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Finding Your Element: How to Discover Your Talents and Passions and Transform Your Life (Inglese) Copertina flessibile – 14 mar 2005
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The New York Times Bestseller
The Element is the point where your personal passions and natural talents meet. But how do you find this formula for happiness?
Ken Robinson's international bestseller The Element has inspired readers all over the world to change their lives. This new companion is a practical guide containing all the tools, techniques and resources you need to discover the depth of your abilities and unlock your potential. Among the questions it answers are:
• How do I find out what my talents and passions are?
• What if I love something I'm not good at - or I'm good at something I don't love?
• What if I can't make a living from my Element?
• How do I do help my children find their Element?
No matter what you do, or where you are in life, if you're searching for your Element, this book will help you find it.
'Happiness really is within your grasp' Guardian
'Leads readers to a place where natural aptitudes and abilities converge with one's passions' Kirkus Reviews
Sir Ken Robinson, PhD, is an internationally recognized leader in the development of creativity, innovation and human potential. He advises governments, corporations, education systems, and some of the world's leading cultural organizations. The videos of his famous talks to the prestigious TED Conference have been watched by an estimated 300 million people in over 150 countries.
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I'm not saying this is bad advice, or that the commonsense wisdom, spoken through the silver-tongued mouth of Sir Ken Robinson, won't inspire some to get off their butts and take action. But the majority of the book contains disappointingly obvious cliches backed up by real-life accounts of people who have followed this obvious advice, and, unsurprisingly, had positive results. *It worked for Sally-Jo... It can work for you, too!*
For me, the book never digs deep enough into the gritty, challenging areas of helping people transition to a meaningful career. Rarely if ever, for example, does the text address the fact that we live in a techno-industrial civilization that is specifically designed to prevent most people from fulfilling their individual creative potential, and to enslave us in a monolithic, hierarchical corporate economy. "You always have choices," Sir Ken boasts confidently. Well, in today's world of neoliberal domination, choices are becoming narrower and narrower for the vast majority of the population.
The book feels somewhat out of touch with the struggles of everyday people. It's very genial throughout, and the tone is avuncular, as if a rich old uncle is talking to his young rich nephew about whether or not he should be a horse jockey or continue in the family silver business. It's not easy to find my element when I can barely stay afloat in the economy, and it's a tragedy that Finding Your Element is such a luxury in contemporary society, where there's more than enough wealth for everyone to share, were it more equally distributed.
I'm fighting desperately to find my element, but sometimes I feel it's a losing battle because of the intense pressure the system puts on my back to conform and become a wage slave so I can survive.
Criticisms aside, if you're looking for a basic book to give you a few ideas about how to expand your world, you could do worse. Some bits of wisdom that genuinely resonated:
• Finding your element is about discovering what lies within you and, in doing so, transforming what lies before you.
• Being in your element gives you energy. Not being in it takes it from you.
• Many of the opportunities you have in your life are generated by the energy you create around you.
• The search for your element 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.
• Do all you can to explore new avenues of possibilities in yourself and in the world around you.
• You may be better than you think at what you love. You may underestimate your talent because you set unreasonably high standards for yourself. Having high standards is good, provided you're not immobilized by self-criticism.
• Connecting with people who share your Element can have tremendous benefits for you and them.
• The most common regret: Not having the courage to live a life true to yourself.
He has three major principles:
Principle #1: Your Life is Unique.
We're all different.
We're all a mix of nature and nurture.
Principle #2: You create your own life.
Carl Jung: "I am not what has happened to me, I am what I choose to become."
Principle #3: Life is Organic
We all change. We don't have a linear path. He incorporates a lot of examples of successful people who had a completely nonlinear path to success.
Vivek Wadhwa, famous for his work on immigrants working in the technology field in the United States, realized that "there is no link between what you study in college and how successful or otherwise you are later in your life."
Ken Robinson talks about a lot of the existing literature and methods for finding out what your passion is and he's fairly critical of them. He talks about what's called the Forer Effect, also known as the Barnum Effect. You mold your personality to conform with what people tell you your personality incorporates. Robinson is in favor of using personality types to describe yourself, but he says not to let the personality definitions (MBTI for example) limit you.
He also takes a lot of time to talk about happiness and positive psychology. He differentiates between your physical and spiritual well-being. When I was in the Andes and taking an anthropology class, I learned that the indigenous culture believes in two types of life force. One is the breath of life and the other I would call the force of spirit, just like Scott Russell Sanders' The Force of Spirit. He talks about Gretchen Rubin The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun.
His definition of happiness comes from Sonja Lyubomirsky: Happiness is the experience of joy, contentment, and well-being combined with a sense that life is good and worthwhile. I felt like that was a really comprehensive yet concise summary and I think that the happiness section was the best part of this book.
Robinson goes on to talk about the 5 different kinds of well-being: career, social, financial, physical, and community. He asks you what sorts of hurdles or responsibilities you have and what sorts of risks that you can take. He asks you who you want to be, but in a much more specific way.
He also talks about Bonnie Ware The Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing, because a lot of his action steps at the end of the book have to do with mitigating risks. I found it interesting that a lot of the suggestions that he had were in line with things that Barry Schwartz said at the end of The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less.
I've seen Robinson's TED talk and expected more of the book to be about the education system and creativity. While he does talk about them, he encourages the reader to engage in a lot of introspection through a variety of exercises; each chapter ends with a few questions about you and your life. My favorite exercises had to do with vision boards. I used Pinterest to create them and I really loved having a concrete, pictorial representation of more abstract concepts, such as the activities that I do in daily life.
Robinson also says that it's all an iterative process and we grow organically (Principle #3), so nobody should expect his or her desires at one point to be the same as at another point in his or her life. I know that it's valuable for me to read this as a recent college graduate and that I'll read it again, further down the line.