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Are You in Your Element? Where is the Intersection of Your Talent and Passion? How to Find it HERE with Sir Ken Robinson

One of my all time most popular DishyMix guests is Sir Ken Robinson. He has a new book out called, “The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything.” Sir Ken is an international leader in human potential and creativity and education.

Sir Ken Robinson, author of “The Element”

Here’s an excerpt from my interview with Sir Ken about finding your passion and being in “the element.”

Susan Bratton: Sir Ken, when I read your book I really felt like what you did was kick open the door to a new realm of talent assessment tools. I, poof, popped into a whole new place where there was so much more for me to understand about myself and the people that I love and work with, about their talents and their capabilities. You referenced a lot of people’s work and stitched it together, with your own special spin and look at humans and their unique ways of being. Please describe The Element for us. Give us that level set.

The Element, by Sir Ken Robinson

Sir Ken Robinson: Okay, well The Element, the title comes from an expression that a lot of people use, and I hear myself saying, you know, which is that people do their best when they do the thing they love, when they’re in their element. And I thought, “Well what is that exactly”, because it’s clear to me in my experience that an awful lot of people do things for a living that they don’t really like doing, they don’t much enjoy it, they just get on with it because they have found their way into it and, you know, they live their lives in a kind of low grade sense of tolerance, is what they do.

And yet I also meet lots of people that actually love what they do and couldn’t really imagine doing anything else. You know, they’re in their element, so to speak. Well it’s two things it seems to me. One of them is to be in your element you have to be doing something that you have a natural attitude for, a natural feel. And the truth is, we all have very, very different attitudes. You know, we take the things in very different ways. But it’s not enough to be doing something you’re good at, because I know lots of people who do things they’re good at that they don’t really much like doing. To be in your element you have to love it too. And if you are doing something you’re good at and something that you also love to do, that seems to me to be the perfect place and that’s what being in your element is.

Susan Bratton: So it’s the intersection of your talent and your passion… And that was the point in the book. It doesn’t matter what your talents are if you don’t love them. If you’re really good at numbers and they bore you to death, don’t do it. If you love plants and growing things and that’s your passion and it’s a part of your talent, that’s where you should be.

Sir Ken Robinson: That’s right. And it applies definitely to people in all sorts of different walks of life, you know. For some people it’s math, for some people it’s working with people, it’s teaching, it’s doing what you’re doing now, you know, or it’s, it could be cooking or raising families, or anything at all. I mean our attitudes are very different, and that’s in a way a major point in the book. You know, the book is really about diversity and celebrating difference.

Susan Bratton: You wrote, “The best hope for the future is to develop a new paradigm of human capacity to meet a new era of human existence.” I think that goes to what you’re saying, that every one of us has a unique talent. You know, you’ve been very critical of our education system being a part of the industrial revolution mechanism. That we are thinking about people’s talents and pigeon holing them as well, and you want to get out of that and find a lot of new ways. What are some of the things that we can do as people who manage other people for example, to create this new era of human existence?

Sir Ken Robinson: The shift I’m talking about, as you say, is from an old model, not just of education but of the mind to, a richer model. You know, the current systems education are intended to develop our ability to work, among other things. But the way in which it’s done is rooted so much in the 19th century models of industrial manufacture, that most people now I think never truly discover their own talents through the process of being educated. I have lots of people in the work, I’ve interviewed all kinds of people in the arts and sciences, in business, in not for profits, and many of them didn’t do well at school at all, they. They went on to do brilliantly well afterwards, once they discovered their real talents.

I don’t mean to say that in order to succeed you have to have failed at school first; I mean that would be pushing this a bit far. But it is true that education is designed to identify certain sorts of talents and not all talents. That’s, by the way, education, traditional education at its best. The problem now I think is that our school systems have become so oppressed and stifled by standards of systemized testing that their not even succeeding in their traditional market, so to speak. So a lot of people come through the system never really know what they’re good at…

And I think for companies and organizations, and for parents and families, what I’m trying to argue for is we have to go back and think very differently about the nature of human intelligence and the nature of human ability. We’re grown up with a whole set of ideas that we take for granted about our natural abilities, and the result of it is I think we have a very impoverished view of our own potential, and I think companies have a very impoverished view very often of the real talents that align there in the people they employ.

To listen to the whole interview, click on the buttons below.

Sir Ken Robinson on The Element, Talent Assessment and Feeling Lucky

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Additional Discussion Points from the Interview:

  • What is your human potential, the intersection of aptitude and passion and finding your calling?
  • Does your job make you ecstatically happy or utterly miserable?
  • Your best attributes? Linguistic, musical, mathematical, spatial, kinesthetic, interpersonal or intrapersonal?
  • Do you have more analytic intelligence, creative or practical intelligence?
  • “The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything.”
  • Two free autographed copies for DishyMix fans!
  • The Element from @SirKenRobinson. 2 free autographed copies! Post your desire at DishyMix
  • “The best hope for the future is to develop a new paradigm of human capacity to meet a new era of human existence.”
  • Our school systems have become so oppressed and stifled by standards of systematized testing they’re not succeeding.
  • “Companies have a very impoverished view of the real talents that align in the people they employ.”
  • Howard Gardener says there are 9 main forms of intelligence. What are yours?
  • @SirKenRobinson on Robert Cooper, The Other 90 Percent, about the heart brain and the gut brain.
  • @SirKenRobinson on how experiences go first to the neurological networks of the intestinal track and heart.
  • The enteric nervous system: 2nd brain inside the intestines, independent of, but interconnected with the brain.
  • Why we often experience our first reaction to events as a gut reaction, which shapes everything we do.”
  • Robert Sternberg from Tufts, kind of an anti-IQ guy on analytic, creative and practical intelligence.
  • Herman Brain Dominance: A, B, C & D Quadrants: analytic, implementation, social and future thinking.
  • Herman Brain Dominance Instrument better than Myers Briggs.
  • The Luck Factor by psychologist Gordon Wiseman.
  • Sir Ken Robinson on The Element, Talent Assessment and Feeling Lucky

1 Comment »

  1. coachshera said,

    May 19, 2009 @ 10:43 am

    Another fantastic interview Susan! I agree- Our “vocation/career” is where our passion and the greatest needs intersect. This is the “Great Turning”.. So inspiring to see the shift in action!

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