“You live as we all do in two worlds. There is the world that came into being when you did, and that exists only because you exist… There is also the world that exists whether or not you exist… This outer world was there long before you were born, and it will continue long after you have left it. You only know the outer world through your inner world. To find your Element, you have to explore both of these worlds.” –Ken Robinson
When a friend mentioned she was reading The Element, I’d never heard of it. In the process of checking it out, I discovered there are actually two books: The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything (2009) and Finding Your Element: How to Discover Your Talents and Passions and Transform Your Life (2013), both written by Ken Robinson.
Following the publication of his 2009 inspirational bestseller, The Element, Robinson experienced an especially enthusiastic response from readers—some wrote to share their own Element stories, others to ask for more help and direction to find their Element. With so many readers wanting more, Robinson wrote the companion guidebook, Finding Your Element.
The intended purpose of this follow-up book is to offer practical support to readers on their personal quest to find their Element. According to Robinson “being in your Element is more than doing things you are good at… To be in your Element you have to love it, too.” Each of the book’s ten chapters “sets out ideas and principles to clarify what being in your Element really means and how this may manifest in your own life.” There are lots of interesting stories which demonstrate the presence of the Element in people’s lives, including the author’s. There are fifteen exercises spread throughout the book, as well as questions at the end of every chapter—all intended to help you reflect more deeply on your quest to discover yourself. I enjoyed that eight of the book’s ten chapter titles are in the form of a question: What are you good at? How do you know? What do you love? What makes you happy? What’s your attitude? Where are you now? Where’s your tribe? and What’s next?
I love that the very heart of Robinson’s work is based on the following core principles: “First, your life is unique. You can learn from the experiences of other people, but you cannot and should not try to duplicate them. Second, you create your own life and you can re-create it. In doing that, your greatest resources are your own imagination and sense of possibility. Third, your life is organic, not linear. You can’t plan the whole of your life’s journey and you don’t need to. What you do need to plan are the next steps.”
I encourage you to check out Robinson’s 2006 TED talk on creativity and education. He is a passionate and humorous speaker and it’s no surprise that his talk How Schools Kill Creativity remains at the top of the list of the most-watched TED talks.
Brené Brown is the author of The Gifts of Imperfection and Daring Greatly. She is also known for her 2010 TED talk The power of vulnerability, followed in 2012 by Listening to shame.
Brown’s new book will be out before the end of August.
Elizabeth Gilbert is the author of the best-selling memoir Eat Pray Love which was made into a movie starring Julia Roberts in 2010.
Watch for Gilbert’s new book in late September.