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What is the Element?

-A response to ‘The Element’ by Sir Ken Robinson.

The Element is the meeting point between natural talent and personal passion. It’s when you feel your true self. What you love most doing and lose all perception of time and space while doing it. We all have our individual talent, and I think it’s each of our responsibility to connect to what you love most, and devote yourself to it interlay.

Ken talkes about education and creativity. About the importance of each finding their own way in the world to express their true being. He talkes about what is so disturbing in the assembly line education system, which basically trys to fit us all into a labeled box.

I discovered Sir Ken Robinson a year ago in his TED talkes from 2006 and 2010. I STRONGLY recommend seeing them both in the right order. He basically says in them all that he says in the essay which was recommended by the staff, and frankly, I think he’s much funnier in them. For those of you who are inspired by him like I was- read his books! ‘The Element’, and ‘Time Out of Our Mind’ (which I’m currently reading).

Ken preaches we should all find our tribes to help us connect to our element. A group of people who share their passion and a desire to make the most of themselves through it.
I feel so lucky to join a tribe like ITP…

662 comments to What is the Element?

  • nh19

    Happiness IS that intersection of what you love to do and what you’re good at. Total Bliss is when you add: and is good for the world!

  • arc507

    I happened upon Sir Ken Robinson’s TED presentation on creativity in education back in the day and was instantly blown away. To date it is still one of my favorite TED talks of all time (I think it’s one of the most viewed as well). We’re currently growing up and pursuing our education in an age where technology and creativity are becoming a more relevant part of any school syllabus.
    Coming from Germany (industry nation and therefore engineering-focused), there is overall less focus on creativity, especially in early education. There are private schools that provide a more holistic and nature-based approach to teaching, but kids in public schools often look down on these because children learn to sew and dance. Interestingly enough in higher education there are plenty internationally renowned universities for highly creative studies. (One example is the UdK, Universitaet der Kueste, in Berlin that has guest professors like Ai Wei Wei).
    Wherever I am in the world, I still see “the creative” as a person on the rise. Be it in terms of job profiles, companies or whole industries – the value and necessity of creative work and creative people has become prevalent. I personally think it is therefore only a matter of time till this reflects on the public school system. It is essential that we foster and build our children’s creativity to cope with future challenges.
    Thanks to people like Sir Ken Robinson that publicly address these topics and proactively try to make a difference!

  • dal230

    Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi writes a lot about this topic. We’re happier when we’re engaged – when we lose ourselves in an activity like a game or interesting work – surfing is a good metaphor for the kind of relaxed, balanced focus we find in such activities. Despite Chris Hedges criticism of the approach as happy talk or self help, I find flow to be a good motivation to work harder to find rewarding work that provides flow.

    From Amazon, said better perhaps:

    “`What is a good life?’, is basically the question addressed by this book. Well, isn’t a good life just about being happy? Ok, but that is not the complete answer. For how do we become and stay happy? Not by watching TV, eating, or relaxing all day! In small doses these things are good and improve your daily life, but the effects are not additive. In other words: a point of diminishing returns is quickly reached. Also you don’t become happy by having to do nothing. Csikszentmihalyi’s research shows that both intrinsic motivation (wanting to do something) and extrinsic motivation (having to do something) are preferable to not having any kind of goal to focus your attention. “

  • “The Element is the meeting point between natural talent and personal passion. It’s when you feel your true self. What you love most doing and lose all perception of time and space while doing it.”

    I definitely felt like that when I first performed 2 years ago on the streets of Rio. I had never before done this piece by myself, that I had the idea pondering on my mind for years before, but always thought it was a useless idea (that however never abandoned me). I wanted to perform using mini guitar and mini amplifier and do electronic music while I could walk, so that anyone could listen to my songs, regardless of paying for it or buying a record or having to go to my shows.

    But, when I finally put together the mini 9 volt amps and dressed as an invented character (a mix of soldier and skeleton rock star), with a handheld nintendo on one arm and a small kids guitar, a teachers mic on the chest, I lost track of time, I did play around for almost 2h in a role.

    For that period, life made total sense, it put me on contact with the unexpected and made me feel that I can do what I dream of and make people happy on the way. There is no logical purpose on life itself, and everyone is responsable for taking the most of what they can create to make life a great experience.

  • Talya Stein

    Mary Fe- it sounds that you definitely found your element 🙂
    The beauty of it is, that your element was invented by you and now you can own it. I’ve never heard of any one else performing as a half soldier, half skeleton rock star, but it sounds like it’s who you are supposed to be. Who you really are.
    That’s what so special about the element. You and only you can find it. No one else. It’s not like there’s a recipe or a map to tell you were to go or what to do. And when you finely find it, there is no escaping it. It’s like you have an internal voice that tells you to be true to your self and be all you can be.