In his book, The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything, Ken Robinson, Ph.D. tells us that we each need to find that place where the things we love to do intersect with the things we know how to do well. Robinson calls this place of intersecting talent and passion “the Element.” Each person needs to find and understand their Element––not only for personal fulfillment–– but also to contribute effectively to our communities and organizations.
Our schools, our homes, our work places, and our public institutions need to provide environments where people can grow in response to each person’s strengths and affinities.
We need to think differently about the process of human development and growth. Some of that process involves faith in each individual’s ability to make positive choices concerning their interests and passions. Using passion to learn leads to the development of skills and talents that evolve into a personal strength.
To use the Element, we have to learn to use our imaginations in fresh ways. Our perceptions need to be about possibility thinking and not doing exactly what has been done before. When we are using our Element, with imagination, human potential is released in our creative endeavors.
As potential is exercised, a sense of wellbeing is established. This feeling is what some of us call being “in the zone.” When you are in the zone you feel as if every action and thought is in synchronicity with the universe. When you are in the zone you feel that whatever you are doing is what you are supposed to be doing. When you are in your Element you feel that you are doing the right thing at the right time in the right place with the right people.
As your skills and passion grow through being in the zone, another key to unleashing personal potential appears—you’ll be surrounded by a group of like-minded and supportive people. Robinson calls this phenomenon as “finding your tribe.”
Being involved with a group of people to work on a common goal reinforces the positive effects of being in your Element. Think of a singer and an accompanist. A theatre group. A volunteer organization. A business development team. A family. The list goes on and on.
We need to help our children find that place that intersects with what they love to do and what they do well. We need to watch for signs of how they spend their time and what they are happiest doing.
My nephew’s first word was “ball.” Even though he is not a professional ball player, he loves to play and coach baseball. Watching him coach his son’s Little League team, it is obvious he is in his Element. He’s in that place where what he loves to do intersects with what he does well. It is a joy to see.
We need to be on the look out for these Elemental signs. Knowing and living your passion does, indeed, change everything.