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The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  17,216 ratings  ·  1,671 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
Hardcover, 274 pages
Published January 8th 2009 by Viking Books
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Asha Prakash I believe teachers play a vital role in helping children search for that special element, (passion) while preparing them to meet the educational stand…moreI believe teachers play a vital role in helping children search for that special element, (passion) while preparing them to meet the educational standards. Its then each student has to be encouraged to find ones own passion.(less)

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May 02, 2010 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 02, 2012 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 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
Deirdre Keating
Jan 03, 2010 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,
Ian Laird
25 March 2016: minor edits to correct sloppy proofing

Like many millions (literally) round the world I am captivated by Sir Ken Robinson’s TED talks on education.

He makes 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 underrated themselves.

Sir Ken’s thesis is that education is an industrial process which
May 10, 2011 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
Aug 18, 2013 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
Jul 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
I have a great respect for Ken Robinson's opinions, especially as an educator. His opinions and theories that schools are partly responsible for the decline in human creativity are opinions shared by many. I appreciate that he does not blame teachers for this decline, but rather how schools are currently set up and functioning. If one spends any extended period of time talking with public school education teachers, the majority will talk about their distaste for the negative effects of testing o ...more
Aug 03, 2011 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,
Apr 17, 2012 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
Apr 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 12, 2009 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
May 24, 2021 rated it it was ok
A classic example of survivor bias. I generally agree with the message in the book but a whole bunch of stories of rare, highly talented, successful people get boring after a while... How about the many millions that followed their passion and did not succeed? What can we learn from them? What's the balance between passion and practicality? ...more
Sep 01, 2020 rated it did not like it
Ken Robinson's TED talk, "Do Schools Kill Creativity?", is one the most viewed talks. I assume lots of its viewers decided to read this book too. I had high hopes of him and even scheduled a plan to read the other book that he published after this one, "Finding Your Element". But the reality was different than what I thought about this book and I got more frustrated as I went through this book, again and again.
The plot is repetitive in each chapter: you'll read about some rare situations and sto
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
Wayne Osborn
Jul 30, 2012 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
Jul 04, 2018 rated it liked it
Ken Robinson gave a lot of interesting stories and anecdotes in this book, but for some reason it fell flat for me in terms of igniting inspiration and sparking new motivation and thought. I enjoyed this book, but I was hoping for more.

There were many times it brought up good questions to invite you to ponder on different aspects of what you want out of life however (my favorite being "HOW are you intelligent?"). He then goes on to talk more about divergent thinking and how you can only inspire
Hannah W.
Jun 08, 2021 rated it really liked it
I think the book helped me understand the importance in having passions and setting aside time for them/dedicating your life to them, but it didn’t help me understand HOW I can find my passion(s). But overall feeling a little bit more connected with myself and others after reading this
May 25, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I respect Sir Ken Robinson and his message. However, i unfortunately, felt that if you listened to the TED talk, you did not need to read the book.
Erika RS
Jul 21, 2013 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
Tagwa Warrag
Feb 19, 2014 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
Nov 12, 2009 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
Loy Machedo
Nov 21, 2012 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 speeches ab
Scott "Bjorn" Cummings
Dec 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Brian Johnson
Aug 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
“My aim in writing [this book] is to offer a richer version of human ability and creativity and of the benefits to us all of connecting properly with our individual talents and passions. This book is about issues that are of fundamental importance in our lives and in the lives of our children, our students, and the people we work with. I use the term the Element to describe the place where the things we love to do and the things we are good at come together. I believe it is essential that each o ...more
Diana Rothbauer
Feb 11, 2011 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
Feb 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: art, psychology
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
Apr 26, 2012 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
Jun 19, 2009 rated it it was ok
For a book that looks inspiring, this book sure left me dessicated. I finished it afraid of the world my children will be facing and feeling meaningless as a human. If I try to sum the message I think it would be... "Celebrities are cool. You are not. But you should be. You could have been. Oh well, too late."

So you are left feeling bad that you didn't become a broadway star or a world renowned artist or a 20-something mogul or teenaged technology innovator.

But here's the thing: not everybody c
Lisa Hawkins
Oct 11, 2010 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,
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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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22 likes · 2 comments
“If you're not prepared to be wrong, you'll never come up with anything original.” 727 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.” 234 likes
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