"Finding your Element is a quest to find yourself…it is a two-way journey: an inward journey to explore what lies within you and an outward journey to explore opportunities in the world around you."
Finding Your Element is a deeply introspective guide to your talents, passions, preferences and goals. Based upon his bestselling book, The Element, Ken Robinson outlines an intensive journey that will help each of us discover our own Element.
Robinson provides a series of guided exercises to evaluate your current life, review what activities and ideas give you energy, and ultimately to identify your unique contribution to the world. While the bulk of this work is personal and intimate, the author outlines key behaviors that will help anyone dig deeper into their inner workings to identify and harness their Element.
The Big Idea
Three Elemental Principals
"Being in your Element is where your natural aptitudes meet your passions."
The process of discovering one’s Element is more like a quest than a 10-step program – highly individualized, introspective, and challenging. Robinson reminds us of the unifying factor for this journey: the simple miracle of our existence. And his three principles set the stage for our quest.
Principal #1: Your life is unique. “There’s no one in the world precisely like you, nor is there anyone else living your life.”
Principal #2: You create your own life. “What sets human beings apart from the rest of nature…is that human beings have immense natural powers of imagination and creativity.”
Principal #3: Life is organic. “[L]ife is a constant process of improvisation between interests and personality on the one hand and circumstances and opportunities on the other.”
Where's Your Tribe
"Connecting with people who share your Element can have tremendous benefits for you and for them…affirmation, guidance, collaboration and inspiration."
The value of finding your tribe(s) cannot be understated. The members of your tribe offer validation and encouragement, but finding yourself in the wrong tribe sucks the life out of you. Robinson encourages us to “try a tribe on for size.” Spend time with other people with differing interests, seek opportunities you may never have considered, and look for others who are doing what you think might be your passion. Getting to know the culture of a tribe can help you determine your Element, as well as the ways in which you prefer to engage your Element.
What's Your Attitude
"Whether you see the cup half empty or half full is often a matter of choice and experience."
Citing Carol Dweck’s research, Robinson reminds us that our mindset, dispositions, and attitudes have a significant effect on what we achieve in life. In fact, individuals with a growth mindset (versus a fixed mindset) believe that they can change and grow. “The passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it even, or especially, when it’s not going well is the hallmark of the growth mindset.” So too, finding your Element is frequently the result of your attitude and persistence.
It’s important to remember that identifying your Element is an extremely personalized process. Finding your tribe and having a positive mindset are only a couple of the strategies outlined in Finding Your Element, but they resonated with me as key to determining if your current state (in work and life) is fulfilling or draining. If you’d like to delve deeper, pick up a copy of Finding Your Element and work through the exercises outlined in its pages. You’ll be glad you did.
Have you found your Element? Is it something you always “just knew?” or did it take a while to discover? What activities have helped you to get there?