Ken Robinson on Finding Your Element

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Sir Ken Robinson, whose TED talk on finding your passion is the most watched of all time, explains how we can all find self-fulfillment through our natural talents and personal passions. His new book Finding Your Element: How to Discover Your Talents and Transform Your Life, the follow-up to The Element, serves as a practical guide that helps people find answer the questions: How do I find out what my talents and passions are? What if I love something I’m not good at? What if I’m good at something I don’t love? What if I can’t make a living doing what I most love?


Ken Robinson

Comments [21]

steve from queens

this has made me mad that he is even on the air. I have known for years what the problem is in this country and if we ever try to have a discussion about it, we are told we are anti immigrant and racist. how about we save the hands on jobs for americans and pay a way that someone can live with and count on retirement with. this is BS to put this on the air when we won't have a conversation about how we can't make a living doing some things because of the flood of cheap labor. every body defends immigration and says "americans don't want to do those jobs." that is BS. we want those jobs just at a wage that a man can raise a family on and have a house on and put the kids through college on.

wrong headed to have this discussion without discussing wages and the labor market.

May. 29 2013 12:59 PM
steve from queens

What you are talking about is obvious to a lot of people but comes with challenges. I have a college degree and can easily make a better living than I do by working in an office. Instead, I am a woodworker. Even when I was in college I used to wonder what I was doing there as I knew I liked to work with my hands. But there are not many jobs out there for people who want to work with their hands - there are jobs but they don't pay. I recently had this discussion about this with a very capitalist and republican friend of mine and when I commented that immigration has driven the wages down on a lot of blue collar jobs, his reply was "well, everyone should try to better themselves". He completely does not get that we all don't want to work in offices - that some of us want to work with our hands and want to make a living doing so. A generation ago a lot more middle class men made livings working with their hands - as house painters, as wood workers, as boat builders, as what ever. Between our exporting jobs and the working middle class having to compete against immigrant labor - how many drywall jobs have I lost to a group of undocumented aliens (and my republican capitalist friend admits that Americans would not be able to afford a lot of what they have if it were not for the cheap labor provided by immigration) - there just are not enough hands-on jobs for us out there. the only way I make it is by doing the most highly skilled level of work and even then it is tough. A lot of people defend immigration - when you like to work with your hands like I do, immigration is food off my son's plate.

May. 29 2013 12:52 PM
sandra from brooklyn

Hmmm...was hoping for something a little more than an index of cliche's and statistics we've all heard before. I like what I do, but still. Nothing creative about "Sir's" packaged pitch.

May. 29 2013 12:43 PM
Mia from Manhattan

Does your guest have any tips for people who know what their passions are but are terrified at age 50 to step away from a stable job with benefits in order to try and pursue them as work?

May. 29 2013 12:39 PM
carolita from NYC

It took me 20 years to finally do what I wanted to do. Meanwhile, I didn't slouch around feeling sorry for myself. I was great at nearly everything I did for a living (everything except accounting). I did so many different jobs, and learned so many different things. I feel very proud that I always did them the way Kalil Gibran suggested one work: work as if you're working for someone you love. (paraphrasing to the best of my memory). It makes everything easier to do it right, and it makes you happier. It pains me to walk into boutiques and see people who are so inert and sad that they don't even want to get up and help you, even though there's no one else there. My prediction: they'll never get anywhere.

May. 29 2013 12:39 PM
Amy from Manhattan

I almost went to grad school in linguistics, but a counselor said the only things you could do w/a degree in it were teach & be a missionary! So I didn't, & then things like translation algorithms & speech recognition software came along & needed linguists to work on them. I know a linguist a few years older than me who worked on developing Naturally Speaking.

So now I tell young people trying to decide what to study to learn what they love. You never know how the job market will change.

May. 29 2013 12:37 PM
Kelly from Brooklyn

I teach college, and particular Freshman college students. I see so many students as you say do not know why they are there. I try to orient the Freshman all the first year to help them be aware why they are there. To learn what they don't know. To gain knowledge. To be aware of how much they need to learn and how much they don't know. It is an exhausting struggle, because yes they do treat it as a continuation of high school. And they treat college as an excuse to party. What a waste of tuition!
I think often most students would do best taking a year off to travel, or work at grocery store and stocking shelves, and party if they need to get it out of their system. Then hopefully they will wake up and know what they want from school.

May. 29 2013 12:36 PM
fuva from harlemworld

Yes, ideally, we are exposed enough to find the things we love/are good at. But there's also fulfillment in doing your best, at whatever you're doing, particularly if it benefits societal and/or is a means of sustenance and NOT your passion. Being able to tough it out, despite NOT hitting the passion/skill/work jackpot, can be gratifying too, no?

May. 29 2013 12:36 PM

A dean from BU law school told the good joke -

Three times as many go to pre-med than to pre-law, and three times as many graduate from pre-law than from pre-med. And the reason for it - organic chemistry.

So, talent is a key ingredient. I think Sir Ken Robinson has a talen for b/s. And there is a big difference between proctologitst and pathologists.... although both are important.

May. 29 2013 12:35 PM

I was 40 when I discovered that I had a gift for translating other people's stories (via fan fiction), and it became my passion. Too bad I didn't find out this talent of mine when I was 20. Now I feel it's too late to go back to college to study and become a literary translator, and since I don't have a degree, I do it only for my own pleasure, and for the benefit of French reading people all around the world.

May. 29 2013 12:34 PM

You have no frame of reference if you're moving from one institution to another - how can you have any idea where you're going?

May. 29 2013 12:34 PM
Amy from Manhattan

What if you have disparate interests? How do you choose 1 to make a living at (or make your life's work)?

May. 29 2013 12:32 PM
antonio from baySide

I think a graphic novel about Leonard Loapte would be awesome...
i'd like to draw it...

May. 29 2013 12:30 PM
Elaine from Baltimore

Just read this week - there are plenty high tech jobs without college requirements. They want to see your portfolio, not your degree.

May. 29 2013 12:25 PM
Sarah from Brooklyn

UK's 11plus ended in the 1970's - I was born in UK in 1961 and didn't face the Grammar V Secondary Modern issue - how long has he been here?

May. 29 2013 12:22 PM
Alex from Jersey City

I think that I am a curious person with some strong core skills and some actual talent. I have no idea what I want to be doing with my life and it's very frustrating to me. I'm trying to enjoy where I am in the moment and hope that I'll discover my "element', but what should I be doing while I'm trying to figure out what I should be doing?????

May. 29 2013 12:22 PM
Elaine from Baltimore

I would say living a purposeful life is what can lead to a happy life, not economic wealth.

May. 29 2013 12:17 PM
Eric from New Jersey

With regards to the question of money, I've never met anyone happy with overdue bills and the lights turned off.

Money may not equate the happiness, but it sure as hell works as the perfect springboard.

May. 29 2013 12:16 PM

Ken Robinson sounds like he is directly refuting (correctly, I think) the essential dogma of modern economics — that people always always want more more more. Indeed, according to economists, people are _irrational_ if they don't want more. (More of what ... well, the what doesn't matter as long as the something is a "good".)

May. 29 2013 12:14 PM
fuva from harlemworld

I see a continuity in Leonard's various professions...
Seems a major takeaway is to expose kids as widely as possible.

May. 29 2013 12:12 PM
Mark, NH from New Hampshire

Isn't this advice for rare people? Aren't most of us just supposed to figure out how to pay the bills? Mark, NH

May. 29 2013 12:10 PM

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