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The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything

3.88  ·  Rating Details  ·  8,997 Ratings  ·  1,042 Reviews
From one of the world's leading thinkers and speakers on creativity and self-fulfillment, a breakthrough book about talent, passion, and achievement

The element is the point at which natural talent meets personal passion. When people arrive at the element, they feel most themselves and most inspired and achieve at their highest levels. The Element draws on the stories of a
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published January 8th 2009 by Viking (first published January 1st 2000)
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Quiet by Susan CainEat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth GilbertDaring Greatly by Brené BrownThe Last Lecture by Randy PauschThe Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown
books from TED
9th out of 76 books — 295 voters
Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared DiamondPredictably Irrational by Dan ArielyThe Element by Ken RobinsonCurious by Ian LeslieThe Talent Code by Daniel Coyle
Human engagement
3rd out of 44 books — 5 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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May 03, 2010 Jackie rated it it was ok
I was very fond of Ken Robinson after seeing his Ted speech, so I followed my friend's recommendation to read this book. This was a mistake.

If you're wondering what wisdom lies in this book, don't bother; I'll summarize it for you:

"Little Johnny didn't like school very much. He sucked at math and couldn't concentrate and everyone told him he was a moron. But then he quit school and read my book and joined a rockband, and now he's a multi-billionaire who won at life. This could be you, and the on
Jan 04, 2012 Michael rated it it was amazing
I had came across with Ken Robinson’s speech on TED | Talks for TED Conference 2006. It was one of those I’m lost, what should I do afternoons. Every word, every sentence that he said has penetrated to my heart and soon enough my heart just couldn’t help it and started to scream: “I told you several times! You are a teacher; please stop going against your fate, your true calling!” Though the epiphany has yet to come only after I have read his book – The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes ...more
Apr 28, 2009 Jay rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
The author defines "The Element" as the thing you are both passionate about doing and good at doing. He offers some basic ideas on ways to find the element for yourself, drawing on examples as illustrations. On the whole, I prefered Marcus Buckingham's "THe One Thing You Need to Know."

One idea from the book did stand out. In talking about standards for educatuion, Robinson offers an analogy to standards for restaurants. Fast food restaurants have very rigorous standards which get applied to the
May 10, 2011 Wesjackson07 rated it really liked it
An amazing book. I first discovered Ken Robinson via Ted Talks and was absolutely captivated by his speech, primarily because he spoke to something I've always believed was true but had never heard articulated so well. The specific chord that resonated for me was that schools are failing our students because of the hierarchy established in school subjects and how schools are only assessing certain types of intelligence. So many children are being told they're not bright or talented if their inte ...more
Deirdre Keating
Jan 03, 2010 Deirdre Keating marked it as to-read
I don't really need to read a whole book on finding the crosspoint between passion and talent, but this is the quote that got me:

p. 238 The most powerful method of improving education is to invest in the improvement of teaching and the status of great teachers. There isn’t a great school anywhere that doesn’t have great teachers working in it. But there and plenty of poor schools with shelves of curriculum standards and reams of standardized tests.
The fact is that given the challenges we face,
Aug 03, 2011 Arturo rated it it was ok
I really like Ken Robinson. I feel that he is a very insightful thinker into changing education paradigms (in fact, if you youtube "changing education paradigms, ken robinson" a very excellent video of one of his speeches comes up.) I love hearing his talks. They tend to be very enlightening, concise and entertaining.

Unfortunately, this book wasn't much of either of those. I felt that while some of the examples he gave were useful to help readers see how other people have reached their element,
May 10, 2009 Craig rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone!
Although "The Element" was authored by Ken Robinson, this is the book I've been writing for the past ten years.

For a long time, I've been arguing that passion is a bridge between our unique human potential and our social responsibility. I begin almost every workshop, speech, and lecture by asking my participants to talk about one of their personal or professional passions.

Eyes light up and the temperature in the room rises as people connect to what Robinson would call "their element."

His book i
Wayne Osborn
Jul 30, 2012 Wayne Osborn rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. I was particularly touched by the various stories that are told in which people have struggled with academics in school, and yet found their passion and became wildly successful. Gillian Lynne was a bundle of energy in second grade, and couldn't sit still or pay attention in class. Her teachers were sure there was something wrong with her (this occurred in the pre-ADD days) and urged her parents to take her to a psychologist. After interviewing her, the psychologist became con ...more
Why am I reading stuff like this? I'm in a rut, where nothing interests me, my spark of interest in anything is gone and I want that spark back. Even when I have free time, I don't feel like working on my gazillion hobbies.

Of course, I'm in school at 38, juggling a job, homework, home life/chores, and preparing for a career change, but that's neither here nor there, right?

At the same time I'm reading The Artist's Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity so I was interested in comparing the two
Mahmoud Homsi
Feb 09, 2016 Mahmoud Homsi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: psychology
؟ (your Element) كيف يمكن أن تكتشف جوهرك
أعني كيف يمكن أن تعرف المجال الذي تبدع فيه .. المجال الذي لديك حماسة و حرقة لفعله ؟ و يسميه الكاتب بــالجوهر
يحاول الكتاب أن يقدم الجواب بشكل مبسط و واقعي .. يبين لنا الوسائل التي تؤدي بنا لاكتشاف أنفسنا و اكتشاف الجوهر
و ينتقد النظام التعليمي الحالي باختصاره للإنسان إلى آلات تتقن الرياضيات و الفيزياء و الطب
و تحصر مفهوم الذكاء ضمن نطاق ضيق تقتل مواهب الطلاب و إبداعاتهم
يؤدي هذا النظام التعليمي بالكثير منا إلى مهن و مسالك لا نحبها .. نفعلها كي نكسب المال أو
Jen Marin
I checked this out of the library because I was looking for interesting audiobooks and the name caught my eye. It wasn't until I started listening that I recognized the author from a TED talk he had given a few years back- (If you haven't seen it, look it up. It is absolutely worth the 20 minutes.)

I found this book to be inspirational, entertaining, and intimidating- all at the same time. Robinson is a good storyteller, and the book is chock full of interesting anecdotes of both famous and not-s
Erika RS
Jul 21, 2013 Erika RS rated it liked it
Overall, this was a good read but not a must read. If you watched Ken Robinson's TED talks, and it left you wanting more of the same, then you'll enjoy the book. If those talks were sufficient for you, this doesn't offer much new, just more depth.

In the book, the author describes the importance of finding your passion. He doesn't describe -- and doesn't try to describe -- how to find your own passion. Rather, he describes what it feels like and looks like to live a life activated by passion. He
Apr 17, 2012 Kerfe rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
My brother sent me a link to a video by Ken Robinson about education:!

I liked it so much that I wanted to learn more, and found out about his books on his website.

"The Element" is for the most part a disappointment--pop self-help at its worst. We learn about many people and how they overcame adversity to find, and become successful and well-known, for doing what they love. Which is fine. But everyone can't be Paul McCartney or Monica Seles or Meg Ryan or
Tagwa Warrag
Sep 04, 2015 Tagwa Warrag rated it it was amazing
So much enlighting and reassuring. Each and every line of this book is gold, will make sure that my kids read it!
This is my second most favorite non-fiction after "The Outliers". It is the kind of books that you want to keep reading over and again, scratching down notes and researching further details for the mentioned stories.

It just reminded me of someone I know who dumped a good paid and secure job position because it was nt really what he felt doing for the rest of his life. For finding your
Ian Laird
Like many millions (literally) round the world I was captivated by Sir Ken Robinson’s TED talks on education.

He made so much sense, by emphasising the need for education to be adapted to each individual, and pointing out that intelligence can manifest itself in a multitude of ways. He asked people in the audience to say how creative they are; usually they downgraded themselves. Sir Ken’s thesis is that education is an industrial process which is applied in a one size fits all approach, combined
Diana Rothbauer
Feb 11, 2011 Diana Rothbauer rated it really liked it
The Element is a brilliant book, not the easy read of the Outliers.

It speaks of Education systems and how they actually stiffle creativity and out the box thinking. Which is ironic since once out of school the push by employers is to hire people who are creative and willing to think outside of the box.

It amazing how he defines the creativity and lack thereof in the context of the school system.

The Element discusses the idea of finding what you are good at. Which is a process and not always obvio
Steve Johnson
Nov 03, 2010 Steve Johnson rated it really liked it
Ken Robinson has some great insights on education and discovering the best path for each individual. I read this book from the perception of a pastor looking for better ideas for discipleship. What I got was more conviction than ever that discipleship (spiritual education) needs to be more about God's bent for the individual and less about mass dissemination of information.

I was particularly drawn to the four roles of a mentor: Recognition, Encouragement, Facilitating, and Stretching. A leader
Feb 20, 2011 Abigail rated it it was amazing
Shelves: psychology, art
Have maybe two chapters left on this one - tops. Parts I'd like to go back and re-read, but the book is overdue. Doh.

Overall, VERY good book. One of the better in the "how to find what you want to do with your life" genre. However, it only barely falls into that category, as it's not one of those growingly more common worksheet type books where you ask yourself a dozen questions, but a brilliant and revealing look at the forces behind the birth and evolution of some of the great minds and spirit
Nov 12, 2009 sleeps9hours rated it it was ok
“The Element” is nothing new, just recycling the idea of living your bliss, being in flow, but I’m willing to read many books on that concept. It does go into how our school systems don't encourage people to find their element, and ways to improve schooling.

p. 60 Awesome photos of Earth in comparison to other planets. Gives perspective of how tiny we are in the universe.

p. 117 Interaction with the field, in person or through their work, is as vital to our development as time alone with our thoug
Lisa Hawkins
Oct 11, 2010 Lisa Hawkins rated it it was ok
I bought this book after seeing Robinson's incredibly eloquent, witty and spot-on TED speech on creativity and our schools.

I'm not sure what I would have thought of this book without the video preface. I don't generally warm to single-target suggestions about how to fix our world (The Element, The Promise, The Secret, etc., etc.) and my inner skeptic reels at the subtitle ("How finding your passion changes everything.") Minus the speech, I doubt I would have read it.

Having been tempted forward,
Apr 26, 2012 Mona rated it liked it
Shelves: audiobooks
I actually listened to this 7 CD book during my commute. It has as much to do about reforming the education system as it does about personally finding your passion. The best part of the book are real life examples of successful people (famous and not so famous) that found personal and usually financial success by being true to their passions. Often these were folks that didn't do well in school, weren't good at conforming or were just bored at school and didn't try. Some of these examples got a ...more
Hans Gutbrod
Aug 18, 2013 Hans Gutbrod rated it did not like it
Skeptical of Robinson's TED talk, I picked up this book and found it even more disappointing. There are some sensible ideas: too many people give up on doing things better, testing had it's downsides, kids should be taught more music and art, and similar homilies.

It's great to have such opinions, but these don't yet make an argument. Instead of offering such a substantiated argument, Robinson relies on anecdotes of his kids doing homework, or of some famous people that he talked to. No sane per
Mar 19, 2009 Austin rated it liked it
For us dreamers, books like The Element are thoroughly enjoyable because it encourages us to continue doing what we do best..dream. However this book is not exclusive; it does not have a specific target market and therefore would be readable for people from all walks of life. Outside of reminding myself to be constantly looking for ways to engage my passions, this book changed the way I think about certain things such as intelligence, creativity, and believe it or not, the education system. The ...more
Loy Machedo
Nov 21, 2012 Loy Machedo rated it it was amazing
Loy Machedo’s Book Review – The Element by Sir Ken Robinson

Sir Kenneth Robinson is an English Author, Speaker, and International Advisor on Education in the Arts to government, Non-Profits, Education, and Art Bodies. He shot to fame with his TED Talks Video ‘How Schools Kill Creativity’ which was viewed a staggering 13 million times since it was first uploaded in February 2006.

In 2010, the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures & Commerce animated one of Robinson's speeche
Rachel Li
Aug 15, 2015 Rachel Li rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Rachel by: Kris Provoost
I have always liked to read fiction more than non-fiction, if it hadn't have been my boyfriend's strong recommendation I honestly wouldn't have even peeked at this book at the bookstore. Having said that, I finished this book in 8 days - probably my fastest record in finishing a non-fiction book!

One of the reasons this type of self-improvement book has never been my choice of book is that I always find them just talking about common sense - why do I have to spend hours reading a book on somethin
Jun 11, 2015 Megan rated it liked it
I really enjoyed the various stories of people doing the things they love, as well as the insights into how our education systems need to be transformed to help everyone find their passion. I realized that I need to narrow down my focus so I can get better at the things I'm really interested in (drawing and writing about nature).

I was hoping for more practical info about finding the Element for myself, but I suppose there are other books out there that fulfill that purpose (such as Kick-Ass Crea
João Caramujo
Sep 10, 2015 João Caramujo rated it really liked it
Descobri o Ken Robinson com aquela mítica conferência TED, na qual ele já refere este livro (na altura ainda em desenvolvimento). No geral, o livro é muito interessante. Através de entrevistas a várias "mentes brilhantes" nas mais variadas áreas, Robinson mostra-nos as falhas do sistema de ensino público à escala global. Com um estilo irónico, às vezes até humorístico, apresenta-nos as suas ideias onde os testemunhos, claro, são a parte fundamental. Por outro lado, peca por uma excessiva repetiç ...more
Jan 26, 2013 Luis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
"El Elemento" es un libro para paladear página a página. Está estructurado de una forma excepcional: a medida que se nos va describiendo la importancia de encontrar el Elemento en nuestras vidas y cómo podemos llegar a conocerlo, cada capítulo está salpicado de entrañables historias particulares: historias de personas exitosas a nivel mundial, pero tan reales como tú y como yo, que llegaron a ser lo que son porque tuvieron la suerte de encontrar lo que este libro describe.

Así, las narraciones de
Sheryl Sorrentino
Oct 15, 2012 Sheryl Sorrentino rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Parents, teachers, students, middle-aged workers
Recommended to Sheryl by: Costco Connection magazine
As someone who didn’t discover my own passion for writing until my late forties, I really appreciated Ken Robinson’s The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything. He makes some obvious (yet scathingly honest) observations about worldwide education systems as we know them—systems that are based on an industrial, assembly-line model of conformity and take a “fast food” approach to "quality control." Robinson notes that this approach mandates uniformity, emphasizes a miniscule number of ...more
I learned so much from this book. What an exciting read! I've got underlining and notes the whole way through.

It spoke to me personally on seeing how to discover (or affirm) my own Element(s). It also spoke to me as a parent and youth leader in helping my kids and others to discover theirs, providing opportunities for them to hang with a good "tribe" and and encouraging them to discover and enjoy their interests and talents.

Robinson provides story after story to illustrate his point. It was grea
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Sir Ken Robinson (born Liverpool 4 March 1950) is an internationally recognized leader in the development of innovation and human resources. He has worked with national governments in Europe and Asia, with international agencies, Fortune 500 companies, national and state education systems, non-profit corporations and some of the world’s leading cultural organizations. They include the Royal Shakes ...more
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“If you're not prepared to be wrong, you'll never come up with anything original.” 526 likes
“The fact is that given the challenges we face, education doesn't need to be reformed -- it needs to be transformed. The key to this transformation is not to standardize education, but to personalize it, to build achievement on discovering the individual talents of each child, to put students in an environment where they want to learn and where they can naturally discover their true passions.” 180 likes
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