her teachers and her parents were concerned – enough so that they decided that it would be best if Gillian be put in a school with children of special needs. They took little Gillian oﬀ to the psychiatrist for an assessment to conﬁrm their hunch. What happened there was remarkable. At some point during the visit, the doctor turned on some music and then took Gillian’s mother out of the room. They watched from outside in amazement as Gillian got up and moved to the music gracefully, seemingly lost in the moment. The doctor turned to Gillian’s mother and said “You know, Mrs. Lynne. Gillian isn’t sick. She’s a dancer. Take her to dance school.” This story would be remarkable enough if it ended there. But as it turns out, Gillian Lynne went on to become one of the most celebrated dancers and choreographers of all time – helping create classics such as Phantom of the Opera and Cats with Andrew Lloyd Webber.
linguistic & musical mathematical & spatial kinesthetic & interpersonal intra-personal There are many types of intelligence beyond how well we can sit still in class and how well we do on math tests. In fact, Harvard psychologist Howard Gardner has identiﬁed many intelligences that we all possess: These intelligences are pretty much independent of one another, and none more important than the other.
Take into your own life a look What aptitudes do you seem to kid in class who could never seem of a sign that you were a bad student natural interpersonal intelligence? Maybe have a natural ability for? Perhaps you were the to shut your mouth – maybe that was less and more of a sign that you had a you were the kid who wanted nothing else in the world but to lock yourself in a room and play the guitar – maybe that was less of a sign that you were socially awkward and more of a sign that you had a strong musical intelligence? The important thing here is to realize that no matter what constraints the school system or society seems to place on you, there is more than one way to be intelligent, and if you pay attention, you can ﬁnd where your intelligence is strongest. That’s where you’ll most likely be “in” your Element.
passion (I Love It) That you should love what you do for a living isn’t a new concept. But platitudes alone aren’t very helpful, so let’s explore how you can ﬁgure out what this means for you. Most people make the mistake of deciding what they think they will love and then chasing that, rather than understanding what they actually love. It’s hard to understate the impact that this has on your life. Human beings are notoriously bad at guessing what will make them happy, and deciding what you want to dedicate your life to is no exception. Perhaps you may have been inﬂuenced by what your peers and family have done for a living, and you see them living a lifestyle that you think you want, and ﬁnally you decide that you should be a lawyer too. What you don’t take into account is that for most people, the day-to-day of being a lawyer will suck the life out of you.
Instead of looking for what you think will make you happy, take a look at what you are doing in your spare time. When were in class and you were daydreaming, what were you daydreaming about? When you should be doing your homework or completing those TPS reports, what are you doing instead? For P a u l McCartney, that thing was studying and playing rock music when he should have been doing his algebra homework. M u s i c c o n s u m e d h i s e ve r y thought, and he let it extend to his actions.
However, ﬁnding the thing that you love to do might not even be enough to ﬁgure out what will put you “in” your Element. The other thing you need to be on the lookout for is what Robinson (and every single sportscaster on the planet) would DROP c a l l “ T h e Z o n e ”. A s Rob i n s o n s ay s , th e Zone is deep within the heart of the Element. INTO When we are in the Zone we get lost in the moment of whatever it is that we are doing. Time YOUR seems to stand still, although we can go for hours and have it feel like minutes. Without ZONE this euphoria to keep us going through all of the other “stuﬀ” that comes along with doing what we love (studying, prepping, etc), we will never last. Most importantly, when you are in the zone you are doing whatever you are doing for it’s own sake.
I WANT IT (attitude) So you’ve found what you are good at, and you know what you love to do and what puts you in the Zone. However, we are only half of the way there. It seems trite to say this, but you have to really want this to be a permanent part of your life in order to succeed. For certain, you shouldn’t expect the entire world to line up and try to help you get to where you want to go. In fact, you’ll face three sources of resistance along the way: CULTURAL PERSONAL Robinson calls these the: SOCIAL three circles of constraints
First, get ready to face all sorts of resistance from the last person you’d expect to receive it from: yourself. This shouldn’t be news to you. In fact, as you are working your way through this summary, you’ve probably been listening to a voice in your head telling you that “you shouldn’t be so foolish”, or “you’re not good enough to do that”, or some other put down that would seem devastating to you if it were coming from the lips of Wow, now that’s a pretty cool idea. Even for me. Wait, what? ourselves, without even noticing. You’ll have this Zero hits on Google? Can’t battle on a daily basis, and each and every one be. Must be something wrong with it. Legal? Ethical? Gotta be a reason. Who am of those days you are going to have to feel the I kidding. I can’t invent anything new. I’m over the hill, didn’t go to school for this, fear and do it anyways. not paid enough. Really Gonzo, that’s the worst idea I’ve heard this month. No, wait, this millennium. Knew I should’ve stayed in bed this morning. somebody you love. It’s incredible how hard we are on “Is this a good idea? Is it even original? Oh god, all the good ideas have already been taken. I knew it. This is a crap idea. I’m doomed.” Surely, if the other guys are pivoting their synergies, it must be right. We should copy them. If I don’t say anything, maybe they won’t notice I’m here. “Is someone frying bacon?” “At least these pants make my ass look hard”
Second you aren’t the only one who doesn’t want to see yourself succeed. Everyone around you is going to have an opinion on your crazy dreams. Many times these people can and will give you good advice. But on many occasions, and in this one in particular, you are best advised to ignore them. One of the most common phrases you are likely to hear is “it’s for your own good”, or “I’m only saying this because I love you”. Take the example of Paulo Coelho, whose parents had him committed to a mental institution on three separate occasions because he wanted to become a writer. You see, his parents believed that he had an excellent future ahead of him as a lawyer and couldn’t have their beloved Paulo wasting his talents on something as trivial as the arts. Luckily for Paulo and for the entire world he persevered even through this. He went on to write The Alchemist, which sold over 40 million copies worldwide and he became the bestselling Portuguese language writer of all time. Understanding these forces, and being willing to break through them, is critical if you want to ﬁnd yourself in your Element. STUPIDEST OF ALL STUPID IDEAS CLUB NEW MEMBERS ALWAYS WELCOME.
Where is It? (Opportunity) Where is the opportunity in this world? This is a question that all people in search of their Element must ask. There are two answers. The ﬁrst answer is everywhere. People who ﬁnd their Element are much more likely to be of the “glass half full” variety. In fact, Sir Ken Robinson himself had what many people would consider to be a crushing blow to their dreams when he was a child. Growing up in Liverpool, football wasn’t a pastime, it was a family passion. His family had aspirations for him to play professionally one day, and his talent seemed to match the dream. One day, however, he came home and was in so much pain that he couldn’t move. It turned out that he had Polio, and he never regained the use of his right leg. Some people might have viewed this as the end of a dream, but Robinson viewed it as the beginning of another. He found his Element in working in the creative and educational ﬁelds and through giving presentations around the world to groups of people who have been tasked with transforming those disciplines. People who ﬁnd their Element are not more or less likely to come up against trials and tribulations in their lives. But they are more likely to ﬁnd the good in these events.
` The second answer is through ﬁnding your tribe. The culture and groups that we ﬁnd ourselves in has a deep impact on what we perceive as acceptable behaviour. The culture and the groups you associate yourself with are for the most part things to be celebrated. However, they can also lead to “groupthink” – where the decision of the group is accepted at face value without any further exploration. For instance, pale and pasty old men in Europe ﬁnd it perfectly acceptable to parade up and down the beach wearing nothing more than a thong, while in North America he would be lucky if he weren’t arrested for indecent exposure. In most high schools around the world, being a male dancer would cast a death sentence on your social life. But ﬁnd yourself attending the Julliard School and that same male dancer might ﬁnd their social life taking a turn for the better, not to mention socially acceptable to work insanely hard at their craft.
Tribe! Finding a tribe is ﬁnding a group of people with a common commitment to the thing they feel born to do. Once you ﬁnd the one thing you feel born to do, ﬁnd the tribe where doing that thing on a daily basis is something that is not only encouraged, but demanded from you. Of course, the demanding will do no good, because you’ll already be doing that thing before they have a chance to demand it anyways. ROK IT MON 24/7/365
If you ﬁnd yourself wondering what it would be like to absolutely love what you do for a living, and to ﬁnd yourself lost in time everyday, this book is for you. This might be the most important book you ever read. For more information, about this book and our other great book summaries, please visit: www.readitfor.me
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