What is your Element?

Sir Ken Robinson – Finding your Element (extracts)

Finding your Element is essential to your well-being and ultimate success, and, by implication, to the health of our organizations and the effectiveness of our educational systems.

I believe strongly that if we can each find our Element, we all have the potential for much higher achievement and fulfillment. I don’t mean to say that there’s a dancer, a cartoonist, or a Nobel-winning economist in each of us. I mean that we all have distinctive talents and passions that can inspire us to achieve far more than we may imagine.

Understanding this changes everything. It also offers us our best and perhaps our only promise for genuine and sustainable success in a very uncertain future.

Being in our Element depends on finding our own distinctive talents and passions. Why haven’t most people found this? One of the most important reasons is that most people have a very limited conception of their own natural capacities. This is true in several ways.

The first limitation is in our understanding of the range of our capacities. We are all born with extraordinary powers of imagination, intelligence, feeling, intuition, spirituality, and of physical and sensory awareness. For the most part, we use only a fraction of these powers, and some not at all. Many people have not found their Element because they don’t understand their own powers.

The second limitation is in our understanding of how all of these capacities relate to each other holistically. For the most part, we think that our minds, our bodies, and our feelings and relationships with others operate independent of each other, like separate systems. Many people have not found their Element because they don’t understand their true organic nature.

The third limitation is in our understanding of how much potential we have for growth and change. For the most part, people seem to think that life is linear, that our capacities decline as we grow older, and that opportunities we have missed are gone forever. Many people have not found their Element because they don’t understand their constant potential for renewal.

This limited view of our own capacities can be compounded by our peer groups, by our culture, and by our own expectations of ourselves. A major factor for everyone, though, is education.

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