The Element by Ken Robinson
One Line Summary
Learn the truth about finding your purpose in life
Would you like to know the exact reason you’re here on Earth?
My guess is yes. Personally, I’m still waiting for Zeus to hand me down a scroll detailing my mission, but for now Aurum Reviews plus a few other projects satisfies me 😉
The Element by Ken Robinson is all about finding that key thing that you highly succeed in. Mozart had music. Usain Bolt had track. What’s yours?
This is obviously not an easy question to figure out. I’ve dedicated making essentially an entire course on this topic in Vision Quest. And this book is required reading for that.
Robinson tackles this question of “what is your element” mostly by examining famous people who were highly successful. He looks at how and why they were able to find that zone how to apply it to your own life.
The basic thesis is this: find your passion and talent. I know, you’ve heard that a million times. I’ve even written about it before on my blog. But this cliché of “find your passion” is no longer a cliché when you can really break it down. And that’s what Robinson does here.
Why it’s Awesome
One area that Robinson really hammers on in this book is formal education. He talks about how standardized testing and the “system” that we all go through growing up can really be harmful to the individual.
I couldn’t agree more. The idea of standardized testing, although necessary for the system to run smoothly, can no way accurately identify every student’s true abilities. People are simply too unique to be boxed this way.
This boxing would be okay, but beliefs are powerful things. When your teacher tells you as a young child that you’re not good enough in X, you just believe them. You’re a sponge.
And so we get what’s call a self-fulfilling prophecy.
A self-fulfilling prophecy just means that because you believe them, it ends up becoming true.
Your teacher said you weren’t good enough in X, you believed them, and so you never bothered to develop your talents in area X. The end result is that you’re not good enough in X.
This kind of madness is happening all over the world, all the time. No one is immune. Yet the scariest part is that there is no conspiracy going on.
No one is trying to hold people down. This is just what happens when everyone does what they think they should be doing. Every business and school is made up of individual people who are trying to make a living the best way they know how.
That being said, we don’t have to keep our current system. Robinson talks at length about how to individualize testing (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iG9CE55wbtY).
I also love the stories Robinson shares in this book. They’re inspiring and really show you just what is possible.
Yes, it’s hard to argue that someone like Richard Branson’s success was just due to him “finding his element”. Lots of entrepreneurs are in their element and have not had close to the success as Branson.
But that being said, it’s one piece of the puzzle. And all we can do is gather individual puzzle pieces. I have many other reviews that hit on success from tons of different angles. But finding your element can’t be ignored.
Finding your element is also an essential part of finding your Vision. I’ll go more into this in Vision Quest, but you really can’t build an ultimate Vision for your life with including this. I honestly believe human beings have a need to create what’s in our soul.
Who Will Love It
-Young college / high school students trying to figure out who they are
-Anyone looking for more meaning and passion out of their work
-Those struggling between career choices
-Those struggling between passion and money
-Those who love studying success
Why Does It Suck
There’s not a whole lot of depth here. Mostly it’s just the rehashed stories of successful people that you’ve already heard if you’ve looked at success. Richard Branson was a drop out, Paul McCartney thought he had no musical talent, etc.
All in all, not much I haven’t heard before.
Who Will Hate It
-Those who are afraid to go for their element
The Wrap Up
The Element is a great introductory text on finding your passion in life. You’ll enjoy it if you enjoy studying success. Otherwise you can probably skip this one.