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The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything [Hardcover]

Ken Robinson , Lou Aronica
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (112 customer reviews)

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Book Description

5 Feb 2009
The element is the point at which natural talent meets personal passion. This groundbreaking new book is all about how every one of us can find our element, connecting with our true talents and fulfilling our creative potential. Creativity expert Ken Robinson believes that we are all born with tremendous natural capacities, but that we lose touch with them as we spend more time in the world. Whether it’s a child bored in class, an employee being misused or just someone who feels frustrated but can’t quite explain why, too many people don’t know what they are really capable of achieving. Education, business and society as a whole are losing out. The Element draws on the stories of a wide range of people – from ex-Beatle Paul McCartney to renowned physicist Richard Feynman and many others, including business leaders and athletes – showing how all of them came to recognize their unique talents and were able to make a successful living doing what they love. With a wry sense of humour and a sense of optimism, Ken Robinson looks at the conditions that enable us to find ourselves in the element, and those that stifle that possibility. He shows that age and occupation are no barrier and he argues that there is an urgent need to enhance creativity and innovation by thinking differently about ourselves.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Allen Lane; UK First Edition edition (5 Feb 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846141966
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846141966
  • Product Dimensions: 2.9 x 14.4 x 22.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (112 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 273,564 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Authors

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Product Description


With a crackling wit and a deep humanity, (Ken Robinson) urges us to ignore the naysayers, bypass the crowd and find the place where our talents and desires intersect (Daniel Pink, author of A Whole New Mind)

A book that lightens and lifts the minds and hearts of all who read it (Susan Jeffers, author of Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway)

Happiness really is within your grasp (Guardian)

The Element gives you the feeling that all is possible if we dig deeply within ourselves, using our imaginations and curiosity (Vidal Sassoon) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Ken Robinson is an internationally recognised leader in the development of creativity, innovation and human resources. He has worked with national governments in Europe and Asia, international agencies, Fortune 500 companies, national and state education systems, non-profit organisations and some of the world's leading cultural organisations. He was knighted in 2003 for his contribution to education and the arts.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
GILLIAN WAS ONLY eight years old, but her future was already at risk. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
78 of 79 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring book 13 Mar 2009
I realy enjoyed Sir Ken Robinson's book which is highly readable and talks about the concept of finding one's true calling in life (which he says, is the point at which one's talents overlap with one's highest passions - 'the Element'). This he does, through the telling of people's stories. It is inspiring stuff for those who want to believe the quote from Confucius - "If you enjoy what you do, you'll never work another day in your life". The book introduces the topic wonderfully although readers should be aware that there is little within the book about how to actually go about pursuing your dreams, although I am sure this was intentionally outside the scope of the book (for that I'd refer people to Marcus Buckingham's excellent book 'Go put your strengths to work' and his video podcast with Oprah which is free on iTunes).

My one gripe (which is minor), is that the stories are all about immensely successful people (e.g.Paul McCartney, Matt Groening) which are amazing but it might of been nice to see a few 'real people' stories where people successfully pursued their passions and found happiness but weren't necessarily world beaters. If anyone interested in the book hasn't yet seen Sir Ken's TED talk I'd thoroughly recommend that you view in on YouTube.
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59 of 60 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is not a self-help instruction manual! 24 Jan 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase

I'm writing this review because some people here seem to have bought it thinking it was a self-help manual. I guess the title is a little misleading.

What it is is a collection of anecdotes about people who have found their element - a passion for doing something that makes an hour feel like five minutes. To get an idea of what this book is about, do a web search for Ken Robinson. He's done two presentations for (Technology, Education and Design) and a fantastic animated presentation about our current education systems and the crisis that's been facing them for the past 30 or so years.

This book will give you marvellous insights what creativity is and into the lives and life-changing moments in creative people's lives. Just don't expect it to give you step by step instructions on how to find your element because there aren't any - everyone is different and everyone finds their element in a different way, sometimes by a very round-about route. If you understand this book, you'll know what you have to do.

I hope this helps! :)
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87 of 91 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining speaker, very disappointing book 1 Jun 2010
Having seen Ken Robinson's talks on TED, I felt motivated to check out his book. I found what he had to say was both entertaining and inspirational, and I felt inclined to find out more.

Well, what of the book? I can suppose why many people gave it 4 and 5 stars. We all enjoy a good story. I do, and at first I did genuinely find the stories interesting and inspirational, but here the author uses a story to put forward even the smallest idea. By the time I was half way through I felt myself getting weary. The point itself seemed lost.
But there aren't just success stories. There are other kinds of stories, some of which really seem like digressions for the sake of a story, until at last it arrives on a wispy point, a brief bridge before, god help me, another story. I'm sorry to say there's little substance to this.

I loved hearing the Author speak on TED and in this book he describes speaking as his personal 'element', he explains that when you're in your 'element', time seems to slow down. This could explain how he got the bulk of this 288 page book's message in to a 20 minute talk.

If you are happy to read lots of stories about people finding their inspiration, get this book. If you are looking to be pointed toward finding your own inspiration, don't bother.
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170 of 183 people found the following review helpful
I have never written an Amazon review before - but I was so annoyed by this book and how little I got from reading it, that I was moved to write one. Ken Robinson is apparently "an internationally acclaimed leader in creativity and innovation" and I had big expectations that this book would yield some new insights on this topic. It absolutely didn't.
This book's sub-title is "how finding your passion changes everything". Chapter after chapter lists case studies, rather clunkily and poorly written, of people who were mostly born with natural talent and a calling in life. For example, we read about world-class snooker players, dancers, writers...all at the top of their profession and making money from it. But what about all the millions of others who have found their element - as an illustrator or novelist, for example, but just can't make a living from it. For every Meg Ryan (there's a case study about her in the book) there's thousands of unknown actresses who love what they do but can't make money from it or get recognition. In the case studies described in the book, most are famous and the seeds of their talent were obvious from the start and Ken Robinson tells us how marvellous their lives are now that they have found their "element" or what gives them their creative kicks in life. Trouble is that most people simply don't know what their "element" is - and they will be absolutely none the wiser after this. In fact, they will even be demoralised by how easily the case-studies he describes seemed to hook up with their personal "element". There's information on how the education should change to teach creativity, but no clues about how to find it if you are older.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Delivery was great. Bought it for a friend after seeing a ...
Delivery was great. Bought it for a friend after seeing a bunch of public talks by the author. A great insight into the current state of education, useful to parents, teachers and... Read more
Published 13 days ago by Viara
3.0 out of 5 stars Full of promises, short of substance
Like many "How to" books, it's full of promises, but short of substance. The back cover is misleading: the book is not groundbreaking, and Robinson does not explain... Read more
Published 15 days ago by GUY'S BOOKS
3.0 out of 5 stars Doesn't add much to the TED talk
He's a nice guy and everything and well intentioned and the message of this book is one I like but it is a bit repetitive. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Joe
5.0 out of 5 stars Find The Passion And Unlock The Potential Of Each Child.
Fantastic read that every teacher and education minister should read. It's not all about Maths and Literacy... Read more
Published 1 month ago by BelfastReader
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
I am struggling to read this book. It is repetitious and name dropping. I thought the case studies would lead somewhere. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Ariadne
4.0 out of 5 stars watch the TED talk then read this
I would really encourage to watch Ken Robinsons TED talk first, as it adds some good ground context behind this book. Read more
Published 1 month ago by stehilton
4.0 out of 5 stars Issues made regarding education systems
Initially, I found the book rather inspiring with lots of examples of success stories but then found the middle sections quite repetitive. Read more
Published 2 months ago by tabob
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it
Great body of work, eloquent, creative and useful for organizational and personal growth. Sensitive writing, not to conceptual but inspiring material.
Published 2 months ago by Esteban Duran Delgado
3.0 out of 5 stars An easy read
Ken writes well and the point is well argued but he doesn't really tell you HOW to find your passion
Published 2 months ago by Peter John Manolescue
5.0 out of 5 stars Book Review
Inspiring book for anyone involved in education or any contact with children, including their own. Every child needs to know how to decide on a future career and doing something... Read more
Published 3 months ago by James Melville Hall
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