Sunday, February 12, 2012

Find Your Passion: The Element

The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything by Ken Robinson
Viking, 2009

With Valentine's Day coming up in a few day's time, I confess that my original plan for this week's post was to give a review of a novel containing some sort of love story in it that even single gals like me wouldn't mind so much. But then I ended up finishing a book a few days ago and it says even more about love than I could have expected it to. It's nonfiction, it's written by an expert in the fields of education and creativity, and it may sound crazy, but trust me when I say that The Element is absolutely a love story that I believe everyone should read.

In today's economy, we are constantly telling ourselves as well as our children and younger generations that when thinking of what to do with their futures, practicality is probably the best way to go. We consider the financial numbers, oftentimes convincing ourselves that it's better to play it safe and go with the path of stability. But Robinson turns that idea on its head - what is it doing to individuals, to our society, when we essentially push creativity and these other forces of passion aside that we can see time and again if we look to the great names and ages of history, if we are building a world where people's careers are merely jobs and not something they actually enjoy.

His solution isn't easy and it won't just happen over night, but I believe that he's thinking in the right direction: we must each find and embrace our Element, that thing he describes as "the meeting point between natural aptitude and personal passion."

Though I wouldn't go as far as to call this book narrative nonfiction, it is certainly filled with stories of real people to help illustrate his points. Some you may have heard of (like Paul McCartney) and others, not so much but that doesn't make their incredible contributions to the world any less extraordinary. While he does speak a lot about education and what educational reforms in recent (and not so recent) years have done to how we value creativity, do not feel like this book has nothing to offer you if you aren't a teacher or don't work in a school of some sort. This book has something for everyone. Are you passionate about math or global warming or cartoons? Then chase it. Do you have a good business sense but don't want to give up your love of music or dancing? There's a way to embrace all these parts of yourself and they can help you become the best version of yourself.

I first heard of Sir Ken Robinson when I was in undergrad working towards my teaching certificate, and after watching a video of the TED speech he gave in 2005 (embedded below), his thoughts blew my classmates and me away. Links to this soon popped up on our Twitter feeds and Facebook accounts, and people who have nothing to do with schools agreed whole heartedly with his concepts as well. So if there's something in your life that you LOVE but may be afraid to go after or try, I say give a listen here or read what Robinson has to say. Embrace your Element when you're lucky enough to discover it, and may it open up whole new worlds for you to explore.

Comments welcome and as always, happy reading.

Ken Robinson's Website
Ken Robinson on Twitter

1 comment:

  1. How crazy is that? I was just watching this video the other day. I found it on youtube after watching a Alain de Botton vid (an academic philosopher that I geek out for). Anywhoo, I really need to get this book!

    Ken Robinson is so right on the money when it comes to creativity. I was blown away when I saw this video and his point of view. I truly get annoyed with the practicality argument that people tend to throw at young people when it comes to finding out what they want to do in life. In my opinion, if you lack personal passion for what you do, it's a recipe for disaster!